This is an instructional editorial on how Chuck Jackson, Lead Singer of the Downchild Blues Band, and a naked Kim Basinger helped my golf game.
Twice a year at the International Golf and Blues Experience I have an opportunity to “play (and I use that term VERY lightly) golf” with the amazing lead singer of the Canadian iconic blues band, The Downchild Blues Band. While Chuck has won Vocalist of the Year multiple times about the only award that Chuck will win at any golf tournament that he would ever play at would probably fall into the category of “Most Honest Golfer.”
While Chuck would probably hit the ball farther using a harmonica then a driver, it was in fact Chuck Jackson who needs to take credit for fixing a recent flaw in my golf game. So this month’s instructional article goes out to Chuck as I would like to discuss the most over analyzed, over-hyped, over-taught, over-recommended, over-everything aspect of the golf swing there is, and that is tempo.
Whenever I see an article or book on tempo instruction, I often ask myself, why? That fact remains there is no one perfect tempo, nor should there be. Every player in the world, from the Tour player to the high handicapper, has a different tempo.
Tempo is the most individual aspect of the swing, and should never be altered. It is the glue that holds all of the pieces of your swing together. If you start applying super glue to where you originally had generic school glue, your swing will be thrown out of sync. This will definitely affect your mechanics, and poor shots will result. So the key, in terms of tempo, is keeping it natural, and keeping it consistent, no matter what pace it may be.
At a recent event that I was performing at, I got the great notion to start really letting loose with my driver and try and hit the ball into another stratosphere. With trying to swing out of my shoes it completely altered the speed in which I took the golf club back as well as the transition of the golf club from the backswing to the downswing. What resulted was an erratic shot pattern of hard slices to snap hooks… My swing was lost!!!
Now ladies and gentleman here is where Chuck helped my golf game. One of my favorite songs that Chuck performs is a cover of “You Can Leave Your Hat On” which was written by Randy Newman and was made famous by Joe Cocker when featured in the film 9½ Weeks during the striptease scene. You all know when you get a certain song in your head and just cannot get rid of it…well this is one time that I was ecstatic. The rhythmic beat of “You Can Leave Your Hat On” just so happens to be Todd Keirstead’s golf swing tempo. I used the tempo of the horns in that song to start developing when I take the club back, the transition for the back and forward motion to the perfect balanced finish position.
Some golf professionals use an electronic metronome to find their perfect rhythm others use waltz music to listen to in their earphones, all that I have to do is visual Kim Basinger smeared in jelly. Not a bad visual!!!
So here is something that you too can work on to find your personal tempo and a great way to get it back when it goes. Needed is a CD player, a CD of Johann Strauss, a golf club and ear plugs
I have found this exercise to be the most effective way to teach tempo control to my students. These are exercises you can do in your backyard if you desire privacy. Set up the CD player so you can hear it and easily control it but not hit it with your club. I suggest a waltz by Johann Strauss as his music had a pronounced rhythm. Turn on the waltz music and assume your stance with club in hand.
Take a deep breath. While in your stance, allow the tempo of the music to start to sink in. Try to synchronize your breathing to the upbeats and the downbeats of the music. Once you feel that you have the tempo of the music, begin to slowly swing the club to that tempo. Do this for several minutes until you are swinging in perfect synchronization with the music and your breathing.
After a few minutes of swinging the club with the music, turn the music off and put in your ear plugs. You will notice that you can hear yourself breathing easier while wearing ear plugs. You may need to exaggerate your breathing in order to hear it, but be careful to maintain a steady breathing pace that keeps up with the pace set earlier by the music. While in your stance, allow yourself time to feel the rhythm of your breathing and then begin swinging the club to your breathing pace. The one-two-three motion that you had with the music should be easy to replicate with your breathing.
Swing with the ear plugs in, using your breathing as a tempo meter, for at least ten minutes. Some people find it helpful to continuously swing the club in tempo with their breathing. After 10 minutes, take out the ear plugs and place a practice ball in front of you. Focus on your breathing and follow the tempo of your breathing to hit the ball. Continue hitting balls while maintaining the tempo.
Practice this for at least 30 minutes and you will soon find yourself able to maintain a tempo with your breathing without needing the music. Always listen to your breathing and you will always be able to control your tempo.
So thank you Chuck Jackson and Kim Basinger for helping me not only find my golf rhythm and tempo but also for the great on course visualization.