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Many good golf swings are ruined by tension

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There is an old saying in golf instruction that goes like this: “You have to give up control to gain control.”

From a golf mechanics standpoint, it means that if your grip pressure is light and your arms are relaxed, the club will move more naturally and the golf ball will respond more favorably than if you had more tension in your body.

I see a lot of golfers ignore this idea and squeeze the club very tightly, with lots of forearm tension, and impose their own will on the club in an attempt to make it move a certain way. And more often than not, it’s the wrong way. If you just setup and let everything hang relaxed, the club face will naturally swing open going back find its way back to square at impact.

Let’s look at an example.

Recently, I had my first lesson with a really good player who competed in high school and college on accomplished teams. After graduation he got a job, got married and became successful at something other than golf.

Now, having some time to work on his game, this player wants to improve and be as good as or better than the collegiate version of himself. As we hit some shots and I watched his swing, it became apparent that he tense over the ball. I noticed the veins in the forearms popping out and his hands were squeezing the club. It was like he was gripping a live snake. The result of this was that he “imposed his own will” on the club and it went back dramatically shut with the face of the club pointing too much into the ground.

RObStranoGolf

The outcome was shots that started left and went left. Looking at the data, shots Nos. 5-9 clearly show the face pointing way left at impact. Both the ball angles and spin axis show a heavy left bias.

So what we attacked was his grip and arm pressure, and I explained how that was restricting the club as it went back. The results of the simple changes in these two areas was immediately visible in the ball flight and showed up in the data on shots Nos. 1-4 on the FlightScope screen. Everything we wanted to change improved.

This player’s club went from a left bias at impact to slightly right and his ball angles moved from too far left to slightly right on most shots. Since he was “letting go” with the hands and arms, the club face was able to open and close in a more natural pattern, and he was able to produce quality shots that didn’t start start left and go farther left.

Most golfers can learn from this, and you should learn to relax when you set up to the golf ball. Tension will restrict your club face from working how it should, and it will affect your ball flight, and your scores. So, lighten up!

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If you are an avid Golf Channel viewer you are familiar with Rob Strano the Director of Instruction for the Strano Golf Academy at Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Destin, FL. He has appeared in popular segments on Morning Drive and School of Golf and is known in studio as the “Pop Culture” coach for his fun and entertaining Golf Channel segments using things like movie scenes*, song lyrics* and familiar catch phrases to teach players. His Golf Channel Academy series "Where in the World is Rob?" showed him giving great tips from such historic landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, on a Gondola in Venice, Tuscany Winery, the Roman Colissum and several other European locations. Rob played professionally for 15 years, competing on the PGA, Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide and NGA/Hooters Tours. Shortly after embarking on a teaching career, he became a Lead Instructor with the golf schools at Pine Needles Resort in Pinehurst, NC, opening the Strano Golf Academy in 2003. A native of St. Louis, MO, Rob is a four time honorable mention U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Youth Golf Instructor and has enjoyed great success with junior golfers, as more than 40 of his students have gone on to compete on the collegiate level at such established programs as Florida State, Florida and Southern Mississippi. During the 2017 season Coach Strano had a player win the DII National Championship and the prestigious Nicklaus Award. He has also taught a Super Bowl and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, a two-time NCAA men’s basketball national championship coach, and several PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. His PGA Tour players have led such statistical categories as Driving Accuracy, Total Driving and 3-Putt Avoidance, just to name a few. In 2003 Rob developed a nationwide outreach program for Deaf children teaching them how to play golf in sign language. As the Director of the United States Deaf Golf Camps, Rob travels the country conducting instruction clinics for the Deaf at various PGA and LPGA Tour events. Rob is also a Level 2 certified AimPoint Express Level 2 green reading instructor and a member of the FlightScope Advisory Board, and is the developer of the Fuzion Dyn-A-line putting training aid. * Golf Channel segments have included: Caddyshack Top Gun Final Countdown Gangnam Style The Carlton Playing Quarters Pump You Up

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Me too

    Nov 13, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Sounds just like me! Minus the college golf;) Just like your student, when I ease up on my grip & arm pressure, it slows everything down and I’m able to get out of the way of my swing. Great tip.

  2. Matto

    Nov 13, 2015 at 4:26 am

    Many good golf swings are ruined by me.

  3. Chip

    Nov 13, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Great article Rob. I totally agree with tension killing the swing. I am curious- On a scale of 1 to 10, how light should someone hold the club?

  4. Pingback: Is tension ruining your otherwise good golf swing? | GolfJay

  5. Carlos Danger

    Nov 12, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Sometimes a lil “samson” will cure your tense swing. Actually, it will cure alot of things…

  6. Al385

    Nov 12, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    That’s the story of my life. Great article.

  7. NC

    Nov 12, 2015 at 11:27 am

    How did you attack his grip and arm pressure? Did you change his grip? Use a larger grip? Swing thoughts? Curious to know what worked for him. I realize everyone is different but would be interested in knowing what helped his situation. Cheers.

    • BigWednesday96

      Nov 12, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      This is such great advice. Not only can these suggestions help to improve your swing and ball flight immediately, it can also help in the prevention of injuries. I’ve struggled with too much tension in my swing for many years (mostly brought on by overdoing grip pressure). Elbow and shoulder injuries resulted. For me – the first step in alleviating the tension was to get properly fitted for grips. Most of us mid-high handicappers simply assume that standard grips are fine. My hand size is a bit larger than average and I discovered mid-size grips with a couple of extra tape wraps was what I needed. I no longer had to “strangle” the club in order to feel I had a secure grip.

    • MQ

      Nov 12, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Getting fit for the right size grips seems to be hugely overlooked. I was recently fit for a new set of irons and it appears I’ve been using grips that are way too small for me. I definitely had a tendency to grip the club way too tight, which is alleviated now that I’ve moved to a midsize grip. I feel much more comfortable holding the club and I’m striking the ball solidly much more consistently.

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