In my last 2 articles, I laid out the 2 most important things in golf, which were;
- Creating a functional impact
- Repeating the above
Last week, we looked in depth at the repeatability discussion. You don’t have to read those articles to understand this one, but they will be linked at the bottom of this post for you (they are worth the read).
This week, I am going to introduce the 3rd most important element to good golf.
Getting away with stuff.
Nailing the Analogies
I like analogies – they help convey complex topics in a way that everyone can understand. So, here goes.
Just as a nail only responds to the input from the hammer – the golf ball only cares about the inputs from the clubhead. Hence why impact is the most important thing.
However, hitting that nail consistently is important.
Even if you make a horrible hammer swing, if you can hit the nail on the head each time then it’s fine. Similarly, in golf, a horrible looking swing might be perfectly fine if it creates a repeatedly functional impact.
This player’s ground strike, speed, face strike and club path may be highly consistent – just perhaps not as functional as a tour pros.
Repeatability is not what we think. If a nail is at a different angle, we will have to use a different technique.
Thus, repeatability is largely a product of our ability to coordinate our moving parts, not necessarily repeat a robotic motion. Similarly, in golf, we have to adapt to varying lies and clubs and shots – so coordination/skill is vital.
A Bigger Hammer
No matter how much we practice or improve our skill levels, we are humans and will always have some amount of variability with our club delivery. This is natural, and an undeniable part of biological movement.
Even robots/machines have variability.
Machines that test clubs still have to have some time to warm up and be recalibrated.
But imagine if we could increase our margin for error. Imagine we could take that natural variability and make it less detrimental.
This would be analogous to hammering with a giant hammer – we can effectively get away with more impact variability and see less outcome variability/more consistency.
The task is the same, but you can get away with more error with the bigger hammer
So, what are the golfing equivalents of a bigger hammer?
Low Point Position
If you don’t understand low point position, it would be worth reading this article (it is also linked at the bottom of the article).
The below image shows a player with a low point which is 2 inches behind the ball – this can be the case for many amateurs.
The bottom of the player’s swing arc (black line) is 2 inches behind the ball. Their club grazes the grass before the ball and just manages to pick the ball off the top of the grass.
This player may be able to create a functional impact on certain lies (perfectly teed up ones like above), and if they are incredibly coordinated, they may even be able to do it repeatedly.
However, using this technique, if a player were to have small variances in their swing arc-height (or the lie becomes tighter) they would see dramatic differences in their ground contact.
For example, if they drop just a little deeper into the turf, their ground contact would suddenly be several inches behind the golf ball.
In the above picture we see the same low point position (2 inches behind). However, a small drop in height (around 1/2 inch) causes a 4-5 inch ground-before-ball contact (pink star).
A small raise in arc height would also result in a severely thinned golf shot. Not a lot of room for error really.
This player is effectively stuck between a rock and a hard place, with a tiny amount of variance in arc height producing vastly different results.
Sound familiar? This is probably you!
Conversely, a pro may have a low-point which is 3 inches in front of the ball, as shown.
Here, we see the ball is struck on the downward part of the swing arc, then the turf is struck just after the ball – just like a pro.
Let’s see what happens when we drop swing arc a little deeper into the ground 1/2 inch as in our previous player.
Amazingly, by having the lowest point of the swing in front of the ball, the same drop in arc height of the swing only produces a fat-shot of about 1 inch. This is highly manageable and will not affect the result as much as hitting 4-5 inches behind (like our amateur).
This works the same when the pro accidentally raises their swing arc height, with a pro getting away with more variance.
The same amount of arc-height variance from both players results in less result variance for the pro.
They are using a bigger hammer than you – even though they have more coordination than you, they don’t need as much.
If a pro drops 1/2 inch they hit 1 inch behind the ball. If an amateur drops 1/2 and inch, they could hit 4-5 inches behind the ball.
Below we have examples of 2 different player’s strike patterns.
They both have a one-inch strike pattern (green circle), and they are both toe-biased. However, golfer 1’s strike pattern is more towards the toe than player one.
As a result, player 1 will suffer from
- More erratic gear effect
- More erratic distances
Once more, this is an example of how the same impact variance can create more result variance. This is why monitoring and improving your strike patterns is important for your improvement and performance.
Time to Improve
A functional impact will always be the most important thing in golf. But if you can improve your ability to repeat a functional impact, you are onto a winner.
Additionally, if you can also set up ways of allowing any inevitable variability to be less detrimental to your results, we are becoming more bulletproof. This article explored a couple of ideas to demonstrate this.
In The Strike Plan, I show you ways to improve the factors described in this article, as well as other technical pieces which can offer more consistency to your game.
Through visuals, concepts and drills, you can achieve quick improvements in your strike quality which also have long-term benefits to your game. Click the image below to check out The Strike Plan
Links to Other Articles
Here are links to other articles mentioned in this post.
This article is also one of a 3 part series. See below for the other parts