Look at the end of your swing to find and fix hidden flaws
Hands In The Face Finish
Some golfers tend to finish with their hands in front of their face. The reason they wind up here is that theyre slowing down the rotation of their body and the club too early in the impact area. There are a few causes for this slowdown, with the primary one being a casting motion in the downswing combined with tense arms and hands. Players who rotate properly in a counterclockwise direction—all the way through the shot—will never finish in this position because their arms and the club pass their face area and continue into a full finish.
The best remedy here is to make practice swings while consciously trying to finish with a full turn and soft, relaxed arms. When you reach the desired finish position, with your arms bent and folded and the club resting on your back (below right), hold it (it should be easy if youre relaxed), and let the feeling ingrain itself. Then hit some balls and concentrate on attaining the same, rotated, relaxed finish.
Chest Right Finish
Basically, everything looks good but the chest—it faces to the right of the target. In a solid finish, the chest (along with your head and waist) should point directly at or even left of the target. With a right-facing chest, all signs indicate incomplete body rotation on the downswing. Its a flaw common to many recreational players, especially on short shots and knockdown plays. Regardless of the club in your hand and the distance you want the ball to travel, never stop your rotation. Every swing deserves a full finish, even from a short distance.
The main problem with incomplete body rotation on the downswing is that once the body stops, the hands and arms take over. Picture a rider on a horse approaching a fence. If the horse stops, what happens to the rider? Hes thrown forward. The same thing happens in the golf swing. The body stops and the hands sling through, usually creating nasty hooks. If youve ever hooked a pitching wedge, this is probably the culprit, especially if you were trying to hit a soft shot into the green.
A more appropriate finish would include the chest pointing to the left of the target. Of course, this shouldnt give any golfer the green light to simply rotate the chest violently from the top to get pointed left at the finish. Weve seen what this error can do with the flop finish. The key is to never allow upper-body rotation to slow down. In fact, the upper body should out-rotate the lower body at the finish until the chest faces left of the target.
Head Behind Finish
Golf Swing 101: When you finish, your head should be directly over your left (lead) leg. Golfers who fail to achieve this position generally fail to get their left side through impact. Its a common malady because its caused by a variety of errors.
Backswing Sway When you sway the upper or lower body to the right on the backswing, its almost impossible to get back to the left side at impact. Spinning From The Top If you begin your downswing by simply rotating the upper body, its likely youll fail to transfer weight to the front leg. Instead, youll hang back. Under-Tilting This error occurs when the lead shoulder raises and the rear shoulder dips on the downswing. When you swing too far under, the head is forced to stay back and causes the golfer to come up on his or her toes at impact. Expect a lot of thinned shots. Keeping The Head Still Easily the worst piece of advice ever handed from one golfer to another. In a proper swing, the head rotates with the body and comes up after impact. It never stays still. Reverse Pivot This flaw, which also can create the reverse-C finish, features weight positioned over the front leg at the top of the swing. If weight is on the left side at the top, itll be on the right leg at the finish, which leaves you with your head and body behind.
The head-behind finish indicates such a plethora of errors that theres no single drill to make a quick fix. If youre finishing with your head behind, or find yourself in any of the incorrect finish positions detailed in this story, I suggest performing your swing at 50% speed until you can end your swing correctly. Then, make a point of holding your finish for 10 seconds. Youll ingrain the sense of what a good finish feels like while also improving your balance, rhythm and tempo.
Dr. Jim Suttie is a former PGA Teacher of the Year and is recognized as one of the top 100 instructors in America. He teaches at The Estates at Twin Eagles in Naples, Fla., and at Cog Hill G&CC in Chicago. Special thanks to instruction model Brent Jensen.
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