Pro Tip: Henry Cotton Rules!

Henry CottonHow well do you know your golf instructional history? Most people think that golf instruction begins and ends with Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons” written in 1957. Golf instruction had been written for several hundred years before that, and one of the best writers ever was Henry Cotton.

Cotton won the British Open in 1934, 1937 and 1948. He was a great teacher and wrote several books, along with hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.

Henry Cotton was known as the “Hands Man” and he believed that the right hand not the left hand should control the golf swing. He was big on hand strength and believed the hands should control the golf swing because they were the only connection to the golf club.
   
One of his favorite drills (and one of mine) is to have a student hit shots with each hand, starting with the right hand and then the left. Cotton stated “If your hands, used independently, cannot send a golf ball somewhere towards the target you’re not going to use them properly.”

Basically Cotton was saying that you have to coordinate both sides of your body to make the golf swing work correctly and consistently. Try the one-handed drills and notice your right (strength) hand (more coordinated) will work much easier and will be held lighter (grip pressure). The left hand will feel weaker (less coordinated), and you will be holding the club much tighter.

First, you need to have the grip pressure with each hand be the same, and then have them stay consistently light throughout the whole swing. Your grip pressure should be somewhere between 3 and 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the tightest.

Another great drill is to take swings and go slow enough to maintain a “3” grip pressure during the entire swing. It will take a few balls but soon you will be swinging the club with a more consistent tempo.

“It is the control of the tension of the grip in the fingers which counts,” Cotton used to say. “This is the golf secret if there is one.”
   
It starts with the tension that we need to control...in the fingers, the hands, the arms, the shoulders and throughout the body all the way to the feet. The point being that the softer you can keep your whole body throughout the golf swing the more consistently you can swing the golf club. The lighter the body feels the more feel you will have for the club and the body.

In closing, I encourage you to remember your history. The great books of the early days of golf by Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Earnest Jones and many more were the precursors to today’s golf instruction, filled with simple, but precise feel instruction. Next time I will explain how feel can be taught. History has taught me that.   

Tom Shea is available for individual and group lessons. To contact Tom, call (813) 728-4466 or e-mail: tomshea@livehandsgolf.com. For more information, visit www.livehandsgolf.com.



 

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