Golf Swing Lesson: You Don't Hit the Ball on the Backswing

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Salt saw a curious gentleman in the distance. Or rather, he heard him. He was pounding drivers on the range, one after the other.

He could hit the ball a long way indeed. Sometimes he would carry his drives 250 yards, very long for an amateur. Salt was watching him hit ball after ball with a furious intensity that intrigued him.

The man was working up a sweat from his high impact aerobic workout.

Not every drive was perfect, though. Sometimes he missed badly, maybe 40 yards right or left. Death on most good golf courses.

Salt did not know the man, and the man did not know Salt. So he stood politely at a distance, watching.

The man hit another fifteen balls before taking a break and looking up. It was the opening Salt needed.

"Good afternoon, I'm Salt."

"Hello, I'm Jim. Pleased to meet you, Salt. Not every day I meet a man named Salt. Don't tell me your last name is Pepper!" Jim was enthusiastic and warm, a friendly sort. Instantly likable.

"How's the practice session going Jim?" asked Salt, ignoring the question for the moment.

"Great. I'm getting good distance on my driver."

Salt nodded.

"I'd like a little more consistency, though. I guess we all would."

Salt approved. "Yes, consistency is the foundation of the game."

"What do you do for a living, Salt?" asked Jim?

"Oh, I help out around here, this and that, giving golf lessons and so on," Salt replied.

"You're a golf teacher? Wow. What do you think of my swing? How can I get more power?"

Salt knew that people tend to want more of what they already have, not what they really need. So he was cautious.

"Well, Jim, I was watching you hit balls and I'd like to make a suggestion".

"OK, shoot".

"Jim, I'd like you to slow down your backswing. Just a bit."

"Slow down? But I don't want to lose power." Jim was just a bit defensive.

"Jim, what part of the swing do you use to hit the ball?"

Jim was confused. "Well, the downswing, of course." He thought for a moment. "I see. What matters is the power in my downswing, not a fast backswing".

"Maybe take a few practice swings with a little slower backswing and see how it goes," suggested Salt.   "Think of Gary Woodland's swing.  He hits the ball a long, long way, with great control, and a very compact and controlled backswing."

Jim remembered seeing Gary Woodland's swing on TV, and recalled how stable and controlled his swing looked from start to balanced finish:

Jim did as Salt requested. His swings improved instantly. Jim was a fine athlete; it took a lot of ability to gyrate as he did and still hit decent shots.  He also had an excellent setup position which helped a great deal.

"Shall I hit one Salt?"

"By all means, have at it.  But first put down a club on your target line so we are sure you are aiming correctly."

And Jim did. His first shot was straight but a little weaker than usual.

His next shot, though, was very good. The third shot was the longest of the day, and straight. As was the fourth.

"Salt, I can't believe it. Thank you. I owe you. Would you like a beer? Sorry about my wise crack earlier."

Salt had moved along the range already. He waved at Jim. "No problem. Come back soon," said Salt.

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