Golf Swing Lesson: A Slow Backswing Doesn’t Hurt Your Golf Swing Speed

Salt was musing at how nearly every high handicapper he met was obsessed with their golf swing speed.  They wrongly equated a slow backswing with a slow golf swing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just them Salt saw a curious gentleman in the distance. Or rather, he heard him. He was pounding drivers on the range, one after the other.

He could hit the ball a long way indeed. Sometimes he would carry his drives 250 yards, very long for an amateur. Salt was watching him hit ball after ball with a furious intensity that intrigued him.

The man was working up a sweat from his high impact aerobic workout.

Not every drive was perfect, though. Sometimes he missed badly, maybe 40 yards right or left. Death on most good golf courses.

Salt did not know the man, and the man did not know Salt. So he stood politely at a distance, watching.

The man hit another fifteen balls before taking a break and looking up. It was the opening Salt needed.

A Slow Backswing Can Help You

“Good afternoon, I’m Salt.”

“Hello, I’m Jim. Pleased to meet you, Salt. Not every day I meet a man named Salt. Don’t tell me your last name is Pepper!” Jim was enthusiastic and warm, a friendly sort. Instantly likable.

“How’s the practice session going Jim?” asked Salt, ignoring the question for the moment.

“Great. I’m getting good distance on my driver.”  Salt nodded.

“I’d like a little more consistency, though. I guess we all would.”

Salt approved. “Yes, consistency is the foundation of the game.”

“What do you do for a living, Salt?” asked Jim?

“Oh, I help out around here, this and that, giving golf lessons and so on,” Salt replied.

“You’re a golf teacher? Wow. What do you think of my swing? How can I get more power?  I want to amp up my golf swing speed.”

Salt knew that people tend to want more of what they already have, not what they really need. So he was cautious.

“Well, Jim, I was watching you hit balls and I’d like to make a suggestion”.

“OK, shoot”.

“Jim, I’d like you to slow down your backswing. Just a bit.  Try a slow backswing for me.”

“Slow down? But I don’t want to lose power.  I am focused on hitting at least 106 mph golf swing speed.” Jim was just a bit defensive.

A Slow Backswing Can Generate Great Golf Swing Speed

Gary Woodland just after impact driver slow backswing golf swing speed slow golf swing
Gary Woodland has a slow steady backswing but generates tremendous power on the downswing.

“Jim, what part of the swing do you use to hit the ball?”

Jim was confused. “Well, the downswing, of course.” He thought for a moment. “I see. What matters is the power in my downswing, not a fast backswing”.

“Yes,” said Salt.  “The only real purpose of a backswing is to store energy in your body that you release in the downswing.  What matters is how well you store that energy, and how well you are positioned for your downswing.”

Jim pondered this for a moment.

“Maybe take a few practice swings with a little slower backswing and see how it goes,” suggested Salt.   “Think of Gary Woodland’s swing.  He hits the ball a long, long way, with great control, and a very compact, slow, and controlled backswing.”

Jim remembered seeing Gary Woodland’s swing on TV, and recalled how stable and controlled his swing looked from start to balanced finish:

The Slow Backswing Test

Jim did as Salt requested. His swings improved instantly. Jim was a fine athlete; it took a lot of ability to gyrate as he did and still hit decent shots.  He also had an excellent setup position which helped a great deal.

“Shall I hit one Salt?”

“By all means, have at it.  But first put down a club on your target line so we are sure you are aiming correctly.”

And Jim did. His first shot was straight but a little weaker than usual.

His next shot, though, was very good. The third shot was the longest of the day, and straight. As was the fourth.  Jim found that he was actually attacking the ball with more swing speed with a slow backswing.  He surely did not have a slow golf swing as he had feared.

“Salt, I can’t believe it. Thank you. I owe you. Would you like a beer? Sorry about my wise crack earlier.”

Salt had moved along the range already. He waved at Jim. “No problem. Come back soon,” said Salt.

Did you like this short story about slowing down your backswing and focusing on your downswing?  Then please tell your friends — Like, Share, Tweet, or Email below!

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Golf Swing Tip: Learn a Balanced and Powerful Golf Swing By Sitting on the Barstool

Symptom: You want a power golf swing, but end up losing your balance quite often.  When you have a balanced golf swing, you lose your power.  Why can’t you seem to have both a balanced and a powerful golf swing?

Description: Pretend you are about to sit down on a bar stool before the takeaway, and hold this spine angle throughout the backswing.

Why it works: This tip is all about putting your body into a powerful, athletic, and stable position to execute your golf swing.  On the backswing, think of your spine as the axis around which your body turns.  You need to keep this axis relatively still and at a consistent angle throughout your backswing.  Stillness matters because this stability allows you to put the clubhead in a known and consistent position at the top of the backswing, which is crucial for a repeatable downswing.  It also is a great help in keeping your head still as you swing.

Davis Love III driver address position sitting on bar stool. power golf swing balance golf swing
Davis Love III puts himself in a powerful position before launching his drive.

Power and Balance and a Bar Stool

Pretending to sit on a bar stool helps you anchor your spine in just the right way for it to act as your axis.  Indeed, the tension in your big leg muscles needed to hold this “almost sitting” position is about the only “good” tension I know of in the golf swing.

Let’s have Davis Love III demonstrate for us.  Davis has a simple and powerful swing that launches the ball straight and far, with little apparent effort. Davis has an excellent stance and setup position that surely help him swing the club so well.

As you run the video, you can watch Davis pick a distant target to aim at, align his club, do a waggle to keep his arms and hands loose, and then settle into the stance at (0:17) just before he starts his backswing.  That little extra “sit” at (0:17) is what the “sit on the barstool” tip is all about.

You will find that it is much easier to strike a pose in that perfect finish position when you do the bar stool setup.  If you are not used to this setup position, it will take some getting used to.  You may also find that this position tends to limit the length of your backswing, but this is almost always a good thing for the Occasional Golfer.

So — the time you’ve put in sitting at the local bar was actually golf practice!

Remember, set up like Davis Love III for more consistency and power.  And please don’t forget to Share this Tip with your friends–Share, Like, Tweet, “+1”, or Email below!

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Golf Swing Lesson: A Golf Beginner Needs a Proper Golf Stance

It was getting late.  Salt was looking for a golf beginner, someone who would be receptive to a golf beginner tip.

Most people at the range were pounding driver after driver, barely even looking where their ball was going before teeing up the next one.  They were not golf beginners, so Salt was not interested.

He was more interested in the girl, an obvious golf beginner, who had a fresh bucket of balls in front of her. She was obviously new to the game, trying to learn. It took courage to come out on the range and not be self-conscious. Salt approved.

“Hello young lady, how are you?” Salt asked.

“OK, I guess,” she said.

“My name is Salt. I’m the golf teacher at the golf course. Do you like to play golf?”

A Fundamental Golf Beginner Tip

“My name is Melissa. I want to try the game, because it looks fun. But I’m just a beginner.”

“Everybody is a beginner at the beginning,” said Salt.

Melissa looked at him and squinted a little. Salt thought it was pretty profound, but not this youngster.

Lexi Thompson driver at address golf beginner tip
Lexi Thompson takes an athletic stance just before takeaway.

“Can you help me hit the ball like that guy you just helped?” asked Melissa.

“Well, he is a lot bigger and stronger and more experienced than you. Maybe you could hit a few balls and we’ll see how it goes?”

Melissa agreed.

“Put the ball on a tee,” said Salt. He thought everyone, beginners especially, should hit off a tee on the range.

Melissa took a few practice swings and hit a few balls.

“At least I’m hitting every one now, not missing,” she said.

Salt nodded. “Yes, that’s good.”

Melissa had a decent grip, one she had probably been taught. But, like most who are new to the game, she had a tendency to come over the top, a casting motion, that caused some bad slices and an occasional shank.

Knee Flex at Setup

Salt noticed in particular that she did not have much knee flex. Her rigid knees were making it difficult to execute a good turn and take an inside path on the downswing.

She shanked another one. “Oh I hate those!”

Salt could see she was getting frustrated.

“Can you help me Salt” she asked.

“Melissa, would you try something for me?” asked Salt.

“OK. Is it my grip? Maybe it’s too weak? I read about that,”

Salt was patient. “No, your grip is fine. Very good in fact.”

Melissa seemed pleased that her grip was very good.

“Melissa, please take your stance as normal. That’s it. Now, I want you to pretend you are about to sit down.”

The Golf Beginner Needs to Sit on the Bar Stool

“What? You want me to sit down?”

“No, not all the way, just pretend like you are going to sit down on a bar stool or something. Just go down a little ways.  Think of Lexi Thompson’s stance, how she sits down as she addresses the ball.”  Salt pulled out his handy smartphone and showed Melissa what he meant.  “See, right here at 0:14, she sits down into her stance and holds that position through impact”.

“OK, I see now”, said Melissa.

“Perfect,” said Salt.

“Perfect what?” demanded Melissa.

“That is a perfect stance. Try a few practice swings from that stance and see how it feels.”

Solid Base, Solid Shots

Melissa’s first swings were a little awkward. She actually lost her balance from all the clubhead speed she generated off her new stance.

“Try a couple more, but keep your head still as you swing” said Salt.

And soon her swings were much improved.

“Now hit a ball or two and see how it goes,” suggested Salt.

Melissa’s first shot made a decidedly different sound than before. The fine, sharp crack of a well struck ball.

“Wow”. Melissa now had a little more respect for old Salt.

She hit a few more shots. Most were good, some were still bad, but definitely an improvement.

“Remember, sit down to get a solid stance, and you will improve!” said Salt. “I need to go now, Melissa. Nice to meet you. And please do come back to the range often.”

“Thank you Salt. I will.”

She was happy, and so was Salt.

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Golf Swing Lesson:  A Golf Beginner Needs a Proper Golf Stance

Golf Swing Lesson: Finish Your Golf Swing With Your Belt Buckle Facing the Target

Salt was on the range early that day. He was studying some video tour players and noting their proper golf swing finish.  Most of the golfers at his range couldn’t finish their golf swings so gracefully.  Many of them routinely lost their balance instead of striking a pretty pose.

The day was cool; it had rained the night before and so the grass was a little soggy. The clouds hung low, but it was not too windy. Not a day for fair weather golfers. But a day not nearly as bad as it looked from inside the clubhouse.

A Slow Day at the Range

Salt thought that the type of person who would show up on the range today would be a serious sort of player, one who really wanted to work on his game.

Not surprisingly, business was slow.  But, by and by, Micah arrived. He looked to be in a hurry, and was well dressed. He probably slipped away over his lunch hour.  Salt knew Micah in passing. Micah was a businessman, an account manager. He wanted to play the game well to help him impress clients, but had a handicap in the low 20s, which frustrated him.  He felt like he needed to be a single-digit handicapper, or nearly so, to really succeed in his line of work.

Micah got out his clubs and began to hit some balls.

Salt shook his head. “If only they would stretch before they try to hit a ball,” he thought.

Micah hit several balls, but was obviously getting frustrated. His shots were poor and he did not have a proper golf swing finish at all.  Salt ambled over.

“Mornin’,” said Salt.

“Good morning,” said Micah. “How are you today, Salt?”

Bill Haas belt buckle facing target at finish finish golf swing proper golf swing finish
Bill Haas with his belt buckle facing the target at the finish.

“Oh, I’m doing fine today. How’s your game Micah?”

“Not bad, not bad,” said Micah. “Having a little trouble with my slice though.”

“Mind if I have a look?” asked Salt.

“Please, go ahead.”

Salt knew that Micah was a serious man, analytical, calculating. He would probably want to hear tips about wrist angle, swing plane, grip position, and so forth.

“What do you think of my backswing Salt? Are my hands high enough?”

Finishing the Golf Swing

Salt just sighed and shook his head. And he watched another weak shot tail off to the right.

“Micah, I’d like you to try something for me.”

“Sure, what?”

“I’d like you to swing so that your belt buckle is facing the target on your finish.”

“What?”

“Try it. Take a practice swing or two and think about a proper golf swing finish. Concentrate on swinging so that your belt buckle faces the target when you are done.  Imagine a pro with a great swing, like Bill Haas. It looks unhurried and easy, but it’s very powerful and balanced and he is always facing the target when he’s done.”

Micah conjured up an image of Bill Haas’ swing:

Micah gave it a try. The first thing he noticed was that his belt buckle was pointing right of the target, not at the target. The next thing he noticed was that he was losing his balance, and didn’t really have a specific direction that his belt buckle was pointing.

“Try again, but smoother,” said Salt.

Micah tried several more times to no avail.  Salt was worried that he might lose Micah’s attention and trust.

Start with the Golf Swing Finish

“Micah, why don’t you just pose with your club and belt buckle the way you want to end up at the finish, and backtrack from there?”

And so Micah visualized Bill Haas’ finish, and he imitated it for Salt. Eventually he was able to execute a swing that resulted in a balanced finish, with his belt buckle pointing at the target, at a good tempo.  He found that he needed a much more inside path on the downswing to avoid losing his balance, and this also helped to bring him up into the finish pose he was looking for.

“Now hit a ball. But tee it up,” said Salt.

Micah did. His first shot was straight. His second was straight and longer. The third was pure, a beautiful golf shot by any standard.

“Salt, thank you, this is incredible.” Micah was genuinely grateful and truly surprised at how well this worked.  He eagerly reached for another striped ball.

Salt waved at him from across the range, It was time to head back inside for a cup of coffee.  After all, it was a bit cool outside.

Did you enjoy this golf Lesson? Think you can make the swing that puts you in a great finish pose like Micah and Bill Haas?  Let your friends in on the secret too! Like, Share, Bookmark, Tweet, or +1 below!

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Golf Swing Tip: Use a Golf Alignment Stick for Proper Golf Alignment

Symptom: You struggle with your golf alignment.  Often you hit straight, solid shots, but they don’t go the direction you intended.

The feel and method of proper golf alignment is not ingrained into you, making it hard to perform on the golf course.

Overview: At the range, lay a golf alignment stick, or club you are not using, on the ground, and aim it at your intended target. Line your toes up to the alignment stick, and keep the alignment stick between you and the ball. This is proper golf alignment.  Remember how proper alignment feels, and recall this feeling on the course.

Justin Rose driver alignment stick golf alignment stick proper golf alignment
Justin Rose using an alignment stick for proper golf alignment.

Why it works: It is actually very difficult for you to tell if you have proper golf alignment. It is easy to “feel” like you are aligned, when in fact you are systematically aligned to the left or right of the target.  That is the power of the golf alignment stick.

The Perils of Poor Golf Alignment

This misalignment will cause a natural slice/pull  or hook/push. But you will not be aware of your misalignment, because you have become comfortable with your (incorrect) setup on the driving range.  Or worse, you may compensate your swing to hit it straight despite your (mis)alignment, which won’t allow you to improve.

All good players, of course, know this.  Almost every pro will use a club on the ground to help their alignment on the range sometimes, and many will do it most of the time.  Almost no Occasional Golfers do this.  Take a look next time you are at the range — how many people are using an alignment aid?  I’ll bet it’s less than one in ten.  And the one who is using the stick or club on the ground is the low handicapper!

Let’s have Justin Rose demonstrate for us.  His alignment stick is pointing at his intended target.  His toes are aligned with the stick.  He is in perfect golf alignment.  Have a look:

Always Have Proper Golf Alignment on the Range

The goal of the driving range session is to prepare you to play on the course.  On the golf course, you can always aim at a spot right in front of you to help your aim, but you can’t use a club on the ground or a golf alignment stick to help you with your alignment.  That’s why it’s crucial that you do so on the range, like Justin Rose, so that you teach yourself the way proper golf alignment feels.  Hopefully you can take that feeling out on the course, and eliminate those wayward shots that cost you strokes!

Think this tip will get you aimed in the right direction?  Then be like Justin Rose and every other serious player the next time you are on the range, and share the knowledge with your friends — Share, Like, Tweet, +1, or Email below!

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