Golf-instruction myths: Why looking at the ball might be killing your swing

December 18, 2019
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J.D. Cuban

There’s a common belief among golfers that keeping your eyes glued to the ball will help you make better contact. Seems logical enough, but when your head stays locked in place through impact, your turn through the ball can be seriously restricted. And that can slow you down during the most critical time in the swing.

Think about how you throw any kind of ball. Your eyes move to your intended target, which releases your neck and lets your chest turn open. The golf swing should be no different. Body rotation through the shot helps with everything from power and accuracy—and yes, even making good contact with the ball.

Working with George Gankas, one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers in America, legendary coach Butch Harmon experienced the benefits of more rotation in a recent range session. Like many golfers, Harmon, who played the role of student this time, was concerned about his lack of flexibility, so they went to work on freeing up his body rotation. One area they focused on was an early head turn toward the target.

To understand this move, practice it in slow motion. Start the downswing by shifting to your front foot, and as you move into impact, deliberately swivel your head downrange. You’ll feel your shoulders rotating open as you extend your arms down and through. As this movement becomes more natural, you can pick up the pace until you’re practicing your swing at full speed.

You might find it helpful to have a target to look at. Gankas has you covered. Take an alignment rod and stick it in the ground several yards in front of you on your target line. As you swing down—well before impact—rotate your head to see the alignment rod. Trust that when you do this, your club will find the ball. As you’ll see with Harmon, it’s easier than it might sound, and the results can be dramatic.

This video is the first in our new series “Pro to Pro,” which puts two high-profile coaches in a lesson, one as the student and one as the teacher. In this episode, Gankas shares some of the drills he uses with his star player, PGA Tour winner Matthew Wolff. Between Harmon and Gankas, the session is packed with golf knowledge you can apply to your game.

Golf Digest Schools:

Butch Harmon’s lesson with George Gankas is one of more than 60 video programs available through Golf Digest Schools. Take your game to the next level with instruction from the top teaching professionals in golf—and the best players on tour. Become a well-rounded golfer with better swing technique, smarter practice drills, golf-specific workouts, and more. Best of all, you can bring it all with you anywhere you go. Demand excellence from your golf game with Golf Digest Schools, a revolutionary experience in golf instruction.