Whether you’re a beginner at the game of golf or you’ve been playing for years, chances are you would like to hit the ball farther and straighter, lower your scores, beat your friends more often and avoid injuring yourself in the process. Certainly, there is no shortage of tips from the Internet, magazines, your instructor or a sharp-tongued caddy, but if you really want to improve your game—with almost no effort—you might want to look to the East. I’m talking about applying a little ancient Chinese wisdom to your golf.
Jeffrey Zimmerman is a doctor of Oriental medicine, licensed acupuncturist and founder of Body/Motion/Energy Harmonetics, LLC, in Westport, Connecticut. After treating numerous patients who gave up golf because of shoulder, knee and neck problems, Dr. Zimmerman began to look closely into what was happening.
What golfers are doing wrong: Dr. Zimmerman listed for me a litany of bad practices. “Golfers are taught to put their weight on their heels or their toes—neither is good. They overrotate, trying too hard to hit the ball. They’re told to ‘grip the club harder’ when that might not be their problem. They’re taught that the more taut your body is, the more power you have to hit the ball. What golfers are not taught is the one thing that will help them to both improve their golf game and protect their joints—and that is to find effortlessness.” In other words, most golfer’s bodies and movements are simply out of harmony as they swing their clubs.
Dr. Zimmerman drew on his own expertise as a professional musician, martial arts practitioner and acupuncturist to come up with the principles to achieve effortlessness, which is the basis for the coaching techniques he uses in Body Harmonetics…
When golfers apply all three elements to their golf swings, they then can perform, in Zimmerman’s words, “effortlessly and excellently.”
To start establishing proper balance, you must first find your “plumb line”—this is the imaginary line extending from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet around which you are completely centered—not leaning with your weight on your toes or heels but on the balls of your feet, and not leaning to either side. When you have found your plumb line, you will know it—there will be no tension in your body.
When you address the ball before a swing, the plumb line establishes the path of least resistance.
Now that you’ve found how to position your body so that it is totally relaxed, you’re ready to begin to play better golf. These six positions help you establish the proper form, sequence and timing to maximize your game while minimizing your effort…
1. Relax into your joints: Address the ball by maintaining your plumb line as you relax your ankles, knees and hips to gently sink down so your club is aligned with the golf ball.
2. Transfer weight: Maintaining this position of effortlessness, transfer your weight to your back foot. Find your balance point on this foot (just below the ball of the foot)—as the club moves with the body and you transfer your weight. This actually is the first part of the two-part backswing.
3. Rotate: Once you have found the proper balance on your back foot, your body can rotate with very little effort. Allow your club to flow with you as you transfer your balance to the back foot and begin the second part of your backswing by rotating your waist approximately 45 degrees. With practice, this rotation will raise your arms to the point where they are approximately level with your heart. Note: If you feel tension in any part of your body, you’ve lifted your club too high. Also, if you are not in the proper place on your back foot, you’ll feel tension as you rotate. If you notice this, start again and practice finding the tension-free position until you get it right nearly every time.
4. Strike: Now, hit the ball! As your club makes contact with the ball, you will want to be right back in the “address” position for that brief moment just before your follow through. In other words, you will want your weight to be balanced in your center once again as you move your club through the ball.
5. Shift forward: After contact, let your weight transfer to your front foot, finding the same balance point as you did on your back foot—ideally, this looks like the mirror image of position 2.
6. Follow through: Rotate your body as you follow through your golf swing while maintaining your balance points, essentially creating a mirror image of your backswing, making sure it is easy and effortlessness throughout.
Once you’ve achieved complete effortlessness by applying these checkpoints, you’ll free up your natural energy from any constriction. This will allow you to hit the ball farther and straighter… you will feel the difference and your golf game will improve. As soon as you are comfortable with the feel of the checkpoints, just play.