19th Hole

Kim Anders
Director of Instruction
John Jacobs Golf Schools and Academies Estrella del Mar Golf and Beach Resort
Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, AZ

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Create Tension at the Right Time

Golf is a tough game. But, do we make it tougher than it needs to be?  Absolutely! So how do we go about making the game of golf easier, or at least so it requires less effort? 

Let’s see what we can learn from the players on the PGA and LPGA Tours.  Sure, they are professional golfers so they have to be good. It’s not often you see one of them make a swing that looks like a hard swing. They appear to swing so easy and yet the ball goes so far – how do they do it?

Golf is not a game of great strength, although most of the Tour players are very focused on their fitness routines and a certain amount of muscle mass does benefit their golf games. However, to watch most amateurs swing a golf club you would think physical strength was the only thing that mattered.

The way the mind works, we feel creating muscle tension translates into creating power, and in fact it does when created at the proper time. The problem is most people tend to create muscle tension on the downswing when we are attacking the ball, trying to generate club head speed so we can really hurt the ball. Tell me – how’s that working for you so far?

How many times have you decided to use some good course management and lay up to the hazard with a 7 iron instead of trying to hit your premier shot over the hazard. You make a nice smooth swing because there is no point in grunting, since it is, after all, a layup shot. You hit the ball right on the sweet spot, it flies 20 yards further than a 7 iron ever has and you nearly clear the water. With that easy swing. With a layup swing. 

It’s crazy – just think how far it would have gone if you had put a little effort into it! And there lies the problem. Your thought process is focused on how far you could hit the ball IF you put the amount of effort into the shot you normally do, rather than asking yourself, “How in the world did that happen?”

These muscle spasms that make the ball go so much further than usual don’t have to be such freak occurrences. They happen because you left the club alone and let it do what it is designed to do, instead of trying to make it do something. Shots like this can become the norm if you just learn from them and have a little discipline. 

When you hit this type of shot odds are very high that you exhibited some patience with your swing. A layup shot is kind of like a free shot. No grunts because it doesn’t mean anything. After all, it’s a layup shot.

No doubt you were calmer, or a little slower, with your back swing. And in the process you actually created some tension in your back, shoulder, and outside of your right thigh (left thigh for you leftys). This is when you want to create tension – on the backswing. Then you just release that tension and let the club get to the ball on its own. That’s why it’s so easy, so effortless.  You are relaxing, or releasing tension to hit the ball. And when you release tension like this you generate more club head speed than when you are holding tight and trying to make the club go fast. 

Try creating tension during the back swing and then releasing tension to bring the club down to the ball. You might find you hit the ball a lot longer and straighter with a lot less effort. If you’re having problems creating tension at the proper time, see your local PGA Professional.