(First entry in a series of instructional tips for teaching teachers program)
There are two types of spin that we all put on the golf ball. Good spin and bad spin. A low digit handicapper puts back spin on the ball. This is an example of good spin. He or she can hit the ball where they want it to go with good swing control, body stability and accuracy. The club face impact during a descending blow embarks back spin on the ball. Back spin creates lift, so that the ball gets up and it creates “bite,” so that the ball stops on the green. This is a learned skill and often a natural ability, for the player who can shoot scores in the 70’s.
The “bad spin” for a higher handicapper is known as side spin. The result is a slice or a hook when the player tried to hit it straight. Unfortunately, this is a result of bad technique. This is where the lesson gets fun! Try to teach the only the principles of club face position at impact. After all, the ball is spinning out of control for the simple reason that the club face is open or closed at impact. The reasons for this may be bountiful, sure, but your explanation and solution to the problem must remain simple in order to get the student to focus.
Start with a demonstration. Hit some 50 yard shots with the player’s 8 iron. Explain that a little swing can make square face angle contact with little effort. Have them try this and call it a “punch shot drill.” Students always need something to feel once you explain a resolution to their swing problems.
Observe if the player is making square contact and hitting the 50 yard shots straight. If so, have the player “grow their swing” and try hitting 60, 70, and 80 yard punch shots. If not, explain the importance of being able to punch a shot out of trouble on the golf course and demonstrate again.
Remember to keep it simple during the lesson. You may have to get complex when explaining the cause and effect of the student’s particular reason for an open club face that is producing their slice. But always keep your solution tactic simple. Try the “punch shot drill” next time you need to help the high handicapper get square like the low handicapper does it. Your student will appreciate the simplicity of the lesson and they will have a drill to practice when they go out on the range next time.
Adam C. Smith, PGA