Recently I watched a Golf Academy segment with Martin Hall that was all about putting. Turns out the second most important part of putting is rhythm, just behind aim. Is it any surprise that rhythm should be the most important component of the full swing? We all have funky parts to our swings, but on the days (or holes) when it comes together it feels so much better. Why? because we find our rhythm.
The speed at which you swing is your tempo. There are great golfers that swing fast and great ones that swing slowly, but they all have great rhythm. Rhythm is the relationship of the backswing to the downswing. Good rhythm means SMOOTH and smooth means as little disruption to the swing arc as possible. When our rhythm is off we make all sorts of jerky and uncomfortable movements that disturb the arc of the swing. Mess up the swing arc and the results are never good. Rhythm allows us to gradually build up speed in the swing without throwing the club head off its optimum path.
So how do we fix, refine and ingrain good rhythm? Practice. But not just any old practice, practice that builds and conditions good rhythm, the kind of practice most of us never ever do, unfortunately. To start, you’ve got to build up swing length slowly. Begin with short flowing swings with the club in front of you and up off the ground. When you’re loose and relaxed, take some short ( 1/3) swings.
Now find the ground and feel the club head open and close. Remember where your hands are in relation to the club head when it feels right. Go ahead and start hitting some balls. Don’t lengthen the swing until you hit 8 out of 10 good ones, making nice crisp contact on the sweet spot. Put a mini draw on the ball to ensure the hands are working correctly. Gradually lengthen your swing remembering not to progress to a longer one until you can hit 8 good shots. If you can only make it to a halfway swing in a reasonable amount of time, then move on to the other clubs with the same half swing. Somedays that’s all you’ll get. Resist the temptation to hit full shots with bad rhythm. You’ll only set yourself back.
The next segment of practice is key, but unfortunately most never do it. For those of you who do, you’ll reap big rewards! Take a break and relax for 15 minutes. Then head back to the range and begin as if you were on the first tee. Play and imaginary round, hitting the required shots and taking your time between shots just as if you were on the course. Force yourself to swing only as hard as keeping good rhythm will allow. This is how you build discipline and confidence to play an actual round, making good rhythm your goal.
Most of us step up to the first tee and hit a bad drive because we have not gotten in touch with good rhythm. We then spend the next X number of holes desperately looking for it. Too often the round is half over before it starts to show up. Give the above mentioned practice routine a try.If you can do this then I guarantee that good scores will follow.