Stopping the Suffering
Terry "The Wedge Guy" Koehler is in New Zealand this week speaking at a PGA Seminar. While he's out, we're going to feature a "Best of The Wedge Guy" article from the past. This article was originally published July 30, 2010. Enjoy!

One of the most painful things for me to watch is someone struggling in an effort to play golf at a level where pars can be achieved with some optimism, bogeys are probable and at the very least, the golf ball leaves the club on a reasonably predictable path. It amazes me to see golfers...active, committed golfers.who are flailing around, hitting shots all over the place, not even making contact sometimes, moving tons of earth, blades, skulls, tops...well, you get the point.

I know I've been blessed in my life to have been introduced to the game by a devoted father who was a good player, and for having never wanted for instruction by him or my doting golf professional. They set the stage for a lifetime in this game and this business. And I realize how difficult this game must be to learn for an adult who didn't have that childhood attention...but it's not that hard, is it?

I firmly believe that anyone with mostly "normal" physical capabilities can learn a basic golf swing that puts the club on the ball solidly, with reasonably consistency so that they can move the ball generally north and south to make their way around the golf course. I'm not talking about driving your average scores into the 70s, but today, I'm talking with all of you who find 90 to be the Holy Grail. Those of you who are packing handicaps over 18. Who often times see shots so far short of your most basic expectation that you find yourself embarrassed on the golf course.

If you're one of those, let's get you headed in the right direction with some basics about this game that you might not understand. If you are shooting in the 90s and above, what have you got to lose by trying something different?
  1. It's not a "hit", it's a "swing". The vast majority of us are right handed, and so we play golf by trying to hit this little white ball with this ill-conceived implement, by trying to control that implement with our master hand. Well, that's completely wrong. The golf action is a "swing", and as such, it is a pulling action with your left, or lead side. The right hand is along for the ride. The only way to get to that motion is to learn how to swing the club back and through with your left side controlling. Making this change in your basic concept of striking the ball will change your world, I'm convinced. I could write a whole column on this, and I just might.

  2. A proper release is key. Most golfers do not release the club properly through impact. Because they are "hitting" at the ball with their right hand, rather than swinging the club with their left side, the arms get too far from the body and they become a straight line with the club before impact. In reality, the club is rotating through impact, with the butt of the shaft pointed almost directly at the belt buckle or navel in this area. A distinct angle is formed by the club and arms through impact, when viewed from behind.

    This may by the hardest thing to learn, but I recently found a product that illustrates this better than anything I've ever seen. It's called the ZoomBoom. Funny name, I know, but I've tried it and shown it to a number of golfers and all of them immediately felt what I'm talking about. The owner of the company, and inventor of the ZoomBoom, is a little "out there," but he's created a product that really does work. If you've had trouble understanding or achieving a fundamentally sound release, I really do think this product can show you what it should feel like.

  3. Putting and chipping ain't that hard. Just spend a little time practicing and you'll get better. It is a touchy-feely part of the game and you can't just "have it". You have to practice to develop a good touch for how far to hit the ball. 15-20 minutes a session on your chipping and putting will pay huge dividends.
So, all you high-handicappers out there...beginners, strugglers, etc. This one was for you. And I'll address your thoughts and concerns here anytime you want me to. Just write in and let me know your questions, confusion and needs.
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 ]
larrynjr says:
This one is pointed directly at me! I have almost no consistancy with my driver but have reasonably good contact with my irons, and acceptable (for now) short game. But with the driver in my hands I never know what to expect. One shot, staight down the line, 250 yds, next one slice or hook or top. I did manange to drop 5 strokes off my handicap this year down to a 19 but have had some serious family medical issues going on most of the summer too so at this point I'm thinking those mental distractions are cause of my current issues but there still seems to be a fundamental breakdown with my driver. Perhaps the zoomboom might fix me.
9/14/12
 
larrynjr says:
Perhaps, OOB should get a zoomboom to review and then give away?
9/14/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
This is such a great message WG, wish more people in prominent positions would have the cojones to speak up like this. There is way too much sucking out there. It needs to be said. Too many people out there trying to wack the ball with their right arms, amen. And putting and chipping, some people would rather see the dentist it seems. What's the point of hacking a ball some 500 yards from tee to green, all that labor just to quit on your ball and scoop it up, once its a mere few feet from the hole? Seriously what is the point? Stay home!!!
9/14/12
 
GBogey says:
I'm always surprised that I seem to be the only person at the range who practices chipping. I think that it is pretty easy with some practice but nobody plays attention to it and then they are amazed when they play with people who can chip for up and downs.
9/14/12
 
bobnmarilynmaz says:
I actually gave up using my driver and began hitting a 3 wood instead (only a 10-20 yard difference, and much straighter), since then, I have hit more fairways, which resulted in hitting more greens; and the times that I did not hit a fairway, the ball was maybe 3-5 feet off, and not in the woods like my driver would have been. I do practice chipping, my problem is consistency in distance control (any advice would help). Putting is a bit more problematic for me, some days I'm on, others, not so much (although I will admit that if I spent more time lining them up, or drawing a line on my ball to line it up, I would probably cut my percentage down into the 1.5-1.9 range). I do like the advice regarding the pulling action of the left side, going to practice that (never heard that on a video, etc... before).
9/14/12
 
elindholm says:
This article isn't realistic. I've been playing for several years and practice a lot, at least 1000 range balls a week, and I'm still stuck at the level WG is talking about. And yes, I've also taken lessons, and I know that it's a "swing" not a "hit," and I practice my short game (average about 33 putts per round, on greens with a reputation for being tricky),... etc. Now, sure, you can say I haven't been practicing the right things, but it sure isn't for a lack of guidance or effort. (For anyone panicking that I'm slowing down play for everyone else, don't worry: I'm definitely faster than average, and if no one's in front of me I'm probably around 3 hours for 18 holes.)

The fact is that golf IS very hard for people who don't have much innate ability. I see this phenomenon from the other side too, with playing a musical instrument. I'm a professional musician, and there are lots of things about music that really aren't that difficult for me. But I also see people who have practiced (continued)...
9/17/12
 
elindholm says:
...who have practiced for years, really diligently, and still suck. There's a connection that they don't get, can't get, will never get. And I know better than to tell these people, "Come on, just think about these few basic concepts and it will all make sense." That's not fair; I have a musical talent that they don't have, and I understand things at an intuitive level that they will never understand.

So please, don't tell us career duffers that we're missing something obvious. We know that, but we also know that no matter how hard we look, from however many different angles, we may never get it. Be happy with your gift, and flaunt it if you like, but don't insult those who aren't so lucky.
9/17/12
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
I'm with Larrynjr; giveaway or not, I would like to see a review of the ZoomBoom before I drop some coin on a swing-trainer!
9/17/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
@elindholm: Well said. The music versus golf is a great analogy (never did get the hang of playing the trumpet well). I also think you may be too hard on yourself when you include yourself in the group WG describes.
9/17/12
 
GBogey says:
@bkuehn - totally agree - Terry's post mentions 90s and above golfers, should probably have directed his comments towards high 90s and above (or at least mid-90s). @Elindholm - your profile shows 16.8 handicap - I assure you that is far better than the average weekly golfer at the public courses I frequent.
9/17/12
 
elindholm says:
Ahem, well actually I just shot an 84 this morning, so maybe I'm not in the group after all... But the point stands: Sometimes those with talent have a hard time realizing how much easier everything is!
9/17/12
 
Tim Horan says:
@elindholm - Do you get bored hitting a 1000 balls a week on the range? What do you work on with your 1000 balls a week? I don't know what your natural shot shape is but say you fade/ slice. The best way to cure a slice is to work on accentuating that slice make it more extreme with purpose of understanding what you are doing to produce that slice. Then work it back to where you started and just keep going working it to straight. Above all understand what you have to do and have some fun doing it. I must have ADS I get bored hitting 50 balls a week.
9/21/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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