Despite the fact that the PGA Tour year now officially starts in the fall, a lot of pros still look at the January events in Hawaii and southern California as the real start of the season. And even though they're pros who play golf for a living, if they've taken a few weeks off before heading to a tropical paradise for the Sony Invitational or the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, they still can find themselves slightly out-of-sync with their game. I talked to Ben Curtis when I was out on the west coast and he admitted to feeling a little bit rusty. Just a small break from playing was enough to take him out of his game.And if the pros can feel disconnected from their bodies, anyone can! If you've been away from the game all winter, you probably need to be reintroduced to your golf body before heading out to the course this spring.
Let's reconnect you!
We're going to start slowly…and from the bottom up. We'll start by reconnecting you to the ground. If you don't have a sense of being grounded when you swing -- if you don't know where your body is in balance -- then there's no way of knowing what's going to happen to the ball when -- and if! -- you actually hit it. In "Fix Your Body, Fix Your Swing," I talked about the need to create control, not chaos. If you're not in balance when you swing, you're creating chaos. If, however, you know how to move your body in an aware way from address through your backswing, into your downswing, and then through impact and your follow-through, you're creating control.
And it starts with being aware of your feet. More specifically, it's about being aware of the four corners of your feet.
Grab a club, a bath towel, and a piece of tape. Now, take your shoes off. Yes, I know you don't play golf in your socks or with bare feet, but to really understand balance, you have to be able to feel how your feet interact with the ground. And that's tough if you're wearing stiff-soled shoes. Trying to fully understand balance while wearing shoes is like trying to use chopsticks while wearing boxing gloves.
Roll the towel up very tightly and place it on the floor. Stand over it as if you're addressing the ball. The towel should run under the arches of both your feet. Immediately, this should give you a sense of there being a front of your foot (the ball of your foot and your toes) and a back of your foot (your heel). Place a piece of tape on the towel exactly half-way between your feet. This is your center. Now, take your club and start waggling it. You should start to get a sense of the inside edge of your foot and the outside edge of your foot.
Congratulations, you've just connected with the four corners of your feet -- the ball of your foot, the base of your little toe, the outside edge of your heel, and the inside edge of your heel.
Now, while maintaining your address, look down. The tape mark should be directly under your tailbone. Slowly take the club back into your takeaway and up to the top of your backswing. If you're a right-handed player, you should have felt your weight shifting from the ball of your right foot to the outside edge of your right heel. Again, I really want you to get a sense of the four corners of your feet. Look down. Is the tape mark still under your tailbone? If it is, that's great. If your hips slid to the right, it means that you're not as grounded and stable as you need to be.
Keep repeating this until you can keep your center centered at the top of your backswing while being aware of your weight shifting from the various corners of your feet. When you've mastered it in slow motion, try to nail it in real-time. And after you've mastered it in real-time, try it in real-time with your eyes closed. When you get to the point where you can effortlessly keep your center centered and maintain balance and stability from your feet to your hips, you've become grounded.
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