Debunking Popular Golf Myths

Golf is replete with myths. Covering everything from driving to course management, these myths are passed down from father to son, some in the form of golf tips on swing mechanics, others in the form of wise advice on how to do things. Unfortunately, many of these myths are just plain wrong.

Below are three popular myths I like to debunk in my golf lessons and golf tips. One or two of them may have an element of truth in them. The other may have no truth in it at all. Regardless, all of them embody ideas that can elevate scores and boost golf handicaps.

1.Aim at the Target
We’ve all heard this statement before. Maybe even said it. The statement isn’t so much mythic as it is confusing. The question is, aim what at the target? Your clubface? Your shoulders? Your body? The statement doesn’t really say.

The problem with this myth is that it can cause people to misalign themselves in one of two ways, hurting his or her golf handicap.

• aiming the feet, hips, knees, and shoulders directly at the target, leaving the clubface following a line well right of the target; or,

• aiming to compensate for ballflight errors, like when you aim left to compensate for the ballflight error of a slice (for right handers).

When aimed correctly, the leading edge of the clubface sits at a right angle to the target line while your body aligns parallel-left of the target line. This set up establishes perfect parallel alignment. This position doesn’t come naturally. So you need to work on it on the range to recognize when you’re aiming correctly on the course.

Here’s a drill I use in my golf instruction sessions. First, pick a target and lay one club down on the ground a few feet in front of the ball, but on the target line. Then, take a second club and lay it down parallel to the first but along your toe line to indicate body alignment. Make adjustments as necessary. Finally, hit a few balls and see what happens. After awhile you’ll have trained your body and eyes to accept this new alignment.

2.As the swing gets longer, it gets faster
If you’re like most golfers, you swing the driver faster than the 7-iron or 8-iron. Most of us invariably ramp up our swing speed with longer clubs because we envision hitting the ball harder and driving it farther. It’s a natural tendency, one I often see when giving golf lessons.

Unfortunately, when you ramp up your swing speed, you destroy your natural swing tempo—the total amount of time it takes to create your swing from beginning to end. That’s not good. When you start varying your swing’s tempo from club to club, you destroy the timing required to hit consistent golf shots. It’s one reason why you feel that you can hit your irons well one-day but not your woods, and vice versa.

All of us have our own swing tempo. Some of us have a fast tempo, like Nick Price. Some of us have a slower tempo, like Fred Couples. Either way is fine, as long as you keep the same tempo for each club in the bag. It’s not something you control. If it takes two seconds to hit the pitching wedge, it should take you two seconds to hit the driver. Practice consistent tempo with all your clubs and you’ll hit consistent shots.

3.Play the ball back with shorter clubs
Most of us vary ball position as we change clubs. The shorter the club, the farther back we position the ball. But incorrect ball positioning can create major problems. With the ball positioned too far forward, our shoulders tend to align too far left of forward. Since your club swings where our shoulders point, we slice. With the ball positioned too far back, our shoulders tend to close, encouraging a push or a hook.

While you should position the ball more forward for the driver than the pitching wedge, you should never place the ball farther back than center for any normal shot with a level lie, regardless of the club you’re using.

Remember, for normal shots on level lies, there are just three basic ball positions;

• Short iron: one inch left of center
• Mid-irons: two inches left of center
• Long irons & woods: three inches left of center.

In addition, always relate the position of the ball to your upper body, not your toes. Using your toes can create the illusion that the ball is positioned correctly when in fact it isn’t. For example, if you use your toes to position the ball with your foot flared out but then close up your foot, the ball seems to move forward in your stance, when it actually hasn’t.

These are just three of the more popular golf myths that exist, many of which I address in my golf lessons and golf tips. There are lots more. Unfortunately, many of them are just plain wrong.

So be wary of them. And don’t be afraid to challenge them. Even if you’re wrong, the worse thing that can happen is that you can learn something valuable about the game of golf.