The curriculum for the DGA is found in the book and on the website as My Best Advice For Method Building. Each of these recommendations is followed with a paragraph or two of explanation of it’s importance. That is until we get to this month’s topic.
Perfect Aim- Just about everything we hope to achieve with a golf shot depends upon correct aim. Without aim a good result is a fluke. From reading this book, you know I believe in ACCURACY ABOVE ALL ELSE.
I believe it is no mistake that those known as the all-time greatest golfers were also tremendous aimers. Jack Nicklaus was clear in his routine that included intermediate targets for the clubface and allowed him to position his body correctly. Tiger Woods, in the early 2000’s, always looked beautiful over the ball and was a genius at creating the stance that helped him produce the shots he designed. Lee Trevino and Ben Hogan were also adamant about how and why they set up to the ball.
On a week to week basis, the tournament winner probably is aiming at the target without flaw, while those in a slump have likely lost their contact with the target. Aim or ball position are the two biggest slump builders and should be treated with high priority. Your swing depends on the target and ball placement between your feet, and it should be reinforced within every practice session. Your swing will change, will be FORCED to change, if one of these vital fundamentals varies.
For instance, many right-handed golfers allow themselves to aim well right of the target. Immediately you know their posture will change through impact, as they will raise up to find the target, which is behind them. Your release action through the ball will be affected also. Instead of allowing your grip to create a natural tendency, now you must use a timing-move to close the face, to the club path, at just the right time to find the target.
If you have a tendency in any area of your method, expect it to be present in ALL areas. This includes your putting. As I mention in the chapter about putting, MOST golfer don’t aim the putter well or strike putts solidly. Just like your full swing, their stroke won’t resemble the practice stroke or practice swing, which was relaxed and without compensation. It will be an instinctive correction for the lack of positioning before the swing or stroke.
You are aware from my statement in our book that I believe, I know, aim and alignment are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. Alignment is the result of proper positioning of the upper body over the lower body (shoulder line parallel to toe line.) Then you hope to see this alignment fall parallel to the target line. Aim refers to the orientation of our body with the target in the distance. We are swinging parallel with our toe line, so that the ball exits through a window, that then allows the desired curve of the ball that finishes close to the target. Squaring shoulders over toes promotes that swing path along our toe line. The clubface is adjusted accordingly to produce the shot we want.
Lee Trevino or Jack Nicklaus may have never set up parallel to the target line. They were parallel to the intended start line of their shot. They saw a shot that faded, with a soft turn from left to right.
If you want to make use of the swing you work on, you must prioritize your aim. Playing golf with a comfortable swing, that feels no correction, is the reward of constant attention paid to the way you orient your body to the desired target.
Jordan Spieth- today Jordan Spieth won for the first time in three years. We have chronicled his steady rise this season. This week he played with a noticeable state of calm. His short game was spectacular, and his putting stroke showed a feel and consistency that was better than at any time this season. Also, he is hitting his new Titleist driver longer than I can remember him ever hitting a golf ball. All of this adds up to a welcome return to one of the PGA’s most popular players. He is to be credited for his demeanor and patience with the many people who questioned every aspect of his life during this slump.
Spectators- the galleries are starting to build at PGA tour events and that is a welcome addition. At the same time, the occasional off- color comment is making a return also. Billy Horschel was heard reacting to several comments from the gallery during the Dell Match Play in Austin. Paul Casey, one of the game’s nice guys, was also confronted by a spectator who refused to be quiet while Casey tried to play a shot.
The Masters- I guarantee that the patrons at Augusta will be the best-behaved gallery we see and hear. They, along with the Open Championship fans, are the benchmark for knowledge and respectability.
The Masters is dependent upon weather more than most major tournaments. If the course plays firm and fast, then lower ball hitters can see some run-out in the fairways and position their drives in spots that allow them access to many of the challenging pin placements. If there is much rain, shorter or lower ball flight drivers will land on up-hill slopes and will not be able to find the ideal fairway positions. High ball hitters can achieve the optimum carry necessary to score at Augusta National.
Do you think that aim is important at the Masters? We hear about the wide fairways and little rough. The truth is, though, that aim is vital because a ball driven into the wrong part of the fairway is not much better than a ball in the rough. It only entices a player to go toward a flag with a poor angle of approach. The result is a ball that rolls into a completely different quadrant than the flag. This puts extreme pressure on the putter and additional fire into some of the most demanding greens the players face on tour each year.
Putting is “ALL THUMBS”
If you watch Tiger Woods putt, his hands look beautiful on the club. It has always been interesting, to me, that his right thumb extends down the shaft toward the putter head farther than most players.
Jordan Spieth, who putts cross-handed, uses the same type of “long thumb” but it is his left thumb. This past weekend his left thumb pointed down at the ground and moved smoothly through each putt.
I believe both players, who are master putters and elite among a field of good putters, use that thumb as a pressure point. This stabilizes the swinging clubhead and allows them to know where the toe of the putter is moving within the release of their stroke. Something like this can ensure a relaxed precision that creates a feeling of confidence essential in the fragile world of putting confidence.
This month I will be adding videos that pertain to Aim and how we can best take our range game to the golf course. Thank you for your messages and feedback.
LOOK AT THE TARGET TO AIM AT THE TARGET
WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE TARGET?
THE EVOLUTION OF A SLUMP IN YOUR GAME
TAKING YOUR AIM TO THE COURSE
Michael Wolf, Certified Master Teaching Professional, has been playing golf for 46 years and teaching professionally for over 34 years. He has given over 30,000 golf lessons. Author of The Driven Golfer: Building Your Method For Scratch Golf. Harvey Penick Award Winner- 2016 (Top Instructor U.S./World Golf Teachers Federation)