Saturday, May 1, 2004
Simple tips and drills for finding the fairway more often
Turn On The Power
Most golfers who have the dreaded steep swing and outside-in swing path tend to take the club back much too quickly on the backswing. They rush it and, in doing so, find themselves trying to pick up the club without turning the body. When that occurs, so do a lot of other bad things. One way to alleviate this tendency is to begin the backswing in a slow, smooth motion. Practice your backswing as slowly as you can while still being able to hit the ball. As you turn back slowly, you’ll find yourself getting your bigger muscles involved. Remember, the fastest part of the swing is directly after contact; as you take a longer, slower backswing, you’re building more power.
Hip To Be Square
Every golf swing, no matter how good or bad, culminates at what we all refer to as the moment of impact. Numerous factors go into good driving, such as the correct swing angle, swing path, club speed, etc. Among the most important variables of the moment of impact is the face angle of the clubhead. The science actually is quite simple. An open clubface generates clockwise sidespin, sending your ball right, and a closed face produces the opposite spin to the left. Now, it’s critical to understand that with a square clubface at impact, it’s still possible to impart sidespin on the ball.
To illustrate, imagine a slightly inside-out golf swing with a perfectly square clubface at impact. Because the club is traveling from a slightly inside-out path, the ball is going to have a slight right-to-left sidespin, which in the air resembles a gentle draw to the left. That, my friends, is the ideal swing path. It’s been proven time after time that draws fly farther and roll longer than fades and slices. Also, because we swing with a rotary motion at an angle, it’s extremely difficult to repeat a swing that moves directly back and forward through the ball every time. An inside-out swing path is much easier to repeat, which is why it’s the ideal swing path for so many golfers. If you can connect the inside-out path with a square clubface, you’ll be on your way to longer drives and a lot more roll than that high, floating slice that almost appears to roll backward once it hits the ground.
To work on getting the clubface square at impact, think of only your left hand at impact. With a correct grip, the back of your left hand should be facing the target, your left wrist unhinged and not bent at the moment of truth. To practice this position, take a normal backswing, but atop your backswing, release your right hand and finish the practice swing with only your left hand, making sure your hand and clubface are square at the moment of impact. Not only will this give you more of a pulling-through sensation, but it also will encourage the proper left-hand position.
Path: Follow The Correct Line
The most ideal swing path for the driver is a shallow, level arc that originates slightly from the inside of the target line and finishes just slightly outside of the target line. As mentioned, golf is a series of chain reactions, so if you take the club back steep and off-path, you’re most likely going to finish steep and off-path on the downswing. One way to practice attaining the correct path and angle is to take a golf shaft with no clubhead and slide a swim noodle over the shaft. Stick the shaft in the ground (see above) and aim it in the direction of the target with enough room for the clubhead to travel under the shaft without touching. Practice making a few golf swings in this manner and it will force you to start swinging from the inside out. If you do slip and go outside-in during the swing, you’ll hit the noodle.
Try these drills, pay attention to your setup, and in a few short practice sessions, you’ll be on your way to straighter drives.
PGA professional and Senior Instruction Editor Chuck Winstead is the director of instruction at the University Club in Baton Rouge, La., and English Turn Golf & Country Club in New Orleans.
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