The swing’s our thing: Don’t be afraid to try new ideas

We are endlessly tinkering with our golf swing. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve played – there always is something you’re working on.

Me, I’m constantly looking for new ways to tame the driver. Some days it goes left. Some days it goes right. I get on the range and see how it’s behaving and adjust my swing, stance and clubhead position accordingly.

But I never thought of trying what Viktor Hovland does sometimes.

I never considered double-pumping.

Check out this video of Hovland’s alternate swing with his driver. He actually stops halfway into his backswing, kind of recalibrates and then takes it further back before finishing his move through the ball.

He says he goes to it when he’s hitting his drives to the right, and it keeps his swing more inside the ball. He even gets more distance when he does it that way.

Fair enough. It’s getting results, and that’s all that matters.

It’s not his normal driver swing. If you see him doing that in a tournament, it means he’s driving the ball poorly and is somewhat desperate to correct it.

But just the very thought of it boggles the mind. How do you pause and get more distance? The flexibility of these guys is amazing. If I tried that, I’m afraid my back would never forgive me.

It’s just another example, though, of how to use your time on the range. Don’t go out there and just hit the same shots every day, with the same swing and the same approach. Mix it up. It’s a great time to tinker.

The most important thing is to hit different types of shots – high, medium and low. You’ve got to be able to adjust your swing and ball position for different situations – wind, cold, etc. If you’ve never tried it before, the golf course isn’t the place to give it a test run.

Move the ball back in your stance and see what happens when you try to hit it low with a shorter, more controlled swing. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much better your ball flight looks.

Practice hooks and cuts, too. Not slices … cuts. The controlled cut is an important shot that should be an option with almost any club, and especially the driver. Most courses are set up so that you need to do that once in awhile.

Even if you normally hook your drives, you can learn how to hit a cut. All you have to do is open your stance a little, change your swing plane to be more outside in and make sure your hips move through the ball at impact.

When I’m in a situation where there’s trouble left and plenty of space to the right, I try to hit what I call a “must cut.” I make believe there’s an invisible wall to my left, and I’ve got to get through the ball to put a cut spin on it. Even if I don’t get as much distance as usual, I’ve fulfilled the task if I’ve kept the ball out of trouble and still gotten good distance.

It doesn’t work every time – it’s not pretty when I double-cross myself and go left or open up too much and hit it in the fairway to the right – but I’ve come to trust it. It’s a go-to on a dogleg right if I have some room to maneuver. And even if it’s a tighter-than-normal hole, it’s a lot more reliable than my usual hook.

The pros do lots of things that are different. How many people can mimic the swings of Matthew Wolff or Jim Furyk? But they make it work, and you can make your swing work, too – no matter how different it looks.

It all starts with the tinkering. That’s another reason why this is a great game. That’s another reason why it’s endlessly fascinating.

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