Unless you have exceptional hand-eye coordination and arm strength, it's extremely difficult to strike the ball solidly without involving your lower body.
By leading the downswing with the lower body, you utilize the strength in your hips while pulling the upper body – and the club – naturally into the proper positions. You'll not only cure that over-the-top move, you'll develop the coveted inside-out swing path – key to hitting draws and maximizing power.
Of course, it takes work to ingrain a lower-body-first downswing. The best practice method is the classic “pause-at-the-top” drill demonstrated in this video. Pure ball striking is important, without question, but it is far from the only thing you stand to gain when you add some time to your pause at the top. All of the points above could find their way into your game if you decide to make this adjustment. Of course, like anything else in golf, it is going to take time to see these benefits. Even after you have successfully adapted to your new extended pause, you will still need to be patient as it can take time for all of the potential benefits to show themselves.
How to Get Pure Contact – Pause at the Top?
Every golfer wants to make pure contact at impact. Striking the ball solidly is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to make this game a bit easier. Make no mistake – golf will never be easy. However, striking the ball cleanly swing after swing will make it easier, as you will be able to control your distance and direction like never before. In the quest to achieve pure contact, golfers have looked in countless different places over the years. If you have been working hard to find the ability to strike the ball cleanly, you may not have thought of the idea we are going to present in this article – pausing at the top of your swing.
At first, this idea seems a little bit crazy. The swings of the best golfers in the world look so fluid and smooth, how could we recommend pausing in the middle of the action? Well, the first thing you need to understand is that every golfer in the world pauses in some form or fashion. They have to, as it is impossible for the club to change directions without coming to a stop. An object moving in one direction has to stop before it can move back in the other direction, so there is already a pause in your swing during the transition. Therefore, the question really isn't whether or not you should pause, but rather, for how long you should hold the pause. For many golfers, adding a bit of time to the pause will have a tremendously positive effect on the quality of their ball striking.
The importance of tempo in the golf swing cannot be overstated. At its heart, that is really what this conversation is all about. If you add a little extra time to your pause at the top of the swing, you will do your tempo a great favor. Taking more time gives you a chance to get 'organized' before the downswing begins. With your entire body working together properly, you should be able to deliver the club powerfully into the back of the ball. Not only will this kind of swing have plenty of power, but it should also be highly consistent. Rather than hitting the ball purely once in a while, you should be able to make clean contact the rule instead of the exception.
In this article, we are going to discuss a little more about why this kind of swing can be effective. Also, we will get into some instruction on how you can make it happen in your game. Pure contact is certainly an attractive offer for any golfer, so make sure you take time to read through this entire article carefully. By the end, you should have a great understanding of how you can implement this technique into your own swing.
All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Benefits of an Exaggerated Pause
As we have already highlighted, all golfers are forced to pause – even if only for a moment – at the top of the swing. The club simply has to change direction in order for the swing to be completed. However, you have full control over how long you pause. You can choose to pause only long enough to change directions and start down toward the ball. Or, you can make a longer pause, giving your body time to prepare for the movements to come. Obviously, we are going to promote the latter option in this article.
So what do you stand to gain when you use a longer pause at the top of your swing? Consider the following potential benefits.
- Added distance. Believe it or not, you can actually add distance to your shots by pausing at the top of the swing for a bit longer. This is something which surprises many golfers. The reason so many golfers rush through their swing is the fact that they are trying to carry as much speed as possible from start to finish. However, you have to remember that no speed from your backswing is going to be carried into the downswing. The club has to stop before it can change directions, meaning nothing you do in terms of speeding the club up in the backswing is going to affect your downswing power. By pausing a little longer at the top, you will give your body a chance to prepare for the downswing underneath the club. You should be better balanced on the way down, and your lower body should have the time it needs to get out in front of the upper body.
- Consistency. In addition to boosting your power, taking some extra time at the top of the swing can help you to strike the ball more consistently as well. As the title of this article would indicate, you can set yourself on a path toward pure contact by adding to the length of your pause. Your mechanics are going to be executed more consistently when you pause longer, and solid mechanics typically lead to a clean hit. If you would like to not only play good golf from time to time – but just about every time you tee it up – consistency should be something that you seek out wherever you can find it.
- Performance under pressure. You don't have to be a professional golfer to run into pressure on the course. Your pressure may come in the form of a casual match against one of your friends, or it could just be the result of trying to shoot a new personal best score. Whatever the case, you want to have a swing which can hold up to the pressure you are likely to find on the links. Adding time to your pause at the top will not instantly make you a great pressure player, but it will move you in that direction.
- Attack from the inside. If you are one of the many golfers who has long struggled with a slice, adding some time to the top of your swing may be just what the doctor ordered. Most of the time, a slice is caused by the player moving 'over the top' at the top of the swing. In other words, the club is pushed up away from the head during the transition, creating a path that will inevitably come across the ball from outside-in at impact. To get away from this bad habit, add some time to the top of your swing to give the club a chance to drop to the inside. You will be less inclined to force the club up and away when you pause at the top, meaning it will be far less likely that you will produce a slice.
Pure ball striking is important, without question, but it is far from the only thing you stand to gain when you add some time to your pause at the top. All of the points above could find their way into your game if you decide to make this adjustment. Of course, like anything else in golf, it is going to take time to see these benefits. Even after you have successfully adapted to your new extended pause, you will still need to be patient as it can take time for all of the potential benefits to show themselves.
Learning the Longer Pause
Everything sounds pretty easy when you read it in an article. At this point, you might be thinking that this adjustment will be a relative walk in the park. You head out to the range, add a bit of time to your pause, and away you go. If only it were that simple. In reality, you are going to have to work hard for this change, just like you have to work for everything in golf. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, it can take time to see all of the benefits of this new move show themselves in your game. Before you begin the process, commit yourself to seeing it all the way through. It is never beneficial to your game to jump from one idea to the next, so you need to commit to finishing this process before you ever begin.
Once you do get started, the best thing you can do is simply to head out to the range and hit some balls. Think about pausing for longer at the top of your swing, and see what happens as the practice session moves along. While practicing, keep these points in mind to aid with your progress.
- Trust your instincts. It would impossible for us to tell you exactly how long you should pause at the top. Besides, even if we could give you a number such as a half a second, you wouldn't have any way of knowing when that much time had elapsed. Rather than trying to attach a specific amount of time to this pause, you will be much better served to simply trust your feel during the swing. When the club gets up to the top of the swing, hold there for a moment and start down whenever the time feels right. At first, it will be hard to get into a rhythm with this kind of swing. However, as you gain experience, it will become more and more comfortable. Most likely, you will settle into your own natural rhythm without much conscious thought. Resist the urge to overthink this point and instead lean on your own natural instincts – you will be much more successful in the end when you take this approach.
- Don't rush the downswing after your pause. You don't want to go from a pause at the top to an out-of-control, rushed downswing toward impact. Instead, you want to accelerate gradually out of your pause to build up speed throughout the move down. Think of this in the same way you drive your car while out on the road. When you come to a stop sign, you are basically at the top of your swing. You pause for a moment, check traffic, and then begin again. When you set off, do you stomp on the gas pedal as hard as possible? Hopefully not. It is a better strategy to ease onto the gas, gradually accelerating the car up to speed. The idea is the same with your golf swing. When your pause has finished, pick up the pace gently until you work your way up to full speed just in time to strike the ball.
- Relax. It is going to be hard to hold your pause at the top of the swing if you are anxious about the swing as a whole. In fact, it is hard to do anything properly on the golf course while you are feeling anxious. This is a game which is best played while feeling relaxed, so work on that key on the range and then take it with you onto the course. Something as simple as a deep breath can go a long way toward helping you relax prior to starting the swing. Consider taking a deep breath as you stand behind the ball before walking up to take your stance. Breathe in deeply, count to three, and then breathe out again. With that complete, take your stance and hit the shot. This might seem like a simple thing, but it can work wonders for the way you feel while hitting your shots.
There is nothing you can do to take a shortcut on the process of learning a longer pause. You are going to have to hit plenty of shots on the range to get comfortable with this technique. The tips above should point you in the right direction, but it is going to be up to you in the end.
Adjusting on the Course
As any experienced golfer knows all too well, hitting shots on the range is completely different from hitting shots on the course. You might get rather comfortable and even confident with your new pause on the range, but that doesn't mean it is going to translate immediately during upcoming rounds. Most likely, you will revert back to your old ways once you set foot on the first tee.
It is important to understand that you are likely to face this kind of setback when you head onto the course. Knowing that taking your new swing from the range to the course will be a challenge, you can mentally prepare yourself for the task. To get over this inevitable hump as quickly as possible, keep the following tips in mind.
- Play solo if possible. It is great fun to play golf with other people, but try to schedule a solo round or two when you are working on adding a pause to your game. It will be easier to make the change while playing alone because you won't be worried about anyone or anything else. You can focus solely on your own game, forgetting about the need to post a good score or keep up with the group. Should you play with others during your first rounds back on the course, at least make sure you are playing with good friends who understand the change you are trying to make. Tell them that you are playing to improve your game rather than to shoot a good score, and let them compete amongst themselves if they wish. Putting pressure on your game immediately is only going to cause you to give up on your efforts to add a pause to the top of the swing.
- Don't keep score. This goes along with the previous point about not putting any pressure on yourself. Rather than keeping score as you would during a normal round, leave the scorecard behind and just focus on making good swings. There is no reason to keep score for now while you are just working on fine tuning your technique. Once you are confident that the new pause at the top of the swing has become comfortable, you can then return to keeping score as usual.
- Play an easy course. As you know, all golf courses are not created equal. If you have a variety of course options near your home, choose to play an easy course for the first couple of rounds after making this swing change. By playing an easier course, you won't have to worry about facing a ton of challenging shots throughout the day. Even if you find this particular course to be a bit boring normally, use it to your advantage by giving yourself a soft landing during this first couple of rounds.
There is an old saying that the longest walk in golf is the stroll from the driving range to the first tee. Regardless of whether the walk is just a few feet or hundreds of yards, it seems like a long journey because your game has a tendency to get lost along the way. While this is something that happens to every golfer, it can be particularly frustrating when you are working on a new technique. To be successful, bring plenty of patience and set your expectations rather low to start with. By using the simple tips above, you should be able to make this process a relatively painless one.
Pausing in the Short Game
You always want to think about your short game when making any kind of adjustment to your full swing technique. Sometimes, full swing changes will translate nicely into the short game as well. That is not always the case, however, as some adjustments are better left to only the full swing side of your game. When it comes to the extended pause, you will find that this technique should be left for the full swing only.
First, we need to mention that all of your short game shots are going to have at least a slight pause, just like your full swing. Of course, the club has to change directions here as well, so it does need to come to a stop. However, unlike the full swing, you are not going to gain an advantage by extending that pause. It would be better to keep the pause to a minimum, as you want to maintain great feel on and around the greens. Extending your pause will make it harder to control your distance on short game shots, and distance control is the name of the game when holding a putter or wedge.
When you make a full swing, you don't have to worry so much about distance control. You have determined your distance by selecting the appropriate club for the shot, and making any other adjustments such as choking down on the grip or playing the ball back in your stance. Once you start the swing, you are simply going to hit the shot with a free release through impact. Therefore, controlling your distance is not something that should be on your mind on a full swing. Controlling distance needs to be at the front of your mind, however, when chipping and putting. To make sure you have as much feel for the club as possible, forget about expanding your pause and simply keep your tempo up from start to finish. You aren't going to rush through the shot, but you aren't going to take any extra time, either.
Adding time to the pause you make at the top of the golf swing is a great way to encourage solid ball striking when impact rolls around. This might seem like a minor thing, but it really can have a major impact. During your next visit to the driving range, try adding some extra time to your transition and decide if you feel like you are more in control of your body and the club with this technique. While it may take some time to become natural in your game, an added pause can go a long way toward making you a better player. Good luck!