Many weekend golfers start their downswing with a tense, violent motion, ruining their chance of making solid contact. The top of the swing is a critical transition point and should quietly lead into a smooth downswing. Thinking "light and lazy" at the top is a good strategy to promote this feeling.
Amateurs have a tendency to take the club back too quickly with the wrists. This reduces proper extension and gets the swing off plane. Here's a great drill to help you get the proper feel for the take-away. First, get into your normal address position, and then place or drop a ball behind your clubhead. As you initiate the backswing, roll the ball backward. Continue rolling the ball until it is well past your right foot (left foot for left-handed players). When doing this properly, you'll feel the opposite shoulder move under your chin. You'll also realize how straight the left arm (right arm for left-handed players) should be when taking then backswing.
If you want maximum distance and consistency, use a proper weight shift. Imagine a pole coming vertically out of the ground where the ball is resting at address. Make it your goal to get your left shoulder behind the ball and the imaginary pole on the takeaway--without swaying the hips. This ensures a good position to initiate your downswing. On the follow-through, your right shoulder should move past the ball and imaginary pole. When you do this correctly, you not only make a good turn, but a good weight shift as well.
The practice area is the first place any pro golfer goes to before heading to the first tee in a tournament. You too should develop this routine. Remember, the practice area isn't a place to worry too much about how you're striking the ball. Instead, it's a place to warm up and loosen your muscles. When you're ready to hit, start with a wedge and work your way down the set to the driver. Eventually, finish with a few wedges. This promotes good tempo and feel, which are vital to striking the ball correctly. It can even prevent injury!
Often times, golfers will make their stance wider and wider. While this is good for stability, it also allows for lateral movement, which can turn into a sway. One of my favorite drills is what I call the barrel drill. Start by keeping the stance approximately shoulder width apart. Now imagine you have two straight lines coming out of the ground outside your heels. You'll notice this allows for some lateral movement but, usually, a full turn is required in order not to hit the lines. Picture yourself swinging in the barrel and watch for some low scores.
There is a great temptation for many amateurs to fan the
clubhead open as they bring the clubhead away for the ball. It may add a few yards to some of your shots if you time it right
but that wonít happen with any great consistency. The clubhead
should really be square throughout the entire swing and your
hands should not twist if you are to deliver a square clubface to
the ball on a regular basis.
To do it right, take up your address position but instead of holding a golf club hold a bucket of range balls. (hold the bucket in front of you with both hands and hold the bucket straight up and down, not tilted) As you turn back to halfway keep the bucket straight up and down with the open end continuing to face upwards. None of the balls should fall out of the bucket. This represents a square clubface (back of hand facing in front of you). If you tilt the top forward the balls will obviously fall on to the ground. This represents a closed clubface (back of the left hand facing to the ground). If the balls fall out of the bucket behind you it means your hands have, in effect opened the clubface (back of the left hand facing the sky).
It is the same for the follow through. As you swing past the imaginary impact position a few balls may leak out of the bucket because of the acceleration in your swing. The top of the bucket continues to face upwards.
This drill demonstrates very well the relationship between the back of the left hand and the position of the clubface. At address the back of the left hand faces the target, halfway back it should face in front of you while halfway through it should face behind you.
A driver takes the same swing tempo as a pitching wedge, and the same is true for all the clubs when taking a full swing. The consistency in tempo will lead to consistency in contact (and thus accuracy). For a proper swing let your arms lead and smoothly draw the club away with your arms, and let your body follow. Your left shoulder and hips will turn obediently, naturally transferring weight to your right side (about 90% on the back foot at the top of your swing).
For greater accuracy try pulling with your left arm from the top of your swing. And don't do like the pros and lead the downswing. Yes, this gives them power, but, for most golfers, it results in sliding ahead of the ball and causes weak, slicing shots.
Low and left causes topped shots. Keep the club face square for several inches after impact. Transfer your weight to your front left side (about 90% on the front foot on your follow through). Let your right knee rotate to face the target with your right foot up so the bottom is visible. Your hands should be high and close to your left ear.
Can you turn the club loose with the middle three fingers and
balance it on the thumb while gripping it with the little finger
only at the top of the backswing? Are the shoulders turned
enough so that the club is pointing toward your target? This is
a valuable (it is only an exercise) designed to get the left
thumb under the shaft so that the club will be balanced and ready
for the hit.
If you arenít getting the club back in the proper slot, correctly gripped, you will not be able to hold the club, let alone get it through the ball properly. Do not let it slip off. When youíve succeeded in developing the balance as illustrated, re-grip, swing through and do the same at the top of the follow-through. Golf is played with the hands. Therefore, the right grip takes preference over anything. Most players ought to grip with the back three fingers of the left hand and the middle two of the right.
Some golfers have stated that they get the feel of the hit with the thumb and forefinger of the right, but usually they are seasoned golfers. If you are not so fortunate as to play a lot, try using the middle two fingers of the right hand as your pressure points. Once this is mastered, concentrate on developing rhythm and timing.
NOTE: If you have trouble hitting your clubs correctly there is a good chance that your clubs don't suit you properly.
The reason for not improving your game may well be is due to badly fitted clubs. Think about it: people come in all different shapes and sizes, but most golfers simply buy their clubs off the rack in the golf shop.
Unless you are completely 'standard' and 'average' you should consider custom fitting for your next clubs. This can be done online, and it is free, quick and easy (and doesn't hurt a bit). Visit these two sites for free online club fitting, just follow the instructions given there:
'e-fit System' at GigaGolf
'Club Fitting Wizard' at Pinemeadow Golf