Golf: Correct stance fixes the shank

For a golf instructor teaching the skills comes easy.

But what is difficult is knowing what the student golfer is thinking.

Golf guru Garry Doolan could not figure out what Melvin Singh was thinking every time he shanked the ball at the Champions Golf driving range last Friday.

The New Paper's deputy editor described his predicament as a mental block.

"When I hit the ball, it's more about me not wanting to miss or catch it thin, than wanting to hit it," Melvin (left) said.

As a result, Melvin, who picked up the sport seven years ago, stood far too close to the ball and tucked his left arm behind the body on the follow through.

"He has no extension on his swing," Doolan said.

"A golfer has to feel his arms going wide, away from his body. This is also why Melvin sometimes hits the ball left."

In his third session with instructor Doolan, a former Australian PGA professional, Melvin seemed to have forgotten the previous lessons.

Old habits began to reappear and his swing got further complicated when Doolan noticed how he tilted his head just before striking the ball.

The tilt was because Melvin needed his "sharper" left eye to take aim at the ball.

"It causes him to lose his spine angle.

That's why he hits it thin," explained Doolan.

For the first time in years, Melvin, using an eight-iron, hit three shanks in a row at the range.

Doolan had seen enough.

After video-recording Melvin's faulty swing and showing it to him, Doolan detailed three rules of the golfer's stance and set-up.

Stand further back from the ball, align the ball more to the toe of the club, and keep your weight on your heels.

For the arm extension, the tip was to take the right hand off the club on the follow through, as the body turned.

Adhering to the instructions, Melvin marked a significant improvement on his swing.

Strangely enough, even when he reverted to his faulty set-up, the ball would still travel.

"Melvin's hand-eye coordination is very good, so he gets away with a bad swing sometimes," Doolan said.

"But that's golf. If you hit a good shot, who cares how you swing your club. "All his bad habits come from bad early training. It's something we never get out of."

Melvin agreed, and said that after the first lesson, it took him two weeks just to correct his grip.

So is the Melvin Singh project a failure? "No. It's just...ongoing," said Doolan as he witnessed Melvin shank another ball. "But if he continues at this rate, he might have to consider table tennis instead."

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