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For most of us weekend golfers, watching Tiger Woods completely dominate the field at the 2000 British Open was quite a spectacle. His ever-perfect accuracy and incredible distance make even the other pros on the PGA Tour shake their heads in disbelief. He has taken the standards of the game for professionals to a new level, and as an intermediate golfer, I feel lucky to have seen him in action. Watching Tiger play gives a me new hope that I might be a consistent golfer one day, despite the fact that I will never be able to make a living playing the game. But for most of us, his accomplishments at such a young age are a testament to his perfect and powerful golf swing, which is something that all of us who consider ourselves golfers can learn from.

They say that 80% of the game of golf is played between the ears and no matter how perfect a swing might be, a consistent golfer cannot allow himself to become frustrated. I know that it’s hard to stay focused after you slice a drive into a lake or some deep woods, but the mental ability to bounce back from a bogey or double-bogey is the most effective weapon in combating a poor shot. The other 20% of the game is skill and the perfection of a solid golf swing, which is something that Tiger can teach us all.

If you watch Tiger hit a 350-yard drive, you will notice that the sound of the club head striking the ball is unlike any other player. He hits the ball with such force that he is able to get these consistently long shots, but the fundamentals of his swing are what we, as mediocre golfers, need to concentrate on. The most important part of hitting consistent, straight shots lies within the stance, the transfer of body weight, and the swing itself.

If you are a right-handed golfer, forget about Tiger for a moment, grab your six iron, and approach a golf ball. With your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, align the club and ball to about the center or left-center of your stance. When taking a full swing with a club, you will want to play the ball off of your left ear, so imagine a straight line drawn from ball and club to the left side of the your head. Slightly turn or point your left foot about an inch or two outward toward your target, as this will allow you to come around on the ball and follow through much more effectively. Now, bend your knees slightly and sit back in your stance until you feel balanced. If you are balanced too much on your toes, you will fall back or off of the shot and push or slice the ball. If you are balancing too much on the heels, you will come too far over the ball and pull the shot. Bend your knees, sit back a little, and get a solid foot balance that is comfortable.

When you swing the golf club, try to focus on creating a one-piece swing without any major pauses or breaks in the swing. Though the swing is made of various arm positions, they all need to work together to achieve a fluid and effective swing. After you are comfortable standing over the ball, start your swing by taking the club back to about waist level in one piece. Keep the left arm locked straight, and allow the right arm to bend naturally as it may. Once the club is parallel with the waist, keep bringing it back until you have reached the top of your swing, which is different for everyone and their flexibility. Keep your head down and your body straight and begin the down swing. As you bring the club down from the shoulders, try to keep the wrists firmly straight and create an “L” shape from the right upper arm to the forearm and extension of the golf club. As the club head approaches the ball, keep the right elbow close to your torso and again extend the left arm until it is straight and the club itself is in line with the left arm. The club should be an extension of the left arm, and perfectly aligned with a straight left arm when the club head makes contact with the ball. Transfer your body weight via the hips towards your target when you swing through the ball, as this will give your shot more power and allow your body to flow in the direction of the ball. Once you have struck the ball, follow through the shot by maintaining stiff wrists and a stiff left arm, and let the club come around the left side of your body. When you transfer all of your body weight during the shot, your right heel should come off the ground as your body turns towards the target and your head begins to turn and rise.

These are the fundamentals of a good golf swing, and by practicing them you will begin to know the feeling of a fluid swing. Remember to envision the swing as one solid motion and to keep the wrists stiff at impact. Above all, remember to keep your head down and looking at the ball until the ball has been hit.

Keep these pointers in mind the next time you go to the driving range, and master the basics of the golf swing before anything else. If you follow these directions, you will develop a habitually fluid swing, and hit much straighter shots. Don’t try to be Tiger too quickly! Swing the club at an easy pace, and just concentrate on hitting the ball consistently straight. As you become comfortable with hitting the ball properly, you can swing harder for more ball distance. Develop a slow version of Tiger’s swing and you will still be a great golfer.