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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf
instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots
– The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.