By: Steve Williams, WGCA contributing writer Everybody has a tempo that is right for them individually. There are those who have had great success with a quick tempo. Players such as Chad Campbell, Nick Price, Lanny Wadkins, Hubert Green, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Hogan come to mind. Then, there are those with slower tempos, players like Payne Stewart, Fred Couples, Davis Love, Tom Weiskopf, Jerry Heard, and Julius Boros. All of these players have been successful! So, which is better…a fast or slow tempo? The answer is, the tempo that is right for that individual. The observant teacher will gain insight into which tempo is right for their student as they watch them practice and play. How do you get the golfer to swing with the tempo that is optimal for them? Let me make some suggestions, if I may. Here are some thoughts that you can experiment with for each individual. You can tell them to swing at a certain percentage of their full-speed swing. One individual might consider that he is taking a full swing when he swings at 80 percent. If you are trying to get him to slow down, you can suggest that he swing at 60 percent. This will work well for some, but not for others. I usually get better results doing it a little differently, though. I might ask them how far they hit their driver when they swing full and if they hit it perfectly. If they respond with 280 yards, I will ask them to swing slow enough that, if they hit it right in the sweet spot, they’ll hit it 220 yards. You might think that is a little ridiculous, because if somebody can hit it to 280, why would they be satisfied with 220? Well, I can tell you this: I have never, ever, had an individual swing the club that slowly after me putting that thought in their head, to swing so it would go only 220. Typically, they might back it off to 260 or so. This is the reason why I ask them to back it down to 220, because that is what it will take to slow their tempo sufficiently. For whatever the reason, this seems to work better with most people, rather than just telling them to swing at 60 percent. This can also be done using an iron. If someone tells me they hit their seven-iron 160, I might tell them to back it down to 130. Again, they’ll never back it down that much. Virtually every time, when swinging at a slower tempo, the golfer will notice that their balance is better, they hit the ball more solidly, and have not lost any distance. In actuality, once they get used to this slower tempo and the muscles have had a chance to adapt to each other, they will notice while playing golf (if they are observant) that their rollout distance is greater than when they swung the club faster. This is due to less effective loft at impact because of a better release. When you need to tell someone to swing faster, the key here is to recognize whether a fast tempo is beneficial or detrimental, and then helping them to find their optimal tempo. Then, leave a clear picture in the student’s mind as to which thought helps them to achieve the right tempo for them. Good golfing!
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