"The good player swings through the ball while the awkward player hits at it." - Ken Venturi
The golf swing, when performed correctly, is not a natural move. To groove an effective swing plane, a person has to learn to trust a concept that is foreign to the mind.
Logic would tell us that to get the ball on line, we need to aim at the pin during the swing, scooping the ball and bringing the shaft straight up toward the flag after impact. You can see this misconception at work in the minds of most beginners and high-handicappers as they try to muscle the ball forward.
But to get the most power and accuracy out of the swing, a player has to learn to trust the concept of allowing the club to orbit the body—letting the ball get in the way of the clubface as it circles the spine. When the swing is performed properly, the clubhead actually impacts the ball as the shaft moves from inside out, seemingly aimed somewhat right of the target at the moment of impact.
The player has to have faith that as the club meets the ball during this circular orbit, it will send the ball off in the right direction toward the hole. If you try to swing straight back and through the ball, pushing it toward the pin, it forces the clubface either to swipe across the ball, causing a slice, or to close at impact, creating a hook or curve. This, I believe, is why over 80 percent of golfers regularly slice the ball. In essence, the swing is something of a dichotomy. If a player tries to swing straight with the club, it actually causes the ball to curve. But if a player learns to swing in a circular, curved pattern, the ball will fly straight.
When I teach this principle, I hold a hula hoop around the student's body so that he or she can clearly see how the hands must work in a circle to let the club correctly orbit the body. I encourage students to visualize their arms swinging around their spine and body like a helicopter—their arms being the blades and the clubhead being the tip of the propeller. The focus is not on hitting the ball, but on creating the proper swing circle. Then as we carry this same swinging motion to the tee, the ball simply gets in the way as the club swings through its orbit.
I can never stress enough the importance of this simple principle. Before we can ever gain any power or accuracy in our game, we have to first allow this free-flowing, circular pattern to be grooved into our mind and body. Otherwise we'll spend most of our time on the course frustrated and confused.