Column: The counter-intuitive nature of golf

Things that make sense in your mind don't always make sense on the golf course, says Chilliwack Golf Club instructor Jennifer Greggain.

Jennifer played professionally on tour for over 10 years, including two seasons on the LPGA.

She is the 2015 Pepsi Norhwest Open Champion and 2015 PGA of BC Women’s Champion, and is now the lead instructor of the Sardis Golf Academy.

She can be contacted at 604-798-9805, chilliwackgolfacademy.com, or at Jennifer@chilliwackgolf.com

 

 

There are a number of aspects of the game of golf that are actually quite counter-intuitive to how any person naturally responds to learning a skill.

I believe that the flight of the golf ball is a very important source of feedback to understand any undesirable patterns you may be having in your game. Having a good understanding of some basic facts is critical so that our nervous system understands what the golf ball is actually trying to tell us.

During the first lesson I have with most of my students, we will almost always have a discussion on grip pressure, and the effect it can have on a number of aspects to ball flight, especially on distance. With the famous quote “Grip it and Rip It” lingering in the back of almost every golfer’s mind, looking for more distance by holding the club too tight is actually one of the most common mistakes made in golf.

Although it seems that holding the club with a relatively firm grip pressure should result in more distance, it is actually one of the highest causes of power loss.

Achieving more distance requires an efficient transfer of energy from your body, through the club, and onto the ball. If your hands, arms and shoulders hold unnecessary tension during any shot, efficient energy transfer is impaired, resulting in loss of distance, among other undesirable consequences. Instead, relax and hold the club with a relatively loose grip pressure. This allows for easy energy transfer, and thus more distance.

Next, every golfer must understand the effect of aim and alignment on the direction and curve of a golf ball.

If a golfer’s system sees a pattern of undesirable direction, especially too much curve, it will almost automatically respond by altering aim and alignment to the opposite direction.

This adjustment seems perfectly logical and otherwise harmless.

What this nervous system doesn’t know is that adjusting alignment can highly enhance curve, making the result worse.

Over a period of time, this learning cycle will result in a seemingly incurable slice or a hook, and a very frustrated golfer.

So be sure to check your aim and alignment if you struggle with direction issues and too much curve to your ball flight.

Finally, many golfers, especially those new to the game, struggle with trajectory, specifically the dreaded ‘topped’ shot. This shot results from the club striking the top of the ball, and the ball rolling along the ground, and often too long or short of the desired target. If this is your pattern, your system may believe that helping hit the ball up in the air will result in a more desirable trajectory.

In fact, this thought process will often worsen the situation since the perceived method of striking ‘up’ often results in a reverse pivot with little or no weight shift onto the lead side of the swing. To combat this issue, be sure to remind your brain that a good weight shift onto your lead side, striking the ball in a descending motion is required to get the ball airborne.

So if you are struggling with a specific undesirable pattern to your ball flight, be sure to understand the facts of what the golf ball is actually telling you.

Often times, what your system believes could help cure an issue, will only cause the situation to become worse.