The Fire DrillLet’s assume you get the club to the top of the backswing, positioned somewhere above the right shoulder. You feel on balance, the swing is on-plane, but you still manage to either slice the ball or push it to the right to some degree. Frustrating as all hell, isn’t it?
Now is the time to remember the Fire Drill, like the one we all learned in school. “Drop and roll,” the teacher would tell us to do if we thought we were on fire. This also applies to the golf swing.
Most amateurs try to help the club toward the ball by pulling on it from the top of the swing. They are, in effect, trying to help gravity—one of the greatest forces in the world. Mother Nature doesn’t need your help. She’ll get it done—if you don’t pull on the club.
When you’re at the top of the backswing in good balance, you literally let (key word even if it’s small) your arms drop through space as you turn your hips left and get your weight onto your left heel at the completion of what’s a lateral turn. Your arm and the club will be delivered to the ball by Mother Nature. Gravity is a law (not a theory) of nature, meaning it works every time. You need to trust it and that takes practice and patience.
Now, the slicing/pushing part: If your arms aren’t totally relaxed from the top, you’ll either tighten your grip near impact or steer the club through impact, thereby holding the clubface open to some degree. You might as well look directly to the right because that’s where the ball is headed due to the tension you introduced on the downswing.
Relaxed arms drop and roll as they approach impact. The gravity drop delivers the club and the natural forearm roll squares the clubface in time. Notice I said “natural” roll, not a roll you create. Tight arms won’t do it. Relaxed arms will naturally and easily drop and roll.
Joe Buttitta is a Class A PGA professional at Westlake Golf Course in Southern California.