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Today's word on journalism

September 18, 2008

Partisan politics:

"Say 'conservative' and they wag their tails. Say 'liberal' and they bare their fangs. More to the point, say either and all thinking ceases. . . . [P]eople hear this doublespeak and cheer. Why not? They have been taught that words mean what you need them to in a given moment. Turns out, all it requires is a limitless supply of gall and the inherent belief that people are dumber than a bag of hammers."

--Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer-winning columnist. The Miami Herald, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Jerry Vonderbrink)

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Tips for Better Golf: Fixing that hook swing

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of five columns on common golf problems.

By Josh Perry

July 9, 2008 | Hitting that perfect draw down the fairway is what most golfers desire, but for a lot of people, that perfect draw ends up being a hook out of bounds. Getting rid of a hook isn't as hard as most people think it is. A couple of days on a driving range working on a few techniques can help reduce that hook into a smooth draw down the center of the short grass.

Starting from the bottom up is a good way to figure out what you're doing wrong. Your feet should be parallel to the ball and the intended target. If you're often hitting a hook, it's because your front foot at address is aimed to the right of the target. This stops your hips from moving through the swing and mostly your shoulders and hands come through, causing the ball to fly way left of the intended target. To see if this is causing the ball to snap left, try hitting a ball with an open stance. Line up to the ball like you normally would, except move only your front foot to the left of your target if you swing righty. If the ball fades a little to the right or it slices right, then your stance is most likely causing your hook. Go to the driving range and try laying a club on the ground pointing straight at anything you want to aim for. Line your feet up with the club and hit a few balls. If this doesn't work open your stance a little until you start hitting the ball straight. Everyone has different swings so if you have to have an open stance to hit the ball straight, that's OK. When on the course remember this tip to move that front foot in or out depending on how you are hitting the ball that day. Don't use this as a permanent fix, or else your swing will not be consistent.

Another reason the golf ball may hook has to do with your grip. For right-handers, if your right palm is facing your face when addressing the ball, then this will cause the ball to move left. When you swing through the ball your right hand is controlling whether or not your club head is coming through to the ball square. If your hand is open on the grip, which is called a weak grip, then you have more room for the club head to want to close more when coming through the ball causing it to have left spin. It's important that your club head is square to the ball when swinging through. To fix this problem move your right hand on the grip so that your thumb is on top of the grip. When looking down at your grip you should only be able to see your thumb. Your knuckles on both hands should be facing outward. This is going to feel a little different almost like you aren't gripping the club enough, but try to get over that feeling. When practicing this grip try moving your right hand around on the club head until the ball starts flying either straight or with a little draw.

A hook swing path usually happens when you take the club head inside on your back swing and you come inside on the follow through. This will cause your swing to be flat. So instead of your club being parallel to your shoulders just behind the back of your head on your backswing, the club is more level with the top of your shoulders. This swing will result in a hook or a hard draw. The higher up you bring your club in your backswing, the more it will go straight or even to the right. With your swing you should take the club head straight back and straight through. If you take it outside, the ball will move right, and if you take the club inside, the ball with move left. Try setting a mirror behind you when you practice swing and make sure that club head is going straight back and straight through. One way to know if your swing is too low is to take a look at your divots. If your divots look like there is more ground taken away by the heel of the club then your swing is too low. The divot should be the same depth all the way through. Remember that your hips, shoulders, and hands should all start on the down swing together. If your upper body starts your down swing and is ahead of your hip then this will also cause the ball to move left. Make sure that those three parts move at the same time down and through the ball. Take as many practice swings watching yourself as needed until you feel comfortable with that new swing change before you try to hit balls.

Something else to try when working on your swing is to take a club and rest the club head on the ground as if you were going to hit a ball. Take two tees and stick one just past the toe of the club and one just past the heel of the club. Leave enough room so that the club head can squeeze through the two tees without hitting them. Then place a ball in the middle of the tees and try hitting it. This will help you to control your club head at impact. If you can hit the ball without hitting the tees the club head should be square at impact and the ball should fly straight.

Hopefully these tips will help to stop that hook and straighten your ball flight. Take time to practice these tips and remember you don't always have to be hitting balls. Practice swings are always good. If you want to practice with balls, I recommend doing it at a driving range. Don't use those driving nets at home. The ball may feel nice when it comes off the club head but there is no way of knowing where that ball is going. There is a good chance that you're training your muscles to swing wrong and, making it harder for you to correct later.


Copyright 1997-2008 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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