Are You Playing Hit and Hope Golf?
By Michael Hebron, PGA Master Professional, CI
Good golf is nothing more than predicting the flight of the ball before the
swing. Good golfers control the distance and direction of their shots. On the
other hand, most people play "Hit and Hope" golf they swing and hope it
goes where they want!
There really are many ways to swing and to play good golf. So if there is no
one way, what is a golfer to do when they look for information to learn from?
Thousands of books and articles have been written since golfers’ first
instruction book "The Golfer's Manual" was published in 1857. There is
some good in every one of these books, but if read by the wrong person it
would either be of little use, or even bad for their game. What is one mans
meat, is the next mans poison.
Information, ideas and suggestions any golfer is given must fit that golfers
style of play, physical and mental make up, practice and training time
available, current information base and the type of swing they are trying to
Some reasons people do not make progress –
• No plan
• Trying to learn the whole before the parts.
• Misapplication of information
• Trying to practice before training
Note: Training is acquiring --- Practice is applying
The universal goal of any sound swing is to use the fewest moving parts in
the smallest possible space, for the shot at hand. My suggestions to any
golfer who is looking to meet this goal are based solely on the physical
basics of the game listed below that have been the same from day one.
• The player has always stood inside the target line, and to the side of
the ball, making the required motion one that moves the club in an arc
around the body, motion that keeps the club in front of the body.
• The design of the club has not changed from day one, and this
design defines how the club is best used as it passes through impact.
o The handle is angled forward of the clubface
o The shaft is angled up from the club head on a roof like inclined
angle when its place correctly behind the ball at address.
o These two design angles, handle forward of club face and shaft
angle to the ground at address, are present before, during and after impact
in sound swings. The player for some specific shot requirements sometimes
alters these swings.
• A players' body should stay in balance in three-dimensional space,
up to down, back to front, and side to side. When the player does not, the
brain and the bodies balance centers in the eyes and ears introduce
unwanted compensating motions.
• From day one sound swings have had a motion that is in time, with a
beat and rhythm that can be repeated. When playing musical notes in a
composition, without playing them with rhythm and in time, it is just noise.
Sound swings must also move in the correct time frame, not too slow or too
fast, without an "in time" beat.
Balance and time are two core elements found in sound swings. They make
sound impact alignments possible. The ‘on balance’, ‘in time’, swing takes
the golfers body and club into sound impact alignments for the shot at
hand. Without them, sound mechanics are less useful and difficult to learn
Some may feel this is a very short list, considering the amount of golf swing
information that is available today. But the requirements of a sound swing
When you are training your swing, I suggest staying away from swing
thoughts, and become more aware. Ask questions like: "Was the club face
open or closed at impact?" "Was the shaft above, below or on the same lie
angle it was on at address, through impact?" "Was the club face behind the
hands through impact?" " Where was the shaft pointing at the top of the
back swing?" "Was I balanced?" " Was the swing in time with a beat?"
Answers to these kinds of awareness questions can give the kind of
insights that long-term learning is founded on. When the mind is filled with
swing tips the players ability to be aware is less that it could be. World-class
golfers and masters of their skills are more aware and therefore better
prepared, not necessarily more talented and gifted. They are also better
learners with insights others do not have. They realize the difference
between knowledge of information and understanding information.
Over time, most of us have learned the information that proved to be the
most valuable appealed to our logic, and was presented in a step by step
manner. This information was not necessarily simple, but it always led to
some insight that we did not have in the past.
When golfers look for ideas and suggestions to improve their game, many
want ideas to be simple, but if asked which they prefer - suggestions they
understand or simple suggestions, everyone I have ever asked votes for
ideas they understand. In truth simple ideas are often incomplete, leaving
learners confused and misled with results that are unsatisfying.
For information to be useful it must be understood, and many times what is
simple and what is understood are worlds apart. For example there are no
simple directions from my golf course on Long Island to the Long Island
Expressway. Any attempt to make them simple would add time or get people
lost on their way to the expressway.
Another example: When first learning to write a letter, we first learn our A,
B, C’s, then words, then sentences, then paragraphs. That’s a simple
description o learning how to write. It’s also painfully incomplete. There is
no mention of rules of grammar, punctuation, or capitalization, just to name
a few elements of writing left out. The former is a simple but incomplete
description of what must be learned to write a letter.
Many, if not most golfers, are frustrated with their level of play, causing
them to look for simple answers subsequently leading to the "any port in a
storm" approach to learning. At times it seems golfers are saying, "I know it
may not be the best idea, but at least its something to work on". Ladies and
Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, this approach is the foundation of frustration,
and will not lead to any long-term learning and progress.
When it comes to making progress with your golf lets start with what the first
players of the game started with hundreds of years ago. We start there
because over time the basic physical elements of the game of golf have not
• Physical Basics
• Its played with: a ball, a stick, a field of play
• Its object to influence: distance, direction, elevation of ball flight
• It’s motion has: a shape, a source of power for the shot at hand
• The stick or club used has: a head, a face, a shaft that all affect ball
• The player has always had: hands, arms, body that stay in balance in
• The player has always stood inside the target line and ball
• The stick has always been designed with the handle end angled
forward of the club face, and the shaft coming up from the ground on a roof
like inclined angle, like a hockey stick. Both these angles define the angle
the club swings through impact on.
I do not believe I have overlooked anything. These several elements have
all been the same from day one. Let's call them the Physical Basics of the
game that are at the foundation of any sound description for the game, the
swing, and its players.
When the stick (club) comes from the factory, it has a measurable length,
lie angle, face loft, face roll, face bulge, shaft flex, and over all weight.
Because of these constant measurements, I feel there is one best way for
that club to move throughout the swing and impact for the shot at hand.
One best way, but no one player in the world has ever made that perfect
Players come in different sizes, strengths, abilities and backgrounds. Every
world class player has made some personal adjustments in their swing that
would not be found in any description of the One Best Way. The point is,
while no one has ever made that perfect swing when learning to play and
swing, the physical basics have not changed over time. The physical basics
are non-negotiable and should be the foundation of any approach.
One of the challenges for players and instructors alike will always be
unsound swings that once in a while hit fairways and greens and even
make holes in one. But golf is a game of consistency, and once in a while is
not the goal of most who play golf. Golf is a game that rewards precision.
The more precision a player builds into their game the more consistent their
play will be. For any golfer to hit more greens, fairways and make more
putts, it requires a more predictable swing. Consistent more predictable
swings use the age-old physical basics as their foundation, not the next tip!
©Michael Hebron, 1997, 2008, all rights reserved.
cut here and take to range with you!
Michael Hebron's School for Learning Golf
Becoming More Aware
For this practice exercise I suggest staying away from swing thoughts. Ask
Was the club face open or closed at impact?
Was the shaft above, below or on the same lie angle it was on at address,
Was the club face behind the hands through impact?
Where was the shaft pointing at the top of the back swing?
Was I balanced?
Was the swing in time with a beat?
Complements of Michael Hebron's School for Learning Golf, please contact
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