Welcome to Play Smart, a game-improvement column that drops every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Director of Game Improvement content Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.
Golfers seem to have a soft spot for so-called “homegrown” golf swings, untainted by the kind of burdensome swing thoughts that the rest of us know all too well.
Except the truth is, even the homegrown swings get worked on. Get tweaked. Get changed. Things get off and move around. For a player that’s been left to figure out the golf swing for themselves — and done it so well that they’ve ended up on the PGA Tour — the solutions they arrive at are often the most useful of them all.
Why? Because they’re dead-set on solving the essential, central problem in golf: Making the ball fly straight.
When it comes to homegrown swings that make the ball fly straight, you can’t do much better than Jim Furyk. The former U.S. Open champ has been one of the most accurate players in golf history, all with a golf swing that’s the furthest thing from “textbook.”
But even for Furyk, things get off. But over the course of his career, he’s figured out a simple way of getting them back on track.
As Furyk explains in the old Golf Channel video at the bottom of the page, when things get off he places two rulers down onto the ground.
The first (the ruler closer to his toes) is for alignment. He wants to make sure it’s parallel to his target line.
“That helps me take one variable out,” he says.
The second ruler is closer to the ball, and it’s pointing directly at his target.
“That helps me figure some stuff out,” Furyk says.
Understanding the 9 laws
Once Furyk is all set up in his troubleshooting drill, he makes sure his feet are aligned correctly and hits balls, paying attention only to what the ball is doing.
If the ball starts to the right of the second ruler, Furyk says he knows he’s swinging too much from in-to-out.
If it starts to the left, he knows he’s coming over-the-top. If the ball curves to the right, his face is open; if it does the opposite and curves to the left, he knows the face is closed.
It comes back to the nine laws of ball flight that every golfer — homegrown or not — should have a good handle on.
As that happens, Furyk is simply trying to feel his way back to a straighter ball flight. He doesn’t care how his swing looks, he cares about how the ball looks. The ruler helps give him a baseline, the rest is finding a feel that works for him. Try it yourself, and you’ll find one that works for you, too.
Watch the full clip below: