Instruction
April 15, 2011

Saturday Morning Tip: All about word play

I've been writing instruction articles with the legendary teacher and Golf Digest Teaching Professional Jim Flick for more than 25 years. The one thing that always strikes me when we get together is how important the choice of words is to him. Whether he's coaching Jack Nicklaus, Tom Lehman or a 20-handicapper, the words he uses, and the images they convey, mean everything to him. Here are three examples, based on your goals of Breaking 100, 90 or 80, from Jim to you. Let's hope they help your game this weekend. And remember to please follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*

Breaking 100: The word 'power' can be the root of evil

I love power, but I hate that word in the context of a golf swing. Why? Because when a golfer thinks of power, it conjures up an image of brute strength to swing the club. Trying to be powerful only results in a death grip and creates tension in the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back. Such tension inhibits the muscles from firing quickly and results in slower--not faster--clubhead speed. Tight muscles are slow muscles. Relaxed muscles will hit the ball farther. If you feel your face tensing up at address, you're making to much of an effort.

Breaking 90: On pitches, forget the words 'world-class finish'

So many players who want to break into the next level try to make a picture-book finish and look

like a tour pro. That's fine for full swings, but don't think of a full-swing finish for pitch shots. Instead, concentrate on the club compressing the ball against the turf. An artificially high finish causes you to swing up on the ball, which usually results in either a knee-high bullet over the green or a chunked shot that comes up short.

Breaking 80: Resist the word 'aggressive'

Don't be suckered by those who say you have to play more aggressively. Even the greatest ball-strikers, such as Tiger Woods, play cautiously much of the time. Jack Nicklaus almost always played for the fat of the green and then relied on his putter for low scores. If you really want to shoot in the 70s consistently, you have to check your ego at the first tee. And don't let it come back into the game when you're tempted by, say, a long carry over water. Nothing kills a good score faster than penalty strokes.