Tips for New Golfers
Don't be nervous to hit the course. The best way to start is to go out with a friend and play for fun. Here are some tips for new lady golfers to make you feel more comfortable teeing off.
When you're taking your practice swings on the tee, swing the clubhead several inches off the ground. This encourages you to swing more around your body (rather than up and down), which will help increase your clubhead speed and add distance. And when you're at the range, spend more time with your driver and woods than the rest of the long clubs in your bag. You'll be hitting these clubs more frequently than your 5- or 6-iron, so give them a good workout.
Set up with a wide stance, ball forward, weight on your right side and a tilt in your shoulders (your head should be to the right of your pants zipper). Then hold the driver far enough away from your body to allow for a big, powerful swing. My rule is that the butt end of the club should be at an open-hand's distance from your body.
A major source of power is the winding of the upper body against the resistance of the lower body. The more you turn your shoulders relative to your hips, the more momentum you create for the downswing. The hips unwind naturally and the shoulders follow, generating power through the hitting area, like a slingshot. To help feel the separation between your upper and lower body, turn your right toe in at address about 20 degrees, and swing. This will prevent your right hip from turning too much on the backswing.
Most slow-swinging amateurs slap at the ball or try to scoop it up into the air, which causes the clubhead to slow down through impact. There's no gradual buildup of speed, which is a defining trait of good tempo. To learn how to accelerate the club through impact to a full, balanced finish, practice swinging with your headcover on your driver. The additional resistance on the clubhead will force you to drive it through impact into a full finish, and will teach you how to use tempo to generate more speed and power.
To gain more distance, make sure to rotate your body's core, or midsection, through the shot, so your weight finishes on your left side. You want your thighs to finish close together--you should be able to hold a sheet of paper between them--and your lower legs to form a small, inverted V from the knees down (right image
). If the V is larger or there's a gap between your knees, your weight is not on your left side (left image
). Most likely, you're hanging back on your right foot, which causes the club to bottom out early and hit the ball fat or thin. Reduce the size of the V, and you'll improve your balance and gain distance.
To get the most distance and accuracy out of your tee shot, you need to sweep the ball off the tee rather than hit down on it. Learn what this feels like by teeing up the ball a few inches in front of your usual ball position, and practice hitting drives. Your arms will extend through impact and the club will catch the ball on the upswing rather than the downswing, sending it farther and straighter.
Lots of women lose distance by not releasing, or turning their arms over, properly through impact. When you don't release properly, your left elbow goes up after impact, your left palm faces the ground and your weight stays back on your right side. See how my left arm sticks out awkwardly in the left image? That's what's known as the "chicken wing." The resulting shot won't go very far, or in the right direction. With a proper release, the left palm faces the sky after impact, and your body weight keeps moving forward naturally.
Turn through to a full finish
To get the proper acceleration and weight shift through the swing, make sure your left elbow folds and points down to the ground shortly after impact (the bent elbow creates an additional lever, increasing your speed and distance). Practice this move by hitting drives while holding the club with a 10-finger grip.
Turn your driver upside-down so you're holding the shaft by the clubhead and swinging the grip end. This will make the club feel significantly lighter, so you can swing faster with your hands and arms. The grip end of the club should make a "whoosh" sound at the bottom of the swing; if it doesn't, you're not generating enough speed (and if it makes the sound at the start of the downswing, you're accelerating during the wrong part of the swing). After several practice swings, turn the club around and hit some balls. Your arms and body will be in sync, and you'll generate more zip with the clubhead.
To get the feel for the proper wrist hinge, take hold of a hammer as if you were about to pound a nail. You'll see that you gain more power from making swift strikes with your wrist, hand and forearm than you do if you used your whole arm. The same is true in the golf swing.