Remain calm when your hands ‘disappear’
By T.J. TOMASI
It’s a frustration every golfer feels: Why does your game come and go on a seemingly random basis? One cause is the failure of your brain to track your hands after they leave your field of vision.
While you may not be consciously aware of it, your brain can easily keep track of your hands when they’re in front of you at address and follow them using your peripheral vision during the takeaway. But as your hands approach the 9 o’clock position (the ball is at 6 o’clock), they exit your visual field, forcing your brain to rely solely on its network of feel sensors scattered throughout your body.
Keeping track of your hands is important because they are the only contact you have with the club, and since they are the “feel center” of your swing, they function as the main means of tracking the clubhead. Basically, your hands are the clubhead.
Think of it this way: You start at address with your two most effective tracking systems on full go (visual and feel), and at 9 o’clock, you’ve cut your tracking information by half as your hands leave your field of vision. This is why the transition from 8 o’clock to 9 is a major breeding ground for swing error, and why, unless you practice or play a lot, feel alone is such a will-of-the-wisp foundation on which to build a consistent, repeating swing.
So it’s not unreasonable to focus some of your practice on the danger zone between 8 and 9 o’clock to make sure that the shock of your hands disappearing from your visual radar screen doesn’t trigger a code red emergency signal — the kind of warning that causes those disruptive lunges and lurches.
When you watch a good player, even one with a funky swing, what you are seeing is someone who has learned to remain calm when his hands (and by extension his clubhead) leave the visual tracking screen.
The key to calmness is to practice the transition so much that you correctly anticipate what’s going to happen, and when it does, your training carries the day. I recommend the following drill, which you should do 60 times a day for 21 consecutive days to insert it into your unconscious competence:
Close your eyes and, from your normal address position, swing your hands/club back to about waist high (8 o’clock). Since you haven’t cocked your wrists yet, you should be able to see both your hands and the clubhead in a straight line when you open your eyes.
This is the end of your takeaway, and the shaft should be parallel to the target line. If you are out of position, realign, then close your eyes again and let your brain register the feeling.
Next, do the same thing, but go to the 9 o’clock position. When you can repeat this correctly, start practicing it 60 times per day for 21 days.