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November 20 2012

4:08 PM

On the Mark: Steady the head

ON THE MARK ARCHIVE: Tips from Mark Immelman

By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Apart from the second stage of q-school, there was no golf on the PGA TOUR last week. Consequently, there were no immediate lessons we could learn from watching the world’s best players.

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Immelman

So, for my weekly installment of “On the Mark,” I decided to post an excerpt from an upcoming iBook we have slated for release. The book is called “Hitting the Driver with Power and Accuracy,” and it includes tips and ideas on how to hit a club that defines the games of a number of players on the PGA TOUR.

Let’s address a couple of principles that will help to garner a bit more power and control of this vexing and intriguing golf club:

Principle No. 1: Keep your head still -- like a putt.

Your first task in your journey toward hitting the driver longer and straighter is to realize that the driver’s properties are not too dissimilar to those of your putter. To clarify, the driver, like the putter, has a straight leading edge, and the ball is going to be launched at right angles to that leading edge at impact. To take this thought a bit further: I am sure that you’ve heard of keeping your body (and head) still when you putt? Have you ever wondered why that is? Well, that principle is to ensure a better chance of presenting the putter face squarely to the ball and at right angles to the target line.

So, in plain terms, the interaction between the driver and ball as they collide at impact are the same as the interaction between putter face and ball. The only difference really is that the driver is travelling at vastly higher speeds than the putter. So with all of that being said, if you want to hole a short putt, you need to keep stable so you can make an accurate stroke and square contact. Therefore, by way of comparison, it would seem logical that you would need to do the same things if you wish to hit the driver consistently and accurately.

To summarize, correct, powerful contact with the ball is the product of a dynamic, yet stable body action and the correct delivery of the arms and club through the hitting zone.

Principle No. 2: Accelerate in a balanced fashion. 

Too often, in a miss-appropriated and vain attempt to hit the ball a long distance, the golfer will accelerate his/her body too early in the downswing, resulting in major timing issues. It also leads to a severe loss in power. The power loss occurs because the early hyper-acceleration of the body (most often the pivot of the shoulders) throws the arms and hence the club off-plane and off-line and from that situation the golfer is reduced to having to make all manner of compensations to get the club onto the back of the ball -- none of which are in fact very beneficial.

The correct amount of acceleration at the correct time will certainly enhance one’s ability to make a square and accurate strike on the golf ball.

To summarize: A good swing (in this example, we can imagine a pendulum) exhibits a gradual acceleration from the top of its arc en route to its terminal velocity at the base of the arc. It is followed by a gradual deceleration en route to the opposite top of its arc, so the golf swing should exhibit this rhythm, speed and cadence.

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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