Just as we have three types of clubs, we also have three families of swing. They are :
1.The full swing, for shots hit with all clubs from the driver to the nine iron.
2.The bunker and pitching swing, which is shorter on the way back and through than the full swing. This is used to lob the ball over obstacles and onto the green. It is also the swing we use to get out of bunkers.
3.The chipping and putting swing, which is a small, pendulum-type, back and through swing. It is used for the chip shot from just off the edge of the green and also for putting when on the green.
The rhythm for each of the swing families varies because of the difference in the length of the swings. Refer to the diagrams and practise saying to yourself ‘ One, Two and Three’ as you make a full swing: ‘One and Two’ for pitching and bunker swings; and ‘One-Two’ for the chipping and putting swings.You should never try to force the swing or hit at the ball. The ball just gets collected by the golf club as it swings through.
For chipping use the short iron ready position. Look at the picture of Erica in her ready position (below) and you will see a letter Y formed by the club and two arms.
The chipping swing requires very little movement of your feet, knees or hips. It is made by just swinging the Y back and through with a nice, easy pendulum movement from your neck which is the centre point of the swing. To get the right rhythm , just say ‘One-Two’ as you swing. For the chip shot you use just enough swing to allow the loft of the club to carry the ball one to two metres onto the green and roll the rest of the way to the hole. It is good to practise in the backyard with these small shots. Chip balls into a washing basket or similar target from different distances to learn the length of swing needed to make the ball go different distances.
When putting, even though the ball goes only a short distance, every stroke counts just as much as a shot hit with a full swing. Therefore we hope to have no more than two putts per hole. It is a good rule to roll the first putt just past the hole, no more than the length of your club, so that your second putt is a nice, short one. The best golfers in the world average about 28 putts per round when they are putting well, which is eight less than two per hole for the round. Putting does not take strength. It takes skill, courage and precision.
There are two types of putts – long and short. For both, you use the letter Y pendulum putting swing. There is no movement of the feet, knees or hips at all. Swing the Y back and through, counting ‘One-Two’ to maintain your rythm. Your grip on the club is a bit different from your grip for a full swing. Place both thumbs on the top of the grip (diagram 1). This will keep the face of the putter pointing at the hole throughout the swing. To practise your short putts, a board or something similar with a straight edge is needed. Place it down with the outside edge toughing the side of the hole or target as in diagram 2.
Stand on the other side of the board. Make a Y pendulum and swing back and through with the heel of the club lightly brushing the board. It does not take much experimenting to find out how long the swing needs to be to get the ball to go the right distance. Try not to feel as if you are hitting at the ball. Imagine the ball just getting in the way of your pendulum swing. This is best practised on a smooth carpet at home because it is difficult to take your piece of wood out on a golf course.
Long Putts: The long putt is best practised by making a semi-circle of coins or tees around the back of the hole. Measure the semi-circle by placing the putter head in the hole and placing a coin every 30 cm or so as you swing the shaft around in an arc. walk back between three and ten metres and practise putting the ball so it finishes in the semi-circle. A good game to play against a partner is scoring one point for every ball that finishes in the semi-circle and seeing who can get ten points first. When you have a winner , start again from a different distance. Putting from different distances is important because it teaches you ‘feel’.
Pitching swing and bunker swing are shorter than the full swing because the ball does not need to go very far. To play these shots the best club is a sand iron but an eight, nine or wedge will do. The backswing starts the same way as the full swing, but your target arm will stop when it reaches 9 o’clock if you are a right-hander ( 3 o’clock for left-handers).
At this point, the club shaft should point straight up. Then swing towards the target, collecting the ball on the way.Let the loft of the club lift the ball into the air. You don’t need to do anything except swing through to the finish where your trail arm points to 3 o’clock ( 9 o’clock for left-handers) and once again, the shaft points straight up in the air.
The bunker shot is not as terrifying as it is made out to be. In fact, it is the only shot where the club does not actually make contact with the ball. In this shot we are aiming to slice a piece of sand the size of a $20 note, and about three centimeters thick, out from under the ball and onto the green. The ball is sitting in the middle of this imaginary $20 note and gets a magic carpet ride on the sand.
The swing is a little bit longer on the way back than the pitching swing. Your target arm would stop between 10 an 11 o’clock ( 1 and 2 for left-handers). From here you swing through, splashing the sand iron under your imaginary $ 20 note and follow through until you finish with your trail arm pointing between 1 and 2 o’clock ( 10 and 11 for left-handers). As in the pitch shot, let the club’s loft do the work. The word splash is a good one to keep in mind. The rythm is the same for the pitch shot. Count ‘One and Two’ as you swing.