The Importance of Tempo

I hear this question a lot from golfers .

Why do I hit my long irons and woods so off line and my short irons so good? An even funnier question is this one…Why can’t I CONTROL my longer irons and woods.

Well to make it plain and simple…Most golfers go the opposite way with their tempo and how hard they want to hit the ball! Most golfers change it and swing physically harder with longer clubs. Ultimately what is happening is you are changing your Golf Equation. And that is the swing that you envision yourself both feeling and making. End result is…Excuse you while you hit a mulligan or provisional off the tee box.

When we are swinging longer clubs, it is going to feel faster just because of natural physics, this fools us into thinking we are swinging harder and faster than we really are. When in reality we are not, it only feels that way because of the longer shaft. Physics and gravity dictates that the longer the shaft, the faster the club head goes. Have you ever noticed how the swing of the better players around you, or of tour players seems to get slower as the club gets longer?

The reason for this is threefold.

1st The longer club is going to take a longer time to get back to the ball
2nd Better players understand that you must take more time with your swing in order to keep CONTROL of the club.
3rd The harder we swing the harder it is to maintain control of the club in what the shaft is doing. It is very easy to overpower a golf shaft.

As our clubs get longer so does our physical swing time, our physical arc width, and our physical arc length. All of these have an effect of how we strike the ball. For all intensive purposes, you should be taking more time with your longer clubs anyway. And NO, this does not mean to make a bigger or longer backswing, this happens automatically as we take more time!

To add more length to an already longer swing will only create a position of over swinging, and that has disastrous results. Most people don’t do this, they figure that they need to swing harder and faster to get the ball to go a long way. And I know that everyone of you has hit at least one shot where you did not swing hard and the ball went straight and a long way.

This was because of a simple reason…You were swinging in control of your own PHYSICAL CAPABILITIES and what your body was used to and could handle. And even more so the shaft being shorter allows us to control the club head better.

Next time you are out practicing, try this little experiment with yourself. Here it is.

10 – 20 balls with your wedge at 90% of your full power
10 – 20 balls with your 7 Iron at 80% of your full power
10 – 20 balls with a 4 Iron or hybrid at 75% of your full power
10 – 20 balls with your Driver at 65% of your full power

Now here is the caveat and this is where you will learn the most. As you hit each ball, increase the power by 1% and continue to do this until you hit one offline. When you hit it offline…that is your maximum distance for that club until…you have practiced only on that club at that power ratio and you have figured it out. If by chance you continue to have problems at that power ratio, after a significant amount of time with that club, this is your body telling you, I don’t know how to control the club at that speed and you should go get a lesson.

Remember we are looking to create leverage in the swing that will allow us to control it so that we can swing SMOOTHLY and hit the ball SOLIDLY.

Make no mistake, every top player in the world knows exactly how and when to throttle it down, and I have yet to see any player, anywhere, at any time, continuously swing a golf club and hit a golf ball at 100%, 100% of the time. It just doesn’t happen and the body will not withstand that amount of physical force and exertion.

Be very very kind to yourself when practicing, work hard to find that exact rhythm, tempo, and power that will allow you to efficiently swing smoothly and make good contact. Remember it is not a game of yards or meters, it is a game of inches. Par is only a number that, is relative to how many strokes a golf course architect, feels the average person will use to get the ball in the hole…if they are hitting the ball on a straight line and playing from the fairway!

Rough, bunkers, hazards, trees, or anything of the like are put in place to TAKE YOUR FOCUS away from the task at hand. That task is to swing effectively so you can hit the ball straight! All of the other stuff on a golf course is for appearance and to either challenge you, or throw you off balance. And you need to take all these things into consideration when you are putting your Golf Equation together.

My dad used to always say this to me. If you hit it in the right direction with the right amount of distance, the ball will eventually go on the hole. He was pretty savvy when it came to common sense. He knew his limitations, and I don’t ever think I ever saw him once try and hit a shot he knew was risky and that he could not pull off. Another thing he instilled in me was …If you play smart, you will play well!

Until next time. Hit em long, straight, and as few times as possible while on the golf course. Happy Golfing and Have a Great Day. I’ll see you on the lesson tee.

Robb Nunn
PGA Teaching Professional
Founder – Golf Equation Swing Academy.

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