No less an authority than Jack Nicklaus, as well as my teaching mentors Mike Austin and Dan Shauger, all believed that if the first move in the downswing was to move the weight into the lead foot it is absolutely impossible to release the club too soon. But it’s how we move to the lead foot that is critically important to the swing plane — and will have a major bearing on where the golf ball ends up.
Think of yourself as baseball hitter in the righthander’s batter box. (You lefties pretend that you’re either Ted Williams or Ichiro.) This subtle bump of the left hip (4-5 inches) must go toward the pitcher. When this happens the hands move down from the top and the clubhead approaches the ball on the proper path, which is slightly from inside the target line to square at impact and then back to the inside (Photo 1).
If the hip moves toward the shortstop (or even worse, the third baseman) the hands move out toward the target line and we end up with the classic over-the-top, out-side-in path (Photo 2).
When the hip heads toward the second baseman (first baseman even more extreme) the club gets stuck behind us. We’ll hit blocks, thins, flip hooks and the occasional fats. Oh, and maybe a drop kick or two with the driver which are always stunningly ineffective. It’s a slightly too-inside move, but it matters.
While we’re making that slight hip bump, our arms and hands are soft and relaxed and we’re firing all cylinders. We’re not holding on to any angle. We’re swinging the arms with as much speed as we can muster. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how far and how straight that small dimpled sphere goes.
John Marshall is a two-time American Long Drivers Association super senior national champion and five-time RE/MAX World Long Drive finalist.