What Do You Feel?

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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After striking the next golf ball, I want you to ask yourself, “What did I just feel.” I often ask my clients this question and most of the time they don’t have a definitive answer. 

Every golfer wants to get better and certain steps are necessary for that improvement to occur. This could be in the form of technical improvements to the swing or others such as more practice or a more prudent game plan. If we are talking improvements to the golf swing, it is absolutely imperative that you become better at feeling what is occurring during the golf swing. I regularly say, “You have to feel it to fix it.” In order to feel it, you must slow it down. No one is better at this than LPGA Tour star Ai Miyazato. I encourage you to go to this link: www.golftoimpress.com/ai-miyazato-warm-up-drills/.  

At the practice tee, I will make swings that literally take 20 or so seconds to complete. Why does she do this? One reason is to feel what is going on with her golf swing. If we, as golfers, just get up there and see ball and hit ball with zero game plan, the results will be erratic and inconsistent at best. We don’t want to swing as hard as we can in case we hit it but rather create a golf swing that will have consistent results over a long period of time.

Sensing where the golf club is and what the body is doing during the swing is challenging at best and takes a while to develop. It has been documented that Jim Furyk had no idea his swing looped until he saw it for the first time on video, well into his college years? When I show someone their swing for the first time on video, rarely does the mental image match what actually plays. The lesson here is what we feel vs. what is real usually isn’t the same.

The takeaway: If you want to get better, it is absolutely imperative to feel what the club head, club face and shaft are doing throughout your entire swing as well as how your body is moving. I can say with a lot of certainty that most golfers are not currently feeling these things. Once you become better at feeling your swing, you will be well on your way to lasting improvement.

John is the PGA Head Instructor and Regional Manager for the TOUR Academy at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona – Home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And, 2011 Tour Academy Instructor of the Year. To book a lesson or comment on this tip, email John at johnst@touracademy.com.