>Stewart Cink published a great instructional piece on golf.com last year. He said many things I strongly agree with. The core thought is “Rather than bogging down your game with swing thoughts, you should work on drills that will help you become a more instinctual player,” and he goes on to offer drills and comments to work on for different types of shots.
With the driver Stewart emphasizes the importance of a “big and slow” backswing, creating a wide arc. Tips for your drives include to have your hands free from your body, and to agressively push your hands and the club away from the target on the backswing. This is something I’ve tried to do as long as I’ve played the game. I like having the feeling of someone attaching a string to my club head and pulling it backwards, causing the arms, shoulders, torso, and hips to follow suit. This helps me from getting ahead of myself in the downswing.
With the irons his focus is on tempo. Again, he’s concentrating on slowing down the swing. Some of the tips include trusting gravity to bring the club to the ball, and maximizing the pause at the top of your swing to make sure you’re in complete balance and make a smooth transition to your downswing. I find I hit my best iron shots when I feel like I’m just steering the club down through the ball rather than actually hitting it.
His wedge technique is fairly basic (keep still, play the ball back, more art and less science), but some of his comments about course strategy are very interesting: “I know a lot of smart people talk about hitting to your perfect lay-up distance, but that’s too much thinking in my book. Unless there’s trouble in front of the green, I just hit it as far as I can. My feeling is that the closer you are to the hole, the easier the next shot is. ” This definitely rings true with me. It can’t be easier to control distance from 110 yards than from 40 yards. The only benefit is that you’re hitting a fuller shot, so there’s less movement of the ball once it lands, but how often do amateur golfers really benefit from this? The margins for error are a lot greater at the shorter distance.
In the sand he likes to just have one shot, but using different clubs to get the ball up. For a longer bunker shot he’ll use a 9-iron, rather than trying to alter the power of the sand wedge shot, or taking a different amount of sand. This makes a lot of sense to me.
On the green Stewart is all about feel and distance. He’ll regularly practice putting with the edge of the green as the target rather than a hole, so that his sole focus is on distance.