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June 1 2012

4:20 PM

On the Mark: Keep your head steady

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM Memorial Day is a poignant holiday on the United States’ calendar; it sets aside a time for reflection during which we honor those brave men and women who gave their lives for the freedom and liberty of others. Americans celebrate these brave patriots by flying flags, laying wreaths at the memorials and gravesites and participating in uniquely American summertime activities – baseball, cook-outs and spending time on the beaches.
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For the golf fan, Memorial Day signals the beginning of one of the great weeks on the PGA TOUR calendar and the start of the summer swing of events including three of the major championships. Jack Nicklaus’s event, the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, is as notable an event on the world golf stage as any. Played on one of the great courses, Muirfield Village, the event always attracts a stellar field and anybody who is anybody in the world game looks forward to spending the week in the company of the Golden Bear. The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, is a man among men and a golfer par excellence. With 18 major titles, countless runner-ups and multiple PGA TOUR victories he is undoubtedly the standard-bearer in our game. Beyond the links he is, and has been, involved in a myriad of golf ventures, from golf clubs to golf apparel to golf courses to innumerable charitable ventures. He has also published a number of manuscripts on golf; the standout being a book that has a permanent place on my bedside table. “Golf My Way” is in my opinion the best golf instruction piece ever. Packed with wisdom from start to finish, it should be read by anyone from the seasoned golfer to the complete beginner. Indeed, every time I open it I come across a principle or a tip that challenges my mind and inspires the teacher within me. With that said I would like to share a golf tip from “Golf My Way” – a tip that Mr. Nicklaus calls “The Universal Fundamental.” It is a tip that can be applied by one and all and I guarantee that it will improve your ball-striking with every club in your bag: “I regard keeping the head very steady, if not absolutely stock-still, throughout the swing as THE bedrock fundamental of golf.” Jack Nicklaus As Mr. Nicklaus points out there are four major reasons for keeping a steady head during the swing: 1. The head, or at least the neck or the top of the spine, is the fulcrum or hub or axis of the swing. As such, any shifting of it up, down, or sideways must inhibit or weaken the spring-like coiling of the body on the backswing that is so essential to the generation of proper leverage on the forward swing. 2. Any shifting of the head, at any point from address to impact, will alter the arc and place of the swing, which, if not a totally destructive factor, is certainly a very complicating one. 3. Movement of the head changes the line of vision, and it tends to force the eyes to alter their image or focus. It is very difficult to hit any object you are not looking at. 4. As the heaviest part of the body, relative to its size, the head has a strong influence on balance. Few people are agile enough to retain their full balance during the exertion of a full golf swing if their head moves. So if you want to improve your ball-striking and your consistency take it from The Golden Bear and focus on maintaining a steady head throughout your back-and-downswing. If I might add, don’t worry that much about keeping your head “down” as that can impede the proper and free pivot of the shoulders. Rather, keep the head still until after impact – you will love what you see! Good luck. Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
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