It’s Halloween

…and the scary subject of hitting the golf ball comes up. There was a quote in the comments section last week.

“When my fellow hacks clip dandelions they are free and easy and fluid but when they clip Mr. PROV1 they are locked up tight from the armpits down. Why? And what is a real way to cure the rigidity? Without regard to golf-itiical correctness.”

Simple answer, difficult solution.

When you clip dandelions and make practice swings there is no thought of precision. You allow your body to move the way it wants to.

When you hit the ball, you try and aim the club at the ball, instead of making the same simple swing and allowing the ball to get in the way.

There is a point where tension and grip pressure get too low, but the key to a good golf swing is to be devoid of excess tension and by default, excess thoughts.

I will watch students put decent looking moves on the ball and hit a dead shank. Why? I can nitpick several of their movements, but the simple fact is they have excess arm tension and/or grip pressure and they are aiming the club at the ball.

I called it snatching the club, it gets steep or too far from the insde, the hips thrust and…EL HOSEL!!!!!

You are better off with an incorrect move devoid of excess tension, than a “perfect” move filled with tension and snatching.

As I wrote in an earlier article, clipping dandelions and good practice swings versus a terrible swing that ends in a bad shot…the difference is almost always excess arm tension and/or excess grip pressure.

If you work on those two things, your swing and contact will get better.

Another way of looking at it…it you shift your weight and allow gravity and the rotation of your body to control the club…guess what?


Working on this myself right now, especially in chipping. That is why I wrote that article about chipping feel is coming back.

When you try too hard for correct positions and UGH, things like creating lag, it’s a snatching motion. You are trying to put the club somewhere it doesn’t want to go.




  1. Calvin

    Zing! Got me right between the eyes. Thanks Monte. I have a tendency to shank when I have wedge or short iron into a green after a great drive. Lots of tension and always thinking about clearing and moving hips. I go thru periods when I can almost count on the shank and if I just lined up dead left it would probably go toward the pin.:)

  2. Christian

    My theory on this is based on me swinging on a simulator. In my practice swing my clubface is way open – like 20 or 30 degrees. I think the worse your golf swing is the more compsensations you have to make to square the clubface. During your practice swing you don’t have to make those compensations. During your actual golf swing you do. So… two completely different swings.

    • BernardP

      I agree with that. I have videotaped my own practice swing. Looking at it image-by-image, the club is sometimes, but not always, too open at impact. It would seem that only a small adjustment in clubhead rotation in the downswing ( à la AJ Bonar) would take care of this.

      But there is more going on when looking at my real swing with a ball. On the video, I can see a severely shortened and stiff backswing, some crouching in the backswing and lifting in the downswing, and a tremendous holding/braking of the club in the impact zone. I am visibly keeping the clubhead from rolling from open to closed in the impact zone.

      Tension about results and an irresistible urge to control the club are ruining my “real” swing

      What I would like to be able to do is put my practice swing on the ball, observe the results and then make the necessary adjustments. Despite my best efforts, my brain/body still doesn’t want to let me do this.

      • Calvin

        Just a thought. Maybe you don’t give a rat’s ass how far the dandelion goes? 🙂
        I have done 30 years of research and scientific investigation on lay up shots as to why hackers always hit great lay up shots. It’s like some kind of iron clad rule that lay up shots are always great. Lobbing range balls back over the fence are similar. I have yet to publish any conclusions for the American Journal of Golf Science and ballology. There might be a complicated formula involved.

      • bref

        Haney did this to Bar let, putting a small paper cup over the ball/non-ball so that Charles wouldn’t know whether he’d impact a ball or just empty air at impact.

      • bref

        Bar let = Barkley. Damn tablet keyboard

  3. woody

    Here’s a problem common among golf scientists and golf publications. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

    They should be a bit embarrassed by the fact that you can learn some of the more important aspects of golf from sports medicine and chiropractic websites.

    Yesterday, while looking for a picture of something else, I read this about golf on a chiropractor’s website: “Your body acts like a whip. ”

    When is the last time that you read anything in a golf magazine about how to be a better whip? In other words, body coordination.

    Here is the common way to talk about the swing, by Kostis: describing Pouler, joints and bones, hip & knee. (0:52) Poulter

    Here’s Snead, talking about the same thing: but he’s not concerned about how his joints look, rather the use of his leg & bun. (0:47) Sam Snead

  4. Wally

    The truth is Hackers are probably clipping dandelions half-assed also

  5. Greg

    I’ve finally learned that a practice swing is just that a practice swing. No worries free of all tension. When you put the ball in front of you most people try to hit “At the ball” and make contact. Once you learn the ball just get’s in the way of the clubhead you’ll start to get better results.

  6. Jason

    Greg you are exactly right. In theory, you can hit balls blindfolded. If I make the ball blurry in my vision and observe the swish of the club, it’s like my practice swing with the ball in the way.

    • BernardP

      “Observe the swish of the club” is an interesting swingthought and certainly worth trying, because that’s what I’m doing in my pratice swing. Thanks!


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