All Those Different Swings
One of the challenges of this game is that we use a wide array of implements to move the golf ball from the first tee to the 18th hole. Compared to golfers, the tennis guys have it easy, as they hit all the shots they know with the same racket. We use a driver of 45" or so, all the way down to our wedges, which are nearly a foot shorter! But we're told very often that it's one swing. How can that be?

This topic is in response to a question from Sundeep, who asked:
"I have noticed on many occasions that the day I am having an exceptional driving day my iron play is pretty poor and vice versa. Average days I don’t notice this as much but if some day my irons are dialed in then it’s a given my driver is not doing much. When I say irons not working I mean the contact is not very crisp, I hit a few fat and some go right. My iron game is my strength by the way."
I'm sure Sundeep's problem is experienced by many of you. While we do have to learn one basic golf swing, that swing has small alterations from club to club. It has to, because if you swung your driver exactly like your wedge, you’d whiff the ball completely, as the wedge is 10” shorter. Conversely, if you swing a wedge like a driver, you’d hit the ground a foot behind the ball.

While the swing basics are the same, the variations from club to club result in that swing producing consistent ball contact ONLY if we are precise in our set-up, posture and ball position. My bet for Sundeep is that this is where the problem lies. Good iron play, which he says is his strength, relies on ball position being somewhat back toward the middle of his stance, and a slightly descending swing path through impact. Applying that to the driver will not produce the results he wants.

Conversely, on the days that he’s driving the ball well, he probably has moved the ball up more in line with the left heel or instep, so that he can swing through the ball on a more level clubhead path. Playing irons from that forward ball position however makes his iron play suffer.

Obviously, I cannot make a full analysis of anyone’s issues from a simple paragraph, but I’m a firm believer that if you are not hitting shots as good as usual on any given day, it’s a darn good bet that ball position and setup are the villains, not some strange swing thing that has cropped up that day. We all have swings that are “reasonably” grooved from practice and playing, but that learned swing can only reproduce desired results time after time if we are meticulous in our setup and ball position.

So, Sundeep, my recommendation is to focus on ball position on each shot to see if that isn’t the root of your problems. I’m betting it is, and all of us would like to see a report after you try this. Right guys?

And Sundeep, you are today’s winner of a new EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge. Congratulations.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
Nojdemo2 says:
I'm betting you're right! Last Friday I shot a 36 on my local par 33 9-hole course. I'm an improving 18-handicapper so I was thrilled and raring to let myself loose on the 'big course'.

Come Sunday afternoon and I plonk my tee shot squarely in the middle of the first fairway, 130y out. For a habitual slicer, so far so good. 12 shots later (yes, on the same hole) and my new-found confidence was in tatters. I improved slightly but still only managed to scrape a 112!!

Yesterday evening I took myself to the range and sure enough, patiently taking time on my setup yielded immediate results. Drives and irons mostly went long and straight. Thinking back over the past few months, I reckon I can trace 'mysterious' bad golf to simply not paying enough attention to my setup.
cicero says:
I NEVER focus on my setup. I'm always so focused on the swing that setup (besides grip) is the furthest thing from my mind. Funny thing is that I've been playing long enough that I should know better. I'll have to change that...
preny says:
Very good advice.

I still struggle with fat/thin contact and it's almost always because of inconsistent setup rather than a glaring swing error. I'm hoping that lessons will give me a better a routine, but until that happens, I have found that taking a very easy 2/3 swing practice swing to judge divot placement is a good way to figure out correct ball position before your full swing.
id3st says:
all i can say is that, for some odd reason, at least one of your arsenal is not gonna show up. was driving the ball good, iron play is great, putting is outstanding. but when i was chipping/pitching, i can't seem to get a good contact. either i'm hitting them fat or blading them. grrr... i rather give up my driving than the others. i only drive the ball once anyway on 4+ par holes anyway (well unless i take a mulligan :P)
birdieXris says:
Great article. Setup is definitely the most important thing even more so than the actual swing. Setup gets you comfortable, oriented, and heading in the right direction. a bad swing with a good setup will get you advancing the ball at least. a good swing with a bad setup could actually hurt you physically and will leave you going "that felt so good, why am i on the tee box for the next hole?

Every shot. i practice swing loosely, then set Grip - align clubface - set one foot, then the other foot - align hips shoulders - check the target and pull the trigger. The ball is leaving the clubface less than 25 seconds from when i pick the club out of the bag. Make setup part of your routine, it doesn't take long. Good setup leads to even par 9's, rushing and getting your mind off the setup routine leads to 9 over for 7 holes.
DoubleDingo says:
I never thought of that aspect, but it makes sense to me. Especially on off camber lies, where your line needs to be adjusted, what about the ball placement too. I am buying a membership off a guy that is good until December 2012, so I will be adding ball placement to my pre-shot routine.
lcgolfer64 says:
Great article and comments. I agree completely with Terry and Birdie on this.

I started a few years ago as a high handicapper and shooting under 90 was a really great day. Then I took lessons and got the basics down on my swing. Pretty much all of the last-half of last years lessons dealt with practicing alignment and pre-shot routine alignment and continued onto the course.
lcgolfer64 says:
Results were less fat shots, slice turned into a completly playble controlled fade and learned to draw the ball when I need to. Alignment off the tee became seeing a spot down the fairway and putting the ball somewhere reasonably close to it. Misses have become the exception instead of the norm about 70% of the time.

Find a good Pro you can relate to, have a plan on the range when practicing, read the feedback (especially on alignment and pre-shot routine) and put your practice to work on the course. Scores will improve! It worked for me. While I'm not anywhere near 'good' I've had great results and I was a complete 'hack' a few years ago!
lcgolfer64 says:
The best part of the above work resulted in going from " Ugh...Why do I even bother to play this game?..."


"Wow that was a pretty good shot - I really love playing this game!"
andycook says:
Isn't the allure of single length irons the fact that there is one swing and one ball placement to master?
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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