Mike Montgomery - Bellingham Golf & Country Club


Bio: Mike has been a PGA professional for 17 years and is starting his fifth season as the Head Golf Professional at Bellingham G&CC. Before heading north, he worked at Tacoma C&GC then Rainier CC in Seattle. A member of the University of Washington golf team from 1989 to 1993, Mike remains competitive by entering PGA sectional events, but enjoys teaching his members every bit as much as he does playing.

Teaching Philosophy:
‘I’m not a method teacher, but rather try to work with the student’s natural talent.  I believe golf is an athletic sport and try to instill “moves” that are common in all sports.  Building an effective, repeatable swing is much more important to me than building a picture perfect swing. That said, my teaching style usually varies from student to student.’

Contact: (360) 733-3450

Basic Rate: $45 / ½hr

Straighten Shots with Better Swingpath

When you hear your instructor, or a TV swing analyst, talk about swingpath, they are usually referring to the direction the clubhead is moving in immediately before and after impact. Swingpath, along with face angle, determines the line on which your ball leaves the clubface, so it’s important to get it right.

MM1MM2MM3MM4MM5MM6 When I teach, rather than just spout overly-technical golf jargon at my pupils, I like to use images and props from other sports they may be familiar with, so as to make the instruction easier to understand. Most golfers have at some point in their life played baseball, softball or T-ball, so their body instinctively knows what it must do in order to hit the ball towards certain positions in the outfield.

In terms a baseball or T-ball player would follow, golfers that slice their drives are more than likely swinging toward third base. Rather than starting the downswing by rotating their hips back toward the target and letting the hands and arms drop straight down, they tend to throw the club out in front of them then sweep it across their body as it approaches the ball (Image 1). The clubface imparts left-to-right, or clockwise, sidespin causing the ball to curve right. In golf-speak, this move is called ‘coming over the top’, and the clubhead is moving from ‘out-to-in’.

To straighten slices out, you must therefore begin by hitting from in-to-out; or, for baseball and T-ball fans, toward second base (Image 2). By developing a feel for hitting in that direction, your lower body will automatically trigger the downswing as your hips start to turn back toward the target before your arms and the club begin their move back to the ball. Your arms then drop straight down remaining much closer to your body, and the club stays on the ‘inside’.

Sometimes, once slicers have corrected their swingpath, they begin hitting push-fades where the ball starts right of target and unfortunately moves further right. I suggest they strengthen their grip a little which means turning the hands to the right (clockwise) slightly so that they can see three knuckles on their top hand and one on the bottom (Image 3). What was a slice, should now be a nice draw that starts to the right of center and curves left into the middle of the fairway.

Those that hook the ball obviously have the opposite problem. They tend to slide their hips laterally toward the target instead of rotating them, and get the clubhead ‘stuck’ behind them (Image 4). They then flip the wrists at the last moment, closing the clubface. The ball starts a little right of target, but curves viciously left.

I ask this golfer to imagine he is hitting toward short stop, or even third base. Their lower body now slows down a little, and the clubhead remains in front of them rather than stuck behind them (Image 5). If their ball continues to curve left, they should have a look at their grip which is probably a little strong. Simply turn both hands slightly to the left (anti-clockwise) so that you can see one, maybe two, knuckles on each (Image 6). 

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