October 18, 2021
Solid Contact Equals Consistent Distance
Nick Price once said that he wasn't overly impressed with a player that hits it straight, but he was impressed with was someone that could hit it the right distance. Consistency is the key to a good golf game and that starts with making solid contact with the golf ball. If you have ever been to a professional golf tournament and viewed these talented players up close you noticed immediately that the ball sounds different when they strike the ball then you do. Yes, their clubhead speed is greater, but mostly it is the solid contact of the ball hitting the center of the clubface with maximum clubhead speed.
When you miss the center of the club the transfer of power diminishes greatly depending on how far away the ball is stuck from the center of the clubface. A strike that is ½ inch from the center can lose 12% of distance. A one inch miss could make you lose 30% of your distance. Also toe hits and balls struck high on the clubface will show greater variances, while low hits or heel shots will be less. The main thing is that all players should strive for developing a swing that returns the club consistently to the center of the clubface.
One of my favorite drills, if you were to take a lesson from me, is for you to make shorter swings with reduced power with a seven iron. The main reason is for you to swing the club with better control and balance so you are better able to strike the ball in the center of the club. Most are very surprised that their 70% power swing with a ¾ length backswing went as far or further then their regular full swing seven iron. Why? Because they met the ball in the center of the clubface with a more relaxed swing with better tempo.
I have been using this exercise with students for over 30 plus years with great success, but it was validated about twenty years ago when I was watching Tiger Woods warm-up at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tiger progressed through his bag hitting ½, ¾, and then full shots with every club. He was dialing in distance while establishing his tempo and consistency landing each club in the center of the clubface. Every time I have seen him since, he always include this drill in his practice sessions.
Golf is a game of hitting the ball the correct distance. Controlling the right distance should be a high priority for improving your golf game. Chart you shots into the green. Record how close you came to hitting the right distance. Was the shot an off-center hit? Compile at least five rounds and then you should have a good base of statistics to plot your strategy.
To improve your contact, I would start with half swings with a short club (wedge to seven iron) with 50% power. Concentrate on the flow of the swing and where you are striking the ball on the club. After a few practice sessions you will easily know when you are striking the center of the clubface. If you master this first drill then go to a three-quarter swing also with 50% power. Rhythm and solid contact is key! If you can't make consistent contact at a slow speed then chances of you doing it at full speed is not great. Progress by increasing the tempo (60, 70, 80% power), which will increase the clubhead speed at the ball. When done right, this will give you that "pop" or sweet shot feel that you are looking for. This should be a "right brain" or trusting swing. Center in on the feeling of the solid contact and the flow that is associated with it.