Everyone has an opinion on the golf swing. Search for books on it in Amazon and you get over 2,000 hits… Then there are the magazine articles, videos and an endless barrage of slow motion TV replays.
So, by now everyone should agree on how to nail the perfect golf swing, right? Actually coaches like PGA Professional, Kevin Craggs – who has spent 25 years teaching golfers from beginners to Major winners – are constantly amazed by stubborn, and incorrect, myths that persist on this most fundamental golf move.
RSNG asked Craggs to bust the biggest myths and deliver the advice that is going to make you a better player, today…
MYTH ONE: ‘Keep your head still’
If there’s one cure-all golf swing myth that Kevin Craggs always hears, it’s this. ‘It cures everything doesn’t it? The top, the shank, the slice. We’re quick to say you hit a poor shot because you lifted your head,’ he says.
‘In actual fact, you see golfers like Annika Sörenstam and former world number one, David Duval, who actually did the complete opposite. The head shouldn’t lift early, but it shouldn’t stay down because that restricts body movement.’
It won’t have escaped your notice that a golf swing is rotational. For Craggs, this makes your head position critical to success – and the myth is dead wrong:
‘If your head stays down, the body shuts down very fast and the arms almost collapse into the body – so you lose all sorts of connection and clubface control. Keep the head stable, yes, but keeping it down is an absolute no-no,’ he says.
‘‘Smooth back, quick through” would be more accurate, rather than this sudden burst of acceleration’
MYTH TWO: ‘Swing back nice and slow’
The classic advice is to tell someone to swing slow back and quick through. There may be merit in this, but for Craggs, it can also create an issue:
‘It can encourage a very uneven pace, because most amateur golfers will snatch the club at the top of the backswing rather than have a swing that’s got an even pace.’
‘“Smooth back, quick through” would be more accurate, rather than this sudden burst of acceleration that puts the body and club out of balance.’
MYTH THREE ‘Clear your hips quickly’
As myths go, this one is a doozy; people are often told to clear the hips as fast as possible in the downswing.
‘This is a huge myth,’ says Craggs. ‘What happens is, you get to the top of the backswing, you focus on clearing the hips, and then the club drops in behind causing pushes and hooks.’
‘We know the left side of the body opens up, but it shouldn’t be done in a ‘snatchy’, fast fashion. The hips travel about six or seven inches in a swing, and the club about eight feet. There has to be a timing sequence whereby the club is travelling equally as fast as the hips, if not faster.’
If we absorb the idea that all we have to do is clear our hips as quickly as we can, and then the club will come down, we’ll be sorely disappointed. ‘The club will only come down three feet and the rest of it is a flick, which is never good.’
‘A wide stance can actually be quite restrictive – shoulder width with the feet is wide enough’
MYTH FOUR ‘Take a nice, wide stance’
Advice on your stance, when it comes to the driver, usually says that a wide stance encourages a strong base.
‘But this isn’t necessarily true,’ says Craggs. ‘Nicolas Colsaerts hits the ball miles from a very narrow stance. Tiger Woods, another big hitter, also has a relatively narrow stance. A wide stance can actually be quite restrictive. Shoulder-width with the feet is wide enough.’
MYTH FIVE ‘Grip the club like you are holding a baby bird’
This is an odd piece of advice, given that approximately 0.08% of the population have ever had the opportunity to hold a baby bird – and it sucks for other reasons: ‘It’s a very odd statement. If you were to grip the club with so little pressure and swing at 100mph you’d never have control of it.’
‘You shouldn’t grip too tight, but think of something like a firm handshake. You need a level of control, otherwise the weight of the golf club is going to throw you, rather than you swinging the club.’
MYTH ‘Focus On Weight shift’
Unsurprisingly, there is a natural shifting of your bodyweight that happens in a swing. But, advising people to add to this movement can end in tears. ‘As you turn away from the ball there’s a natural loading that goes into the right, and it naturally transfers back into centre and then into the left side.’
‘However, when there’s a conscious effort to move to the right side in the golf swing, what you do is you shift the centre of the body.’
Craggs gives the example of a fairground ride – you wouldn’t suddenly move the central anchor point of a ride halfway through. ‘Your body, the axel, should remain constant. The clubhead swings around this constant. If the axle moves up and down, left and right, it affects your strike point.’
‘Any ‘effort’ to move weight onto the right side causes you to shift the whole axis to the right. At some point it’s going to have to shift back to the centre and you’ll struggle to get perfect timing.
It’s all about keeping yourself centred in the space: ‘Moving your centre away from the ball is never a good idea. Watch the modern pros, they have wonderfully centred swings.’
WHAT NEXT? Want to read more RSNG golf content? Then check out our exclusive interview with World Number One Brooks Koepka.
Kevin Craggs works with a number of Tour professionals, including Colin Montgomerie, Shaun Micheel and Paula Creamer. He has also coached Sandy Lyle, Stephen Gallacher, Mel Reid and Nicolas Colsaerts. Kevin is Director of Golf at IMG Academy in Florida/ He is on [Twitter]https://twitter.com/kevincraggsgolf
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