Amen Corner: There’s No Need to Haggle — Sometimes It’s Good to Waggle

  • Try a waggle to get a better feel for the club for any shot you want to try.<br/>Courtesy photograph

    Try a waggle to get a better feel for the club for any shot you want to try.
    Courtesy photograph

  • Try a waggle to get a better feel for the club for any shot you want to try.<br/>Courtesy photograph
Peter Harris

Peter Harris

What the heck is the waggle all about?

Back in the day, most of the world’s best golfers had a waggle in their pre-shot routine. Today, you don’t see the young guns waggle as much. Why?

First, what is a waggle? A waggle is when a golfer addresses the golf ball before making mini-check swing with the hands and club prior to starting the full swing. It basically gets you into the shot mentally and eliminates distractions.

Tom Watson has a nice waggle. Jack Nicklaus actually waggled with his feet. However it’s done, it looks like a dance, but what are they really doing?

In golf, the waggle communicates what you are trying to do to prepare yourself to hit a good shot. It can soften your hands and can eliminate overall tension. It’s basically a rehearsal and should be used to practice what you’re hoping to deliver or hoping to feel in order to hit the shot you want.

There are several common purposes of a waggle. Your waggle just needs a purpose.

A waggle may be useful to work on the swing plane of the golf club. If you yank the club too much inside on the backswing, a waggle can help you practice keeping it on plane. Jason Dufner, PGA Tour player and winner of the PGA Championship, waggles like this.

A waggle may also help if you are working on the position of the club face during the takeaway. For example, if you take the club back closed with the face pointing at the ground, you may use a waggle to help you open the face and take it back more square. This is the style of waggle PGA Tour veteran and past Masters champion Mike Wier employs.

Also, a waggle can help you when you when you’re trying to hit a specialty shot. Let’s say, you’d like to hit a punch fade out of the trees. A waggle may help you feel how the lead wrist is held flat, well through impact, delaying the release of the golf club. Or if you’re trying to hook the ball, a waggle can help you feel a faster release.

A waggle can even help you feel the basic fundamental of a slight wrist hinge at the transition to maintaining a flat left wrist through impact. Ben Hogan, the famed nine-time major champion, is an example.

All in all, a waggle is best designed to eliminate any tension, soften your hands and mentally put your mind into the shot.

Is a waggle a good thing for you? It’s really a personal thing. Try it yourself and if it helps, stick with it.

And if it hinders, no need to waggle.

Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon.