Common Practice

Fix your common flaws now

Golf is a game of minimizing your mistakes. It’s not about hitting it perfect every time; even the best players in the world are prone to an errant shot every now and then. The secret is in making as few unforced errors as you can, and fix the swing flaws that cause them to happen. The following pages will help you fix a few common swing flaws (that novice and advanced players both make) and get your game back on track to start shooting lower scores. Pay close attention to the swing flaws that look and sound familiar to your game, and heed the advice we have for you. With the right guidance, and a little elbow grease out on the practice tee, you’ll see lower scores in no time.

One of the most common mistakes golfers make resides in the palms of their hands. The more you grip in the palm, the slower the hands will work through the release. This leads to a lot of sliced shots that also don’t travel very far. It also creates a lot of consistency problems.
With a grip more in the fingers, and both Vs formed by the thumbs and index fingers, the hands can move faster through the release, resulting in greater clubhead speed and more power. Notice the difference in thumb positions here. A short thumb is what you want.


For a great drill to get the hands more active and to grip more in the fingers, simply flip the club upside down and make a few swings gripping the skinniest part of the clubshaft. As you whip the grip end around, you’ll find that a grip more in the fingers is a lot more effective than one with the club more in the palms.

Many golfers wrongfully set up over a driver with their head directly above the driver head and the ball. This reduces the needed shoulder tilt away from the target to promote a wide arc and weight shift to the back foot on the backswing.
With a grip more in the fingers, and both Vs formed by the thumbs and index fingers, the hands can move faster through the release, resulting in greater clubhead speed and more power. Notice the difference in thumb positions here. A short thumb is what you want.

A great way to get the body positioned correctly before you make a swing is to practice hitting a few drives with the clubhead situated a few inches behind the ball at address. This not only magnifies your shoulder tilt at address and promotes a more rounded golf swing, but also helps with your forwardswing, as well. As you swing down and through, because the ball is ahead of the clubhead at address, you’ll need to fully rotate and extend to make solid contact.

Try this drill a few times out on the practice tee. If it works for you, don’t hesitate to try it out on the golf course while you play.

If you take the club too far back to the inside, you run the risk of having a position at the top of your swing that leans too much over the ball. This means you’ll shift your weight to your right side on the downswing (opposite the proper direction) and hit all sorts of ugly golf shots.

Here’s the right way to do it! Notice how my head is behind the ball, my hips have turned about 45 degrees and my shoulders have rotated about 90 degrees. Also, my weight is predominantly situated over my right leg. From here, all I have to do is uncoil as the club whips through the impact zone. To copy this position, practice getting your head above your right knee at the top of your backswing as I’m doing here. That will prevent you from leaning toward the ball at the top and help you make a bigger, shallower, more powerful arc into the golf ball.

Telling you to extend, take the club back low and slow and make a full backswing make up only part of a successful backswing equation. The secret in doing all those things is to allow the weight to shift naturally to your right side. Don’t force it! In the golf swing, there really isn’t a weight shift, as some mistakenly say there is. As you rotate back and to your right side on the backswing, the majority of your weight will move by itself.

I’ve seen some students artifically create a weight shift by sliding to the right–a move predicated by little to no body turn!

So to ensure you’re rotating and not shifting, try this drill. With a golf bag next to you, if you can make a full backswing without bumping the bag, you’re on the right track. If you hit the bag, or knock it over by shifting your weight and popping your hip out, then practice making a bigger rotation without forcing your weight to your right side. With a few swings, you’ll gain a better feeling for what it means to rotate back and not sway or slide.

Impact! When you get here, the body should be rotating, the left arm should be in line with the shaft and your left leg, and the club should make solid contact with the golf ball. But what you can’t see so well from the photo is that my hands are actually rotating, as well. If they don’t, I won’t be able to release the club through impact, causing my arms to fold, and hence, you end up with the chicken wing. And mind you, chicken wings may taste great, but they have no place on the golf course!

Instead, allow the arms and hands to rotate through the shot, keeping the extension of your arms through the hit. The ungloved hand will eventually cross over the gloved hand, which is what you want. And by the way, the easiest way to ensure a good extension of the arms through the shot, is to remember that the arms extend most effectively when they’re placed in front of your chest. That means keep your body rotating through the shot and keep your arms in front of your sternum. Do that, and you’ll find it easier to make a full extension and avoid the chicken wing altogether.

Ken Green, teaches at Kip Puterbaugh’s Aviara Golf Academy in Carlsbad, Calif. For info, visit

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