With Buddhist practice, we aim for the Middle Way–something between the extremes the Buddha discovered by trial and error. The golf swing should be approached in like fashion, something I call Goldilocks Golf. The waggle, which has mostly gone out of vogue, it seems, works like a voltage regulator in a car. Get that voltage just right and your car starts like a charm. But if it’s busted, you better have road service. The waggle, in a sense, anticipates and sets the pace of your swing before it actually commences. Palmer and Trevino had/have pretty quick waggles and consequent fast paced swings. Nicklaus and Els have slow, leisurely waggles, and hence their long, easy swings. One is not better than the next. It’s just an expression of one’s style and even personality.
Once the waggle ends, the backswing builds momentum towards the transition. One teacher calls it the back sling. That means it should have some pace to it, something between a Matsuyama and a Horschel. A wide arc is advisable, since the wider the arc the more clubhead speed and, consequently, the further the ball will fly. Keep the forward arm straight, with the hands out in front of the upper body. DJ is a good example of this. The hands go as high as your body allows, something between a Justin Thomas and a John Rahm. Find your limit, then, if you want to extend it, increase it in very small increments over time. Patience here. Don’t hurt yourself. Stretching beyond your limits may mean an injury that puts you on the DL list. (This is all part of a mindful approach to golf, btw.)
I suggest the downswing to be about the same pace as the backswing. Remember, Goldilocks Golf. The idea is not to force acceleration going down. The backswing will sling the downswing into action. I suggest starting it with the following (right) shoulder heading towards the target, closely followed by the butt of the left hand grip pulling down and towards the ball. Jon Rahm exemplifies this quite well. Gravity will help keep everything on plane, giving you a good chance of striking the sweet spot while the clubface comes into impact square to the target. Of course, that assumes you’ve aligned your body properly to that target at address.
That porridge is “Just right,” exclaimed Goldilocks.
So where, you might ask, do the three bears come into this tall tale? They don’t. Bears don’t play golf. It’s too damn hard and they can’t bear it.
27 year old Sophia Popov, born in the U.S. and moved to Germany as a child, was a surprise winner at the Women’s British Open at Royal Troon in tough conditions. She almost gave up the game a year ago due to undiagnosed Lyme Disease which had plagued her for a number of years. She had some success on mini tours but wasn’t even an LPGA member coming into the Open. But now Popov is a member with five years of eligibility. Once again, golf demonstrates how a player can rebound with determination, grit, and grace. Congratulations, Sophia!
Golf also demonstrated what can happen when a great player slips into The Zone. Dustin Johnson won the first FedEx Playoff event at TPC Boston by 11 shots, highlighted by a 60 in the third round. With power off the tee and a deft touch on and around the greens, the rest of the field was no match for DJ who took his 23rd PGA victory without, due to the coronavirus, the benefit of any on-course fans. When DJ’s entire game is clicking, he’s hard to beat.
This week the top 70 go to Chicago on the march to the Tour Championship and/or the FedEx Cup trophy. Enjoy the action!