How's Your Tempo?

Hello Golf Friends:

I hope this summer has you out playing, practicing, enjoying the beautiful green grass of the golf course!

This month I wanted to talk about tempo; rhythm; fluidity and all the other synonyms for swinging gracefully and easily.   TEMPO ALLOWS OUR BODY TO SWING IN SEQUENCE… it allows the physical parts you work on to fire together in one smooth swinging motion.

Tempo: The rate or speed of motion or activity; pace

One thing I stress with every student I teach is TEMPO!  And this is what I tell them:

“Good tempo allows our body to do the things we want it to do”

It’s a bit of a mantra… and I make them repeat it… slowly, smoothly, so that the words and voice used express how it feels.  Poor tempo makes us jerky, choppy, and out of sequence.

It’s called a golf swing, not a golf hit!!!!”

We don’t pull.   We don’t push.  We don’t hit and chop at it.  We don’t throw the club at the ball with our arms.  We swing the implement in a fluid motion and sequence.  The implement flows THROUGH the ball;  the centripetal force flowing outward from the body; through the shaft to the club head for maximum speed on its intended and natural path.    

IMAGINE a child on a swing.  You are holding the swing up above your head.   What happens if you violently push the swing?  The swing doesn’t swing on its arc… it jumps around; goes side to side; and quite possibly that child could get tossed OB!  (off the swing J)  But if you hold that swing up in the air and just let go… the child flows smoothly back and forth on the natural arc of the swinging motion.

 Now… we all have our optimal tempo… just like the swing; the heavier/bigger the child; the quicker the swing will swing. Our personalities help dictate our tempo… our stress and tension levels influence our tempo.  Good golf requires controlling our emotions so that we can let the body swing the club on its natural and intended path.  In other words; you may have an upbeat tempo or a slower tempo.  Either is fine as long as it lets you SWING the golf club.

When we swing in rhythm and balance; our body is allowing the kinetic sequence of the swing to happen.  The swing is a chain of events.  We can have some squeaky links in the chain but we can’t have a broken link.  Bad tempo is definitely a broken link!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was having a tough time for this month’s blogpost.  I’ve been busy teaching and preparing for the US SR Open qualifier.   I missed it by a few shots.  I was +1 through 9 and was just kind of going along; missed a couple birdie putts.  Swing felt good.  No reason to stress.  When I made the turn I bogeyed 4 of the first 5 holes!  My swing left… now, when I get quick, it’s at the top of my swing.  To me, it feels like it gets short in the pivoting motion of the backswing.  Therefore, I get a quick transition and I slide instead of pivot.  Well, I played four holes in a row from the right side of the golf course and missed a few makeable par putts due to grainy greens. 

 On those holes, my swing felt exactly like I just described above… short and quick.  I just had to regain my tempo.  Where did Mr. Tempo go?  No clue (Mr. Tempo is funny that way!)  He just went on vacation for four holes.  I played the last 4 two under; but too little too late. 

ON THE OTHER HAND… I had the great opportunity to play with Greg Kraft (PGA veteran and winner) He’s got a beautiful golf swing!  Turn, Tempo, Easy Power!  300 easy smooth yards and then some.

WHAT DID I NOTICE?  Two things jumped out at me.  First, I never saw his tempo vary on any shot.  I never saw him off balance.  E very shot had a beautiful smooth turn, pivot, and balanced finish.  Second, His pre-shot routine on full swings, chipping, and putting was the same every time.  He ended up medalist today with 69 (which included a two stroke penalty on our first hole for riding 50yards in the cart when the rule was we had to walk…. So, technically it was 67 of skill and 69 of mental miscue.) 

Sometimes we get so focused on mechanics that we lose sight of swinging the golf club.  For, if we don’t swing the golf club; we guide it, throw it; thrust it; hack at it… and so on.  None of which is good!

I have a few weeks before my next qualifier for Florida Senior Open.  While I’ll continue to work on my swing (just my habit to search for the Holy Grail) … You can bet you’re a$$ I’m going to work on tempo and routine even more!

I have three drills I really like for tempo:

  1. Tap/ Hit:  You can do this anywhere.  Grab a club and a sleeping bag, pillow, or impact bag.  Place it 12” behind your club head.  In your takeaway, hit the bag once kind of quick and jerky.  Then tap the bag in your takeaway.  Soft and smooth.  Very few good players exist that would HIT the bag.  We want to tap, not hit in our takeaway.

  2. Feet Together Drill:  Use a 7 iron.  Tee it up.  Hit balls with your feet together.  If you lose balance your swinging too hard.   Great drill for sooooo many things! Then, once you establish a smooth rhythm, slowly widen your stance to normal but keeping the same tempo.

  3. 50% Full Motion:   You can do this with any club and I’d love to see you do it with driver!  You assume normal set up and stance.  This is a full motion drill but you swing at 50 % speed.  So basically slow motion.  It allows you to feel the club head so well.  I also like to think Hideki pause at the top of this drill.

  4. One training aid I use is the Swing Click.  It forces me to complete my backswing and pause at the top.  You can check that out on line.

Challenge to you:  Go out and play a round just focusing on breathing, tempo, routine.  See what happens.  Swing the club; don’t hit at the ball.

Until Next Month,

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Paul Meyer

The Complete Golfer Golf Academy
813.502.9900
thegolfingguy@msn.com