Steady Head

By Hank Haney Photos by Dom Furore
October 27, 2008

One of the most important lessons a junior player can learn is that a correct, repeating swing happens around a fixed axis. That can be a tough one to absorb—especially for a younger, smaller player—because the instinct is to dip the head through impact to try to generate more speed and help lift the ball. This dipping causes inconsistent contact, and the player actually loses power.

A good focal point for a junior golfer—or any golfer, really—is to keep the head steady during the swing. Here, I'm holding Caroline's head while she hits some short-iron shots so she rotates back and through on a fixed axis. This way, her swing bottoms out in the same place every time. The feeling you want is that the clubhead, not your head, is swinging to the ball.

Body rotation around that axis is how you get the clubhead moving faster and in the right direction. When we did this drill at the range, Caroline could feel how much more clubhead speed she was generating, and how much higher her shots were going. That helped her resist the temptation to dip her head to try to help the ball up.


Vijay Singh earned his victories

Vijay Singh got a lot of attention during the FedEx Cup tournaments when he referred to himself as "the greatest putter in the world"—which he backed up by winning two of the four events and the $10 million prize. You can say what you want about his putting stroke, but I really admire Vijay's work ethic, confidence and willingness to try different things with his putting.


If you don't believe something—say, that you're a good putter—you can't become it. I think Vijay's willingness to do whatever it takes to improve breeds that belief and that confidence.

Jack Nicklaus used to say that the way people talked about confidence, you'd think you could go down to the store and buy some. Jack knows that it takes years to build it up and that it can disappear after just a few bad shots if you aren't mentally strong and technically sound. That's another reason to be impressed with Vijay's performance over the last month of the season. He stayed confident, even when he wasn't making some makable putts. He deserved to have those putts go in, because it's not like he doesn't practice. It's good to see that there's some justice in golf.

Hank Haney runs the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island and owns four golf schools in Texas. Click here for more tips from Haney.