Rythm and balance

by Scott Sackett, golf instructor

All great players have the ability to swing every club at a consistent tempo and with great balance. Rhythm and balance are linked.   Some players exhibit faster tempos like Nick Price and some exhibit a slower tempo like Ernie Ells, yet all remain balanced. The key to consistency is to maintain a smooth rhythm. 

If you rush your swing you will loose your balance and the end result is inconsistent contact and poor ball flight. Outstanding ball strikers are rarely off balance at impact and their rhythm is the glue that bonds their positions and movements. Often their swings seem effortless and they, as Julius Boros described, “swing easy and hit hard.” Great rhythm allows you to properly sequence your body motion and arrive at impact in a position of leverage and power.     

Ten-time PGA Tour driving accuracy champ Calvin Peete says the three keys to straight driving are “balance, balance and balance.” If you want to be a more consistent ball striker you must understand how the body should be balanced in four key positions. 

Although your spine is tilted to the right at address, you should have your weight evenly balanced between your right and your left foot. Also you should feel your weight evenly balanced between your heels and your toes, roughly on the balls of the feet.

Top of the back swing
As you pivot to the top of the back swing, your weight moves into the inside of the back foot. You should feel approximately 75 percent of your weight on the back foot and 25 percent on the front foot. The weight must never move to the outside of the back foot.

By the time you arrive at impact, approximately 70 to 75 percent of your weight should be shifted on to the front foot. Your head must be behind the ball and your hips must shift forward approximately 4 inches past their starting position. This increases the spine tilt by at least double.

The finish
At the completion of the follow through, you should have the majority of your weight, about 90 percent, on the outside of the front foot.

To help find your natural swinging rhythm, simply place 5 tees in the ground 4 inches apart in a line. Stand just inside the closest tee and begin swinging a 7-iron back and through in a continuous swing motion. Begin walking forward, clipping each tee out of the ground in succession. Repeat this drill three times and you will find a swing pace that will allow you to keep your balance and still generate club head speed.

To achieve and feel proper balance:

Tee up five balls.
Take a narrow stance with a 7-iron.

Make ¾ swings. Try to feel what it is like to swing within  yourself, feeling the four balance points and smooth tempo.
If, after five balls, you feel good balance and smooth tempo, repeat the process with your normal 7-iron stance width. Try to replicate the feeling.