Tuesday, April 1, 2003
Contrary to popular opinion, loose swings produce loose shots
The Elbow Tac-Tic training aid is a great learning tool, as it gives audio feedback when you excessively fold your arms in the backswing. With the Elbow Tac-Tic properly in place, make your normal backswing move. If your elbows lose their correct structure (above, left), the Tac-Tic will produce a clicking noise. Repeat your swing until you can properly hinge to the top without hearing the Tac-Tic “click.”
Here’s an easy drill to keep your upper body from becoming too loose. Place a small ball between your elbows at address, making your elbow width the same as the diameter of the ball. This width shouldn’t increase as you swing to the top. Therefore, as you execute your backswing, your elbows should hold the ball in place. If the ball drops, then your elbows split apart, introducing a slack element to your motion. It’s not impossible to hit good golf shots if your elbows don’t maintain their width, but it’s certainly a more complicated task. Nevertheless, maintaining proper elbow width is key to developing a tight, well-structured swing.
Now that you’ve tightened up your grip and arms, it’s time to get to the meat of the matter: tightening up what’s going to propel those hands, arms and club powerfully and efficiently through the golf ball.
If you analyze the swings of the world’s best golfers, you’ll discover a key trend: The hips are more open than the shoulders at the point of impact. This is a critical feature of quality swings, and one you should strive to create in your own. One way to build this fantastic move into your swing is to work on creating your very own upper body/lower body differential or, specifically, creating as large a differential as possible.
To do so, practice turning your shoulders in your backswing without turning your hips. Such a pivot creates a nice, tight backswing coil and tons of potential energy. Depending on your flexibility, you should be able to create a large “differential” between the amounts of upper body and lower body turn. If you can maintain your max differential to the top of the backswing and then maintain or increase that differential as you start the downswing all the way through impact, you’ll be primed for greatness. To do so, your lower body needs to initiate and lead your upper body in the downswing. In fact, your lower body should start moving targetward even before your clubhead reaches the top. This is a difficult move to master, but if you concentrate solely on creating and maintaining upper body/lower body differential from takeaway to impact, your ballstriking will improve dramatically.
For those golfers who regrip, bend the arms incorrectly and don’t pivot properly, you’ll never achieve good, consistent contact without tightening up your body and swing. However, the one thing you shouldn’t tighten is your mind! If you’re accustomed to hitting less-than-spectacular shots, it’s easy to become mentally tight. But if you tighten up your swing, you’ll gain consistency and be able to control the flight of your golf ball. Once that’s accomplished, your mind can and will relax!
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, La.
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