Tee Time: PGA pro tips to fine-tune your golf swing after a long winter
We know what you’re thinking right about now: the sun is shining, the links are green and that means it’s time to crush a few (hundred) range balls.
Wrong. But who are we to deny those caveman urges?
“People want to work full swing right now,” said Erroll Miller, head PGA pro and instructor at Breckenridge Golf Club for the past 33 seasons. “Short game is where you should be, but this time of year everyone wants to get back into the swing of things, pun intended.”
Any time spent on the driving range is useful (not to mention it just feels good), but Miller has been living and working at a mountain-town golf course for long enough to know the impact a long, snowy winter can have on your swing. Not only will you lose a few yards on all clubs, you’ll most likely also be rusty with core fundamentals, including alignment, club position and balance.
“It’s body alignment, it’s club position, it’s balance, and when you have those three things you’ll get a good swing path and arc more often than not,” Miller said. “(Also) work on finding your swing again and finding your timing, your tempo. That is so important for a solid golf shot.”
Miller took time from true opening day at the Breckenridge club — all 27 holes opened for play yesterday (May 31) — to break down the three fundamentals anyone and everyone should fine-tune in the opening weeks of the season.
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Anytime you stop by the range, Miller suggests using “guidelines” to give you visual reference points for body alignment. He uses three: two placed in a narrow channel around the ball to guide your swing path (or arc) and one placed between your legs to guide body alignment. These guidelines help you stay “square” to the ball.
First, place your guidelines — skinny rods, golf clubs, even string — based on an athletic stance over the ball. Stand with your shoulders parallel to the channel guides and your body directly over the leg guide.
Second, adjust your body to be slightly left of your target (for right-handed players) or slightly right of your target (for left-handed players). You club face should point directly at the target, Miller said.
Finally, relax, breath and get comfortable in this position. You should return here before every strike.
After setting your guidelines, take a few practice swings with no ball. The goal here is to maintain a smooth, powerful swing path that passes through the forward-facing guidelines.
Next, start hitting balls with the same body position and swing path you used with no ball. A consistent swing path means maximum ball contact, and in turn, maximum distance.
“One of the most important things for an effective golf swing is having a good setup,” Miller said. That means shoulders, hips and feet placed in the same position for every single swing. Let your body and club position get burned into your memory.
The final piece of the fine-tuning puzzle is balance. When taking full swings, Miller suggests adopting an athletic stance, with feet planted at shoulder width and knees actively bent.
From there, practice rocking back and forth from your toes to heels to feel how your weight shifts. The goal is to avoid these forward and backward positions. Know what both feel like, and then find a balance point over your arches.
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