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Own Your Game by Cindy Miller: Beware the old wives’ tales

People are motivated by one of two things. They want to stop pain, or they are seeking reward. Are you sick and tired of slicing your ball into the woods, topping your irons down the fairway, and three putting? Or, maybe you want to win the club championship, even if it is the D Division. Whatever your goal, you need to fix your mistakes.

How many major championships had Dustin Johnson blown before he won this year’s U.S. Open? At least two. Failing forward is what we do in this game. As long as you are open to accepting the lesson.

The No. 1 skill in learning to play better golf is to realize the ball is the only evidence of what you have done with the club. Yes, thell what to ball goes where the face points. If you can learn why the ball goes where it goes, you can learn how to control the club, which in turn will tell the golf ba do.

Learning to identify your miss and discovering why is key here. When most people top a shot, the first thing out of their playing partner’s mouth is, “You looked up.” Most people come to me believing they know why they miss shots, only to learn the real cause is typically something else.

“The Committee of They” tell you what you are doing wrong. Most will recite the five old wives tales:

• Keep your head down.

• Keep your front arm straight.

• Shift your weight/turn your shoulders.

• Hit the ball.

• Follow through.

These old wives tales are not true.

Keep your head down: When someone fails to get the ball in the air, the first thing they are told is, “You looked up.” The reality is, your head has nothing to do with getting the ballin the air. The clubhead has everything to do with getting the ball in the air. If the club head goes down to the ground, at the back of the ball, the ball will go up in the air. Brush the grass.

Keep your front arm straight: When you lock your front arm (left arm for right-handed players) it makes it difficult to swing the club. When you take the club back, your arm will pull you out of your posture. When you get pulled out of your posture, your body will move up. You will now either top the shot, or hit it fat. Relax your left arm.

Shift your weight/Turn your shoulders: When you try to turn and shift you will almost always move off the ball. If you move off the ball, it will be difficult to make good contact since your center has moved. If the club swings back and forth and up and down, the body will move in response to the club swinging. Your shoulders will turn and your weight will shift, on its own. Be still!

Hit the ball: Nowhere in the manual does it say you have to try to hit the ball. Most people who watch LPGA Tour Players comment on how easy they make the golf swing look. This is true. If you swing the club correctly, the golf ball will get in the way of the swing. Never try to hit the ball.

Follow through: If you swing the club head back and forth and up and down, the centrifugal force will continue to the end of the swing, or the follow through. You shouldn’t need to try to follow through. It should happen automatically.

If you are frustrated with your progress on the course, the first thing you should do is notice where the ball is going. If you slice your driver, clearly the face is pointed to the right. Why is the face pointed to the right? There are only two main reasons. Either you moved ahead of the ball (out skated the puck) or you pulled down with your left arm (right handed players). Those are the only two main causes of a slice.

If you are a firm believer in the five old wives tales, improvement can be difficult. You might need to learn to understand the golf swing first. Once you understand the physics of it, improvement can be immediate and simple.

Next up: The Mental Game.

Silver Creek native Cindy Miller, who counts the 2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year award among her many golf accomplishments, is writing the “Own Your Game” column for The News. Her next column will appear July 10.

email: cindymiller@cindymillergolf.com

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