Ben Harvey - Master the Transition - Think 'Skim the Stone'


Ben grew up playing at Sham Na Pum GC in Richland where he and friends would sometimes play 72 holes a day in the summer. He has worked at Shuksan for eight years, off and on. He started there when the course opened in 1994 but left a couple of years later to manage a Pro Golf Discount store in San Diego. He returned in 2007 and is now the head professional.

Teaching Philosophy: Once my student has the fundamentals of the address position correct, I like to talk about what he/she should be feeling during the swing. I do not want to concern them with getting the club into a specific position necessarily, as I believe that can add stress and prevent good tempo. Added to which, many people just can’t physically get into some of the positions some teachers advise. I encourage my pupils to visualize what shot they are trying to hit, remain relaxed and swing the clubhead freely.

Contact: 360-398-8888

Basic Rate: $45/45 minutes

Skimming a Stone and Swinging a Golf Club Require the Same Movements

Amateur golfers have a destructive tendency to make golf an awful lot harder than it really is. Because they hear the world’s best players and teachers discussing things like swing plane, weight shift, hip action, downswing lag etc., they believe they need to focus on these things when they swing the club, and that they’ll never hit good shots without giving them due consideration. What gets ignored is the golf swing’s No. 1 rule, namely that it be a swing. This easy drill will allow you to focus on swinging the club, rather than what your knees, hips, or elbows are doing.


There is no chance whatsoever of your being able to create good tempo and generate acceptable clubhead speed if you’re overly concerned with complex swing theory. If Tiger Woods, who practices several hours a day and is infinitely more talented than any of us, has difficulty adapting to the philosophy of certain teachers (yes, his record under Hank Haney was pretty good, but how often did we see him recoil in anguish after yet another mistimed and misdirected drive?) then what chance does the irregular golfer have of implementing the stuff he is working on? Seriously, why go there?
When a world-class player makes big changes, he loses his 'swing' and tempo, works on implementing whatever changes he thinks are necessary, repeats them thousands of times so they become entirely natural, then slowly re-establishes the swing and tempo. If you go to the course wanting to try something you saw Tiger doing, you lose your swing and tempo in the middle of the round. And you obviously don't have the freedom to hit the range for several hours each day, so your swing and tempo remain lost.
I have found when teaching that students respond well to ‘feeling a shot’ rather than attempting to create the ideal swing. I ask them if they have ever tried skimming a stone across the surface of the water at the beach, for instance, and then suggest they try duplicating the feeling as they swing the club. 
Have a look at the man skimming the stone in Picture 1 (okay, it’s me and it's a ball). Now look at the position of the right elbow and hips - almost the exact same positions you see in golf instruction books, right? And look at the hinge in the right wrist - that corresponds to powerful downswing lag. This is the result of a fluent transition which always goes before the powerful downswing.
Would the man skimming the stone swing a golf club like the guy in Picture 2? Not likely; that guy is coming way over the top. His clubhead will now approach the ball too steeply and from outside the ball-target line. He'll probably hit a weak pull-slice...if he's lucky.
The successful stone-skimmer swings a golf club like the guy in Picture 3. His hips are clearing, the right elbow is tucked into his right side and there is good clubhead lag. He will hit the ball powerfully, probably with a slight draw as the club is approaching from the inside. 
So, instead of spending hours on the range, jeopardizing my tempo by toiling to educate the right elbow to hinge and tuck, get my hips to start opening up to the target as the club comes down, have my weight shift on to my front foot as I near impact, or develop better clubhead lag in the downswing, I am achieving all the right positions simply by imitating the movements I make when skimming a stone.
It is very important that you feel the weight in the clubhead and allow it to swing. That and imagining something as easy and natural as throwing a stone will likely get you swinging the club more effectively, and certainly more powerfully, than you ever have.



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