Would you take golf lessons from Arnold Palmer? Who wouldn’t? Palmer is one of the game’s greatest players. Nicknamed “the King,” he helped grow the game to its present popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Part of golf’s big three, which includes Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Palmer ranks as the sixth greatest player of all time, according to Golf Digest.
Palmer wrote dozens of golf articles and several golf books now considered classics, including “My Game and Yours” and “Arnold Palmer’s Complete Book on Putting.” His articles and books have helped dozens of players cut their golf handicaps. When it comes to teaching golf, Palmer favors a simple approach over the more complicated, computer-driven approach taken in today’s golf instruction sessions. Below are five of the King’s favorite golf tips from his books and articles.
1. Extend The Impact Zone
Shots often go astray because golfers roll their wrists at impact. To eliminate this fault, keep the club moving along the target line for a split second more than normal. Doing this extends your right arm on the follow-through and results in a nice high finish. But be careful not to sway toward the target. Instead, do what we tell players in our golf instructions sessions to do: Throw the clubhead down the line.
2. Adjust Your Stance
Use a wide square stance to hit a driver. A wider stance encourages a shallower angle of attack and a more stable foundation from which to hit. Also, narrow and open your stance as you go through your bag to your middle and short irons. Narrowing and opening your stance sets up a more descending blow for hitting irons. It also pre-sets the body pivot through impact. Adjusting your stance to match the club used improves control and accuracy.
3. Pinch Inward When Putting
The key to sinking more putts is staying completely still when putting, as we tell students in our golf lessons. To reduce body movement, create an “inward” feeling when you setup. Try to feel that your elbows and knees are “pinched” inward toward an imaginary axis running straight through your body from your head to the ground. This keeps your weight centered and your body quiet throughout the stroke. It’s Palmer’s top putting key.
4. Crouch Down On Bunker Shots
Weekend golfers often lock up on sand shots or drive through them. But if you watch good bunker players, you’ll notice two things they do differently than poor bunker players: They flex their knees, almost as though they are trying to sit down on a stool, and they use their arms to accelerate their clubs through impact. Flexing your knees and swinging with your arms reduces the need to rise up or drop down as you swing, and increase your chance of hitting the spot you’re aiming at the sand.
5. Chip To One Spot
When facing a tough chip shot, choose the club that best fits the situation. This lets you aim at the same spot on the green every time—just beyond the fringe. Club selection depends on the distance to the landing area to the hole and the slope of the green. And when chipping uphill, keep the ball below the hole. That way the back of the hole can acts as a backstop for the putt.
These five golf tips embody Arnold Palmer’s simple approach to teaching golf. Unlike today’s teachers many of whom use computers in their golf lessons, Palmer likes to keeps things simple and fun. Players looking to chop strokes off their golf handicaps could do a worse than following the King’s advice.