The main reason I began My Swing Evolution was because I couldn’t hit the ball far and I couldn’t hit the ball straight. I just knew there was a lot more gas in the tank. There was that once in a blue moon swing where I came out of my shoes and really got it out there, but it was watching the pros play down at Torrey Pines that I really came away with the understanding that power doesn’t come from grunting or lucky swipes at the ball. The pros exhibit an uncanny sense of calmness as they motor the club at speeds very often over 120 miles per hour! The ball just takes off like a rocket.
I believe we amateurs have two major El Guapos when it comes to distance. First, we try and muscle the ball. Second, we try to aim the face through impact. Both of these very natural instincts must be overcome in order to find the true distances we are all very capable of achieving.
So, why do we try and muscle the ball? We do it because it feels right. The way most golfers wind up they reach their maximum wind at the top of their backswing and our “stretch reflex” causes us to want to fire every muscle we’ve coiled up at top speed as soon as we start our transition. When you get ready to jump, the muscles in your legs begin to stretch as you load into the ground. At the moment you begin to leap, your stretch reflex causes all of your muscle fibers to contract allowing you to blast off of the ground. You have to be loaded an appropriate amount before you take off or else you will not reach your maximum vertical leap. I say an appropriate amount because you could theoretically squat super low to the ground but that will not necessarily help you to jump any higher.
Most great golfers have more to give at the top. They have loaded an appropriate amount in relation to their swing. That’s why their lower bodies can begin to unwind even before they have reached their maximum backswing position. This serves a couple of very important functions. First off, their swings don’t “bounce” at the top. When you see someone fully stretched a the top the club and arms have a look of bouncing because they cannot go back any farther and the club is forced to recoil. Secondly, by waiting a split second to reach the maximum stretch during the downswing a golfer can slot the club with a relative amount of confidence that it is where it needs to be before it is fully accelerated through the bottom of the swing.
Our second El Guapo is our desire to aim the face of the club through the impact zone. Mr. Hogan said trying to control the face is folly. It’s easy to hear this, and it’s even easy to remember it but it took me 6 years to fully implement it. There is something truly bizarre in how we learn the intricacies of golf. We can know something intellectually but it is a completely different thing to physically incorporate these intellectual concepts into our swing. That’s how it was for me in regards to having the desire to aim the face of the club through impact.
Earlier this year I was out for a round of golf with my buddy, Joel. We were at the course an hour early and planned on hitting a bucket of balls, putting, and all that so we could play at our best that day. When we went to check in the starter said, “I’ve got an open spot so you guys can go now if you want.” Joel and I looked at each other and decided to go for it even though we’d just gotten out of the car.
So, next thing you know we are on the tee with no warm up and we are both swinging our drivers trying to get loosened up. I started talking to Joel about Fred Couples’ follow through, notably how his left bicep seems to me to flex and pull the club through the impact and up to the top of his swing. While doing this I started to really get a great amount of speed with my practice swings (which I rarely do full speed). I did it a few times and I just felt the freest swoosh I’ve ever felt! Suddenly, a light bulb went off. Was that what pros were talking about when they say you have to give up control to gain control?
When it came time to hit my drive I decided to just swing the circle and let the ball go wherever it wanted. Well, it wanted to duck hook into the trees on the left. It happened again on the second tee, but not as badly. By the time I was ready for my third drive I made the proper adjustments and ripped one right down the middle. I was free! That day was not very long ago and I don’t think I’ll ever look back. Now, I’m hitting it freer than ever and I’m having as much fun as ever. I’m really playing golf! So, the lesson is you aren’t doing yourself any favors by muscling the club. And, you have to give up control to gain control.