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John Renslow: No secret to good swing

OK everybody, I’m about to tell you THE secret to the game of golf. Ready? Well, let’s hold on a minute. If I broadcast this secret, then everyone will know (at least those fortunate enough to live somewhere between Nevada City and Auburn).

That wouldn’t be any fun. Everybody would be out there shooting the same score all the time, golf ball sales would plummet, and your biggest problem would be hitting out of the divot you made yesterday. As you all know, I have your best interest at heart. So, I won’t ruin your pursuit of happiness with a quick fix that would leave you without ambition.

However, there is something about your golf swing that you should know. It is a basic, fundamental component to the swing that virtually all good players implement and nearly all poor players fail to recognize.



Truth be told, there is no single secret to a good swing. Heaven knows, we all have different personalities, a variety of skill levels, and a plethora of body shapes. But, there are common denominators, basic motions that when learned can transform your game from fledgling to fabulous.

Our topic today is a fundamental motion and position. In fact, I like to use the analogy of a house. If we were building a golf swing, like your house, you need a solid foundation. You’ve got a plan that includes framing and re-bar and concrete. Without them your house will not stand up to adverse conditions, we need to make sure that your base is secure.




The basis or foundation for the swing is good body motions. When your body moves correctly, it provides the support for correct arm, hand, and golf club motions. In other words, when your body moves correctly through the hitting area and on to the finish of the swing, it provides a firm podium for your arms, hands, and club to be in the correct position at impact.

The first order of business is to verify your body’s position at the end of your swing. Each time you make a full swing, your body (specifically your hips and abdomen) should be facing your target. Your spine should be nearly vertical. This position should be very steady and secure.

Ideally, you will hold this position for a couple of seconds. Enough time to ask the question, “Self … how did I do?” Take a quick physical inventory; hips square? belt buckle facing the target? Good. Now do it again.

Practice this without the club by criss-crossing your arms and putting your hands on your shoulders. Now simulate a swing with your body, each time finishing with your body square and steady at the target. After a few times without the club, grip your golf club and try it again. Then when you feel comfortable, try to finish in the same position after striking your golf ball.

It can seem simple and in many ways it is, but this one motion is the integral part of your swing’s foundation and for many people can add distance and/or accuracy almost immediately. You see, most people don’t make it all the way around with their body. The hips (and legs) are stuck leaving the arms and hands to do all of the work. We lose power and accuracy.

To make a dramatic point, try to throw a ball as far as you can (but, don’t hurt yourself) while seated in a chair. It doesn’t work very well. This is what happens when you’re trying to make an athletic motion without correct hip and leg motion. You lose distance and accuracy, and it is actually hard on your body. Your body is supposed to work together with your arms and hands. Unfortunately in many swings they are not in sync or even working against each other.

So, let’s make things easier on your body, increase your power by tapping into your core (using a little pilatés lingo) and improve your accuracy (by allowing your arms and hands to ‘swing’ rather ‘hit’). Every time you make a golf swing, do your best to finish steady with your hips and belt buckle facing the target. You’ll be so surprised how much more often the ball will fly toward the target … you may even want to keep it a secret!

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at jrenslow@pga.com.


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