Is golf a contact sport?

By Janie C. Farina, LPGA

“My swing is so bad, I look like a caveman killing his lunch.” — Tommy Armour

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Do you “look like a caveman killing his lunch” when playing golf?

Are you “killing the ball” when you play, or is your golf game killing you?

Grip, trap, hit, penalty, stroke, hazard, out of bounds, unplayable lie, interference, hook, slice, push, pull, block, bogey, divot, bunker, smother, block, fat, thin, top, torque, smash… It’s no wonder, with golf lingo the way it is, seeing students ball hit for the first time resembles a mugging instead of a swinging.

So, how do we deliver that sweet smack that sends the ball sailing down the fairway while we get to a balanced finish position that you could frame in a picture?

So many golfers, instead, look like they are doing the “Mashed Potato” before the ball screeches dead right/left while the onlookers run for cover. To illustrate this point, at work we have a golf ball peppered steel pillar three feet to the right of the hitting area that resembles the dimples on a golf ball from top to bottom.

“Golf combat” can be destructive to our bodies, our equipment, and to our self-esteem on the golf course/driving range.

Here is some necessary ammunition to incorporate into your golf arsenal that will soften the blow of bad ball contact:

  1. Having a proper hold on the club minimizes golf ball shrapnel and insures that the clubface is contacting the ball in the correct fashion.
  2. An athletic posture/stance will facilitate balance, rhythm, and a correct swing plane through the ball to keep it on path. Muhammad Ali danced around his opponents, but knocked them flat with a well-timed blow.
  3. Slashing at the ball may feel powerful, but tempo and rhythm deliver a better smash.
  4. Aim like a target shooter — allow for eye dominance, and set up looking with both eyes focused on the target while placing your feet. Trust what looks right from behind the ball, and not believing the deceptive picture your side view delivers to your brain.
  5. Salute with the club to the target at the finish of your swing; a well balanced finish with face, chest, and tummy is critical to getting your target mission accomplished, vs. dangling the club, spinning and falling away after the swing like a right hook has plowed you over.

Golf doesn’t have to feel like a contact sport with the aid of a good instructor, proper equipment, and a peaceful mindset that will facilitate killing the ball, not your golf swing!

Keep the flow and let it go!

Janie C. Farina is an LPGA teaching professional of 27 years and can be reached at for questions, comments, and to arrange instruction locally.

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