During the last 100 years, the game's best players have exhibited a few similarities, which most golfers aren't aware of. Here at Medicus Golf, we came to this conclusion by spending countless hours studying hundreds of the game's greatest golfers. Looking at these players allowed us to identify a small and distinct set of commonalities that we call the 5 Simple Keys.
The keys are not only measurable, but also achievable by all golfers if they understand the fundamental movements and details behind each. These 5 Simple Keys are: #1) Steady Head, #2) Weight Forward, #3) Flat Left Wrist, #4) Diagonal Sweet Spot Path and #5) Clubface Control.
KEY #1 STEADY HEAD
Using Advanced Motion Measurement (AMM) data, we've learned that the average PGA Tour player moves his head only one inch during the swing. This is important because when your head is relatively steady, you can see the ball without relying on your peripheral vision, making hitting the ball solidly that much easier!
To keep your head relatively steady, stretch your right side (for a right-handed golfer) from your ankle to your armpit, removing the wrinkles from your pants and shirt and forming a line up the side of your body. Simultaneously, move your left shoulder downward as it rotates away from the target. These movements allow the shoulders to turn 90_¡ to the address spine angle and complete a centered shoulder turn. The steady head provides a reference point for this centered turn and sets the foundation for the remaining keys.
Let It Dip The first key is mostly about side-to-side motion of the head. It's perfectly acceptable for the head to dip down some during the downswing. As you can see from the photo, Chuck's head has moved downward from the top of his backswing. This happens because his body is compressing as he prepares to explode into the golf ball. This move is also shared by the game's best players, particularly the longer hitters.
KEY #1WEIGHT FORWARD Let Your Weight Move Forward The average PGA Tour player arrives at impact with 80-95% of his or her weight on the forward leg. The average amateur gets only 55% of his or her weight forward at impact! The movement of the hips toward the target with the weight progressing forward is one of the most noticeable differences between the best and worst players. That weight has got to move!
To train the proper hip movement, take a training stick and put it in the ground about the width of your hand away from your left thigh. That's about as far as your hips will need to move during the downswing. Practice bumping into the stick by maintaining the flex in your left knee as you move your hips forward.
NO Does this picture look like something you see on the local practice range? It's way too common, and though Chuck may have rotated his hips and shoulders, he has done so with his weight on his right side. He has virtually no chance of hitting a solid shot! Ouch! Just looking at this hurts. Preset Impact DrillA great drill to properly train the feel of Key #2, Weight Forward, is to pre-set your impact position before making a golf swing. Here's how:
1) Set up over the ball as you normally would (not shown). 2) Move your left knee and hip toward the target and open them slightly. Let your hands shift toward your left thigh as you do this. You'll feel more weight on your forward leg. 3) Make a one-half to three-quarter backswing, leaving your left knee and hip forward. 4) From there, bump the hips even farther forward, hit the ball and swing to an abbreviated finish. Doing this drill properly will set you on the path to achieving Tour-quality impact. If you're still hitting shots fat and thin, check out Key #3.
KEY #3 FLAT LEFT WRIST
Stop The Flip Everyone knows there are no flippers on the PGA Tour. It's an entirely different story at your local practice range! PGA Tour players are really good at achieving Keys #1 and #2, which makes achieving Key #3, Flat Left Wrist, that much easier.
A flat left wrist keeps the shaft of the club from passing the left arm prior to impact. When the shaft passes the left arm prematurely, it's commonly called a "flip," and this move virtually assures lots of fat and skulled shots. To learn what a flat left wrist feels like, try the drill Chuck demonstrates in the YES photo on the right. Take a training stick and put it in the grip of your club so that a foot or so sticks out. Practice hitting the ball first, then the ground, without letting the stick hit you in your midsection.
KEY #4 DIAGONAL SWEET SPOT PATH
While the first three keys are built to ensure a pure, compressed strike on the golf ball, the last two get down to brass tacks in terms of controlling the flight. Because your golf clubs are bent at an angle and golf is played from the side, you don't swing the golf club on a perfectly horizontal plane (along the floor) or vertical plane (up and down a wall), but rather, you swing it on a tilted plane (along the roof of a house).Swing from inside out, as you can see by Chuck's position here.
Though this key matters most during the downswing, a backswing that follows the tilted plane back, up and in, as if you're swinging your hands and the sweet spot from the gutter to the peak of a roof, will put you in a better position to make a solid downswing.
A good backswing puts you in the position to deliver the clubhead from the inside. The sweet spot will travel diagonally forward, down and out toward the golf ball. To practice this, we like to use a training aid called the Medicus Vision Track (Chuck is using it in the photos).
This tool helps groove the inside-out diagonal sweet spot path. As you can see in the photos, the sweet spot travels from "in" (the left side of the frame) to "out" (the right side of the frame) throughout the entire downswing.
KEY #5 CLUBFACE CONTROL
Regardless of whether Chuck is hitting a draw or a fade, knowing and employing the proper ballflight laws will allow him to start the ball to the proper side of the target and curve it toward the flagstick. Given the proper diagonal sweet spot path, the final key is controlling the clubface at impact.
Control Your Clubface Available technology such as FlightScope and high-speed cameras have proven that the golf ball generally starts in the direction the clubface is pointing at impact and curves away from the path. In these three photos, let's assume Chuck has hit the golf ball with the same diagonal sweet spot path (traveling in to out). The swing seen above left would likely produce a shot that starts too straight and curves left of the target. The swing seen above right (with the face pointing right of the target at impact), will push the ball to the right and draw it back. The swing on the right likely produced a straight push in which the clubface and path matched.
When we teach our students, we use the terms "open" and "closed" face to refer to the clubface orientation relative to the path. If the face is open to the path, the ball will fade, and if it's closed, the ball will draw. A proper fade is hit with a clubface aiming left of the target at impact, and a proper draw with one aiming right of the target at impact.
Two shots are illustrated above. The top image shows the clubface matching the path and will result in a straight push. The lower image shows a face closed to the path, resulting in a draw.
Both of these shots can be perfectly playable, depending on the target. That's the beauty of clubface control! Knowing the true ballflight laws and how to achieve them is the last key to great scoring and incredible golf!
Chuck Evans is the Executive Director of Instruction for Medicus Golf, a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and a Golf Digest Top Teacher, and is based at Gold Canyon Golf Resort in Gold Canyon, Ariz.
David Wedzik is the owner of Golf Evolution in Erie, Penn., and the Director of Instruction for Medicus Golf. He's also a former player on the Nationwide Tour.