Good Golf Is Good Hands
By Tom Abts
Most people worry about their golf swing. They think that their golf swing hits the ball for them… not that they control the golf swing to hit the ball.
Let me start at the beginning. Golf is difficult because of the distance between your hands and the clubface of the golf club. Think of a golf club as a hammer. If you use a hammer to pound a nail, it’s not very difficult. What if the hammer was the length of a driver? Hitting the nail squarely would be difficult. Then, think of using that driver length hammer and swinging it over your head and then squarely hitting the nail. That would be very difficult for most people. Well, that’s golf. And that’s why it’s difficult.
So, if we continue this analogy with the driver length hammer… wouldn’t you work your way up? Meaning, wouldn’t you choke up on the driver, and keep taking little longer swings until you could swing all the way back and hit the nail? You would be training your hand to hit the nail with a big hammer with a long swing. It would take a while, but you could do it. That’s what people do with a golf club and a ball. If you can’t consistently hit a chip shot solid, how can you expect to hit shots solid with a full swing? The problem is not really your swing, it’s that you haven’t trained your hands.
We all need to train our hands to hit the ball consistently solid. People used to constantly tell me that they would be a good player if they were more consistent. I didn’t have the heart to them that’s why they aren’t a good player. Hitting random decent shots is mostly luck – not a sign of skill. Skill is getting the clubface back to the ball in a consistent manner.
Does your golf swing matter? Of course. A simple, more natural motion will usually make golf easier than a complicated, unnatural motion. But, whatever motion is used… the hands have to be in control of the golf club and be able to find the ball with the clubface. The margin of error is small – just like a hammer and a nail. Fat and thin shots aren’t that far off. Or toe and heel shots. However, those slight mishits can turn into really bad golf shots.
So let’s start training those hands. A putter is a good place to start. Practice short putts. You need to be able to hit them solidly and control the speed. You can do this in your home. As you get better, practice longer putts. Then when you’re pretty good at this… practice putting with your right hand only. The do it with your left hand only. Not only will this greatly help your putting, this will help you with all of your shots… you’re training your hands!
Obviously, the next step is chipping. How many good players have you met who are bad at chipping? Probably zero. Good players are good chippers. Take your sand wedge and hit little shots. When you can hit little shots fairly solid and consistently… start changing the clubface for the shot. Practice chipping with a closed clubface and see what happens. You should be hitting low shots. Then open up the clubface and try to hit it solid. You start hitting high shots.
This may sound obvious, but it isn’t. Most people have no idea what is going on with the clubface during their golf swing.
If you slice your shots… you have an open clubface at impact. Conversely, if you hook your shots you have a closed face at impact.
Now this is where the golf swing comes in. As the stroke becomes longer, most people lose control of the golf club and clubface. So, work your way up. Keep practicing with that sand wedge. Get good at little chip shots. Then start trying shots with a waist high swing. Keep practicing until the shots become solid and you can control the clubface closed, open, or square. You need to develop that feeling. Then make a 3/4 swing and keep at until it becomes consistent. Now, you’re ready to make a full swing with your sand wedge.
You can’t really leap over these steps. Your hands need to be in control of the golf club. The hands must be trained, and you need to start with the putter – then work your way up through your set of clubs.
Think about it: a driver hitting a ball off of a tee is a different action than hitting a wedge out of a bad lie. Your hands have to know the difference. The more that your hands know what to do, the more that you will naturally set-up in the correct way for your intended shot. Hands set-up behind the ball is good for a driver off the tee. Hands in front of the ball lead to more of a downward hit which is not good for a driver off a tee, but is good for a wedge hitting down into the ball.
Your body will respond naturally to the right way to use the club with your hands. This takes practice and analysis. When you understand how to use your hands, then the golf swing starts to make sense. The golf swing is the motion you use to hit the ball with your hands in the proper way.
Trained hands are the secret to good golf.