In the first of our series on improving your golf game, CEO magazine brings you an exclusive interview with Keith Wood. Head professional at Brocket Hall Golf Club and director of instruction at the Faldo Golf Institute, he tells Will Hawkes how to improve his swing.
The first step to a better swing starts in your set up. This encompasses aligning the clubface, gripping the club, aligning your body and the posture.
Probably the most crucial thing is your posture, which involves setting the angle of your back and the flex of your legs. This will dictate how you are going to swing the club and your swing plane – this is a crucial thing to learn. This is not something you master as a beginner and never have to re-learn – these factors are monitored all the way through to the highest level.
One term which people use about the swing is that you have to keep your head still. It is a bit of a misconception. People talk about the head far too much. Since it is attached to your spine, it is the fluctuation of the spine that causes your head to move. You don’t want to fix your head position because that will cause all sorts of problems with weight transference.
What is important is the spine angle, and whether that is changing through your swing or whether your torso is able to rotate around that initial start position. The head bears very little relevance to things. People latch on to it because it is a visual thing. If you play with your friends, they say, 'oh your head came up'; that is really just stating the obvious. It is not fixing anything.
RELAXING INTO THE SWING
It is very important to be relaxed during your swing. It is like anything: if you want your body to perform an athletic move, then tension is an absolute no-no. You need to reduce that as much as possible.
That can sometimes be difficult because when you are put into a tense environment, the first thing you might do is tighten up. That might be physically, or it could just be your senses – your breathing gets quicker and your stomach gets knotted.
You have to relax: as soon as you can relax, points of leverage and muscles can work and it will make your swing much more successful.
The wrists have a key role. Their role is governed very much by the way you grip the club: if you grip properly, your wrists are in a position where they can function effectively.
Quite early to mid-way through the swing, you want your wrists to hinge and cock so that the grip-end of the club points between the golf ball and your feet. This will now establish a 90° angle between the arm and the club shaft.
This will help you create leverage. If you threw a stone, you would do a similar action. You create an angle to release it. That will determine whether you are successful in terms of aim and power.
Your swing is a very individual thing. Everyone, from the true beginners to the pros, has a different swing. The key is your ability to set yourself in the right position at the start, allowing the process to unfold. The golf swing is a sequence of movements: if you start in the right position and engage the right movements, the rest will follow. If you make a poor start to your swing, then those knock-on effects can be negative, affecting consistency and distance.