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Golf teaching and playing articles > Find your rhythm, tempo for the game

4 Nov 2004


You keep buying the latest in technology - the newest drivers that have high spring action to propel the golf ball faster off the club-face. You play the newest version of the $45-a-dozen golf balls that promise maximum distance.

You take golf lessons and subscribe to the Golf Channel, Golf Digest and Golf magazine. You have a library of how-to golf books.

You know all of the positions and angles of the golf swing. You hit the ball a long way, but frequently not in your own fairway. Long and wrong only works on the driving range.

The forgotten elements of tempo and rhythm are what makes a successful golfer. But I don't often find golfers working on these elements, which allow everything to work together in the golf swing.

How do you get this sense of rhythm? Practice is very important, as there is a feel to the golf swing that comes through repetition. A famous concert pianist once said that if he missed one practice, he could tell. If he missed two practices, his critics could tell. If he missed three practices, his audience could tell.

But practicing just on trying tohit the ball as hard as you can, or working on all of the positions of the golf swing, will not help you find rhythm.

I use two drills to help my students find their best tempo and rhythm.

The first is to practice full swings with a driver at a speed that will only allow the ball to travel half of your normal distance with this club.

When you have this under control, step up the speed to allow the distance to increase to 75 percent of your maximum. Gradually get to full speed and maximum distance, but note where your consistency starts to get worse. This should become your maximum speed.

The second drill involves using some kind of auditory cue, such as a song or a phrase. For example, I use the song "Waltzing Matilda," because one day I discovered when I was playing poorly that if I sang this song in my mind as I swung the club, I was in better balance and had more success.

Since then, whenever I feel as if I am rushing my swing, I go back to using this song to get on track.

Some of my students use words the same way. Ken uses the phrase "super fluid" because it creates an image of swinging smoothly for him. He uses "super" for the backswing and "fluid" for the forward swing.

Experiment and find one that works for you.

Don't forget, this works for the short game and putting as well.