Jim McLean Shares Swing Tips for Mastering the Green

Jim McLean

For most people, the early stages of learning golf are difficult. Consistency seems unattainable. Efforts to improve seem futile. But I can give you some tips for a program of recovery, which will turn it all around.

First, know that you do not need to spend hours on the range hitting balls until your hands are sore (most people today don’t have the luxury of hours to spend!). Effort is not the answer – mastering technique is the answer, and proper practice with smart preparation is the key. In fact, swinging the club in the home for brief periods of time is often better than beating the ball on the range. The mirror, in the house, is a great coach.

Here are some key steps, what I call the Two-Step Swing:

Halfway Back: When the club, hands, and arms get into a good position going back, we can really help a person. With the hands over the back foot, and with the lead arm and the club shaft closely aligned, we are in good shape. I call this position the “Hand Back.”

The Finish Position: I love to get players to understand good balance in the finish so that they can, through repetition, ingrain a solid finish position. At the finish of the golf swing, I want them fully over the front leg, on the back toe, balanced on the front leg, standing tall, and with eyes looking level at the target.

Next, you can add more steps and progress to the Four-Step Swing:

The intermediate golfer is usually ready for what I call the four-step swing, which can be learned in 15 minutes. Building on the two positions previously covered here are two more steps, one going back and one going through.

The next step added to the backswing is full backswing position. Here you want a loaded up on the inside part of your back leg and coiled behind the golf ball. Remember to stay level with your tilt and head position throughout the backswing.

Impact is the swing’s moment of truth. Impact happens in a microsecond. “Why would you teach something that happens in such a short time?” Well, because impact is so different from address. I think it is very important for people to understand where they want to be when they strike a golf ball. We do this very slowly, and we repeat it many times. We actually have people start at address position and then shift the body to a good impact position, address to impact.

At impact, you want approximately 75-90% of the weight on the front foot. The back foot has rolled forward, and there is some air underneath the back heel. The right knee is kicked forward. The left arm and the golf club are in line, and the head is behind the golf ball, and the right shoulder is lower than the shoulder. The hips, the center of your body – are turned toward the target between a range of ten degree to maybe eighty degrees open. I prefer the hips in the range of ten to forty degrees open. The shoulders are almost square to the target line and not too open. The hands are also together, with no change in grip pressure. The left wrist has flattened and the right wrist is bent backward.

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