Fundamental Tempo #2 – Avoid Intentional Changes
One of the classic mistakes that is made by amateur golfers when they get out on the course is making intentional changes to their swing tempo in order to produce different shots. For example, a player is on the tee of a long par five, he or she may decide to swing extra fast in order to hit the ball as far as possible. Or, if the player is in a tight spot facing a narrow target, he or she may slow the swing down in order to guide the ball toward the target. Both of these options are bad ideas, and they will usually lead to bad results. No matter what kind of shots you are trying to play on the course, your tempo should remain the same from the first hole to the last.
It is important to understand the difference between the tempo of your swing and the speed of your swing through impact. These are not the same thing, and one doesn’t even have all that much to do with the other. For instance, it is very much possible for a player with a slow tempo to have tremendous swing speed, and it is equally possible for a player with a quick tempo to have poor swing speed. So, when you are needing to manipulate the distance that you hit your shots in order to match the course in front of you, it is not the tempo of your swing that should be adjusted. Using a quicker tempo isn’t going to do anything to help you hit the ball farther, and it will likely lead to a poor strike and a wayward shot. The length of your swing, the club that you use, the grip you employ – these are all things that can affect distance, but tempo is not on that list.
If you need proof that this is true, simply look to the top golfers in the world. Players like Fred Couples and Ernie Els were among the longest hitters of their generation, and yet both use a slow and smooth tempo in their swing. While it might not look like it or feel like it, a swing with a slow tempo is just as capable of hitting a long drive or a powerful iron shot as is a swing with a quick tempo. Therefore, you need to resist the temptation to mess with your tempo on the course, instead choosing to repeat the same rhythm over and over again regardless of the shot at hand.
In addition to trying to add distance to their shots, some players choose to alter their tempo as a way to control the golf ball when accuracy is at a premium. Of course, this doesn’t work, and it should never be part of your game plan. The club should always be accelerating through the hitting area, as this is the best way to start the ball on line consistently. If you make a swing with a slower-than-normal tempo in the hopes of hitting a precise shot, you are more than likely going to wind up disappointed. Again, the adjustments to your swing should be made in other ways if you want to place a premium on accuracy. Some things you can do to improve your accuracy on a specific shot include choking down on the grip a few inches, moving the ball back in your stance for a lower flight, and even making a shorter swing with a longer club. Focusing on accuracy when the course gets tight is a great idea, just don’t do it at the expense of your tempo.