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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How the Swing Changes as It Gets Longer

I’ve now posted the complete Basic Principles series from putting to driving. I thought you might find it useful to see all the different stages of the swing together, so you can see how the changes progress as the stroke gets longer.

Putting: Uses the Basic Principles of Good Putting. Designed to make the ball roll smoothly along the ground toward the hole. This is the simplest stroke.

Chipping: Uses the Basic Principles of Good Chipping, which basically tweaks Principles 2 and 6. The grip is strengthened slightly and we begin to hit more down on the ball, as we want the ball to get airborne now.

Punching: Uses the Basic Principles of Good Punching; Principle 5 now acknowledges that we may want to make a specialized shot, such as cutting or hooking the ball. In addition, we add the power technique of coiling the upper body.

Pitching: Uses the Basic Principles of Good Pitching; Principle 4 now changes the grip so the club is more in the fingers. This allows the addition of a new power technique, cocking the wrists.

Approaching: These principles are the same as the Basic Principles of Good Pitching, but we now add the control technique of feeling the change of direction. This technique can be used for any shot where you want to hit the ball a specific distance.

Driving (full swing): These principles are the same as the Basic Principles of Good Approaching, but we now add the power technique of delaying the cocking of the wrists, sometimes called cocking on the downswing. And of course, this technique applies to any shot where you’re trying to hit the ball as far as possible.

The basic belief behind Ruthless Golf is that an entire golf game can be built from a putting stroke. Putting is simple and anyone can do it, so good habits are easily developed; then, by lengthening the stroke step-by-step and adding new techniques one at a time, those good habits are carried into the full game. The beauty of this approach is that you don’t have to concentrate on ten things at once―you just make the adjustments that the principles require (which are mostly about your setup) and then focus on developing a single technique. You first learn to swing without rotating your forearms, then add an upper body coil, a wrist cock, the change of direction, and finally the power move. By the time you get to the power move, you’re hitting the ball pretty long but with accuracy, so you don’t go through a long frustrating period where you can’t keep the ball in the fairway while you improve your length off the tee; you keep the ball in the fairway the same way you keep the ball on track to the hole on the putting green. When you work on one, you automatically help the other.

The result is a low-maintenance golf game, one where you don’t need a lot of practice to play well and where any practice you do can benefit all aspects of your game. Minimum effort, maximum results―just the thing for a weekend golfer with a busy life.

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