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Control the Power Fade

by Donald Crawley

Contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

Donald Crawley Hatboro, PA (Sports Network) - Certainly not because you have seen every conceivable version of "King Kong" and were really desirous, at the outset, of hitting the ball as far as the big guy could if he were playing golf on that lonely island where they found him. That is not what is causing you grief, desperation and wonderment of why you are still out there at every opportunity trying to emulate Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and, now, Sean O'Hair. It just happened during your efforts to stay on the fairway and, in thinking about it - as you are doing right now recollecting this past weekend's battle - it is really a matter of how you are holding the banana (not sure where your mind is on that one right now but get back here!) to determine which way your ball is going to head as you drive it off the tee, towards the fairway or your club's version of Sherwood Forest.

For right-handed golfers there is the "ugly slice." The ball slices when you impart sidespin on it from an open club-face at impact, the one that you do not believe is open, and the one that comes across your ball. In effect, slices at it. In essence, and most commonly, the face is usually open from a faulty grip. Most of the time, the club handle is being held in the palm rather than the fingers of the left hand. So, we start with the simple postulate of being able to differentiate one's fingers from the palm of the hand. How tough can that be? Most golfers do not believe what they are told until they see a video of themselves. That is the real proof.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is among the best on the PGA Tour at the power fade.
Aim the club-face square to the target, place the grip in your fingers, rotate your left hand over keeping your thumb on the grip and pressed against the base of your index finger. Got it? Grab a club right now. Hold it, no pun intended! Pick up the club, any club - but, preferably the driver. If you have one nearby, do it right now and try it! Alternately, bring this feature to the office with your driver.You are not swinging, just holding. The V formed between your thumb and finger will point toward your right shoulder and you will see two knuckles on your left hand. This is basic, never to be challenged, questioned, thought about, misconstrued or varied. Grasp the club in the base of your fingers of the right hand, matching a parallel V to your right shoulder, the parallel being with "V" number one of the left hand so stop looking for one on your shoulder. For lefties, just reverse this instruction or hold this page up to a mirror and follow along.

Summary: Finger grip, both V's pointing to your right shoulder, and light grip pressure. So, a little more than light will not destroy your intended goal and the club will no longer fly out of your hands and land further down the fairway than the ball.

OK, so now you have a decent grip. Can you stand with your back straight, tipped from the hips, chin out of your chest, and slightly flexed knees? If so, you have a decent posture and are ready to strike the ball... Simple game. Devised for children.

But (and here is the other shoe hitting the floor), even with the correct grip and a decent posture, you still have to swing the club on an arc in the correct plane and direction. Aha, it just became a difficult game once again. Not to worry, Snoopy, hang tough. Let's just stay focused on getting rid of that banana ball now and we will perfect the swing later.

To allow the grip to keep the face of the club square to the arc of your swing you must keep the grip pressure light - your own version of that, a comfortable one...you know, the bird that cannot fly away but that you do not squeeze until it stops breathing. And, your arms have to be somewhat relaxed but not so much so that they are "rubbery."

I know it looks as if Tiger, et al, have a rigid left arm or right if you're thinking Lefty. On the money with that thought, right? But, be careful because that is a subtle play of the words. Think about it! Those tour player boys are not trying to keep their arm straight. The left arm is extended but soft enough to allow you to hinge and un-hinge your wrists naturally. A huge bonus there. Just practice, practice, practice. They hit thousands of balls daily and you want to step up to the first tee on Sunday morning and lace one straight down the fairway without one practice swing at the range? Please!!!!

Take a page out of Tiger's book and practice swing with the club as if you are playing kid's T-ball, meaning that the club head is two feet higher than the tee. Tiger does this to try and match the rotation of his forearms with that of his hip. Don't quite understand that? Don't worry, just do it anyway and trust me on this one...it will help you cure that banana ball. Guaranteed.

Mission really accomplished.

Donald Crawley
Donald Crawley

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 29 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools, consultant to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, and presently at the Boulders Golf Resort in Arizona.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

Comments? Contact Donald Crawley at dcrawley@luxuryresorts.com.


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