Q and A with Marc Solomon,
Director of The Hampton Golf School, Jacksonville, Fla.
Question: "Lately I have been hitting the ball dead right. What am I doing?"
Answer: One of two things could be causing that. Either you are hitting the ball off the heel or off the toe of the club. Both of those spots could cause the ball to go dead right.
Well this week I'm going to talk about the toe shot. Although both shots -- the heel shot and the toe shot -- go straight off to the right (for a right-handed player), they are two completely different mistakes.
Tension is the killer of all golf swings and it is the root cause of most toe shots. Tension also causes cursing and phrases like "I hate this game!"
Why does tension cause you to hit off the toe? Well, when you swing the club toward the golf ball, tension will cause you to pull your arms toward your body. When your arms are pulled toward your body, the club also gets pulled toward your body. When that happens, the only part of the club that will hit the golf ball is the toe of the club. The golf ball has no choice, but to go right.
What causes tension? Uncertainty, lack of confidence, a bad grip, an unbalanced set-up position, water hazards, sand bunkers, slow play and, I can't mention it enough, uncertainty.
Why does uncertainty cause tension in golf? When you are set-up over the golf ball and you don't know if you are going to hit it to the right (into the trees) or the left (into the water), that is uncertainty. The suspense is killing you. It is like when you are driving your car in a city you never been in before. It is rush hour and the locals are all speeding by knowing exactly where they want to go. You are slowing down at every street sign to read the name of the street, so you don't miss your turn. Cars are backing up behind you. You can feel the other motorists getting upset with your uncertain driving and you hear them honking their horns because you are going very slow, uncertain on where you have to turn.
This is a tense situation. It is similar in golf. Have you ever been in the situation that you were standing over your golf ball and you didn't know in which direction it was going to fly after you hit it, the other players in your group are already down the fairway and the foursome behind your group is letting you know that you are playing slow? There is no way, in that situation that tension couldn't be building up inside you.
The best advice I have for both situations is come prepared. On your road trip, have a map you studied before you venture out. On the golf course, you should practice before you play. If you went to the practice range a couple of days before your round of golf, you will have an idea of which way the majority of golf balls will go when you hit them. Then on the day you play, hit a few balls before you play. Confirm that you know the direction you will hit the majority of your golf balls.
Notice how I say majority.
That is important! Not many people can hit every ball in the same direction. But if you know in which direction you are going to hit seven out of 10 golf balls, even if it is a wicked slice, you can at least aim for it.
By having that game plan in your head. You are taking away much of the tension caused by uncertainty. This will allow you to make a swing that goes through the ball properly and will decrease your chance of hitting balls off of the toe.
So lets make a commitment to come to the golf course prepared and become tension free.
Marc Solomon, PGA, is the Director of The Hampton Golf School in Florida -- Golfmadesimple.com He has been named as a Top 10 Instructor under 40 in America; and is regarded as the "Top Instructor in North Florida." The Hampton Golf School provides golf instruction that is more beneficial than your ordinary golf lesson. If you have the desire to improve, checkout his Web site at Golfmadesimple.com
PGA Professional Marc Solomon is the director of Golf Made Simple (www.Golfmadesimple.com). He has been named as a "Top 10 Instructor under 40 in America" and is regarded as the "Top Instructor in North Florida."