Learn Like A Pro

So you can play like one

This Article Features Photo Zoom

stay on plane...

The first step in improving Paige's golf swing was to correct the initial takeaway. I placed an orange rod slightly inside her target line and on the same angle as her shaft plane at address. If Paige takes the club away too far to the inside, she'll strike the rod. After many practice sessions with this training aid, Paige learned the correct feel necessary to take the club back on plane. This not only fixed her takeaway, but also made it possible to keep the shaft on plane at the top of the backswing. From here, which is perfect by the way, there's no reroute necessary during the downswing, resulting in more consistency.

My tendency is to get fast and long in my golf swing, especially when I'm playing well, or when I'm nervous. My swing thought when I get under pressure is to take it back slow and only 3⁄4 of the way. If I'm really nervous, I chew gum to help stay relaxed.

get stationed...

Once Paige mastered her impact zone and started swinging on the correct swing plane, it was important for her to aim properly and play the ball in the correct position. This three-club hitting station allowed her to do that very thing.

Aim: The target line is an imaginary line from the ball to the target. The only thing that sits on our target line is the clubhead with the face ideally pointed at the target. The body— more specifically the feet, knees, hips, arms, shoulders and eyes—should sit to the inside of and parallel to this target line. By setting this three-club hitting station down correctly and addressing the station correctly, you'll be properly aimed to the target.

Ball position: Once Paige corrected her swing plane and created better impact conditions, she was ready to master the correct ball positions. As I stated earlier, the low point of the golf swing should be roughly four inches left of center. Every club in our bag except our driver should be struck as the clubhead is moving down. You should play your short irons (wedges, 9-iron, 8-iron) in the center. Play one ball left of center with the 7-, 6- or 5-iron. Play two balls left of center with long irons, hybrids and fairway woods; and finally play three balls left of center with the driver. Again, positioning the driver this far forward makes it possible to strike the ball on a slightly ascending blow. Notice that Paige has both feet at an equal distance from the perpendicular club. This guarantees the correct ball position for the club in hand.

Swing: The beauty of a hitting station is that you can actually hit golf balls from inside it and monitor your progress. With iron and wedge shots, Paige can check to make sure she's playing the ball in the correct position (just before the swing bottoms out) and also work on improving her alignment at the same time.

When I practice, I try to change targets and change shots so I never feel stuck and I always stay focused.

swing like a pro...

There's no doubt golf is a hard game. If there are errors in your golf swing, you won't reach the level of consistency you desire, even if you happen to play at the highest level, as Paige does. Evidence shows these changes have made Paige a better overall ballstriker, allowing her to reduce her scoring average over the past three seasons. In the sequence below, you can see how fluid and effortless her swing looks. But don't be fooled. There's a lot of power and precision behind it that comes primarily from her ability to hinge the club properly. If you look at the middle row of photos in particular, check out how well she holds the hinge in her wrists from the top of her swing all the way down to just before impact. That's real power, folks. Also, her excellent body turn through the shot is what allows her to make such a long extension of the arms through the hit. This too is an awesome position to try to emulate.

Paige MacKenzie's Tools Of The Trade:
what's in her bag?

Cleveland 310 TL driver Cleveland 588 wedge (52°, 58°)
Nike Dymo fairway wood (15°) Never Compromise Gambler Series mallet
Nike SQ hybrid (19°, 21°) Srixon Z-Star golf ball
Cleveland CG7 irons (4-PW)

John Stahlschmidt, PGA, is the head instructor at the TOUR Academy located at the TPC Scottsdale in Arizona. For more information, and to book a lesson, visit touracademy.com.


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