They may not know it, but several of the best golfers in the world are actually darn good instructors. They may not articulate their moves verbally, but in watching them play, there's a lot that we as wannabe-Tour pros can learn and pick up from their amazing abilities.
We chose a few Tour professionals to spotlight (you can learn something from literally everyone on the PGA Tour), and with the help of some of our popular instructors, we put together a few simple, easy-to-digest elements of their swings that you should incorporate into your golf game. And while no two players swing exactly the same (yes, even Adam Scott and Tiger Woods have differences), one thing holds true: Every one of these featured Tour pros can teach you something about becoming a better player. With the help of Rick Sessinghaus, PGA, as our model, get ready to turn your swing into one that's Tour-worthy. Read on!
STACK YOUR IMPACT POSITION TO THE LEFT Take a look at Boo Weekley and Vijay Singh at impact. I can't help but admire how well both pros compress the ball against the clubface and then hit the ground with their iron shots. They're rock-solid at impact and stacked over their left side.Boo Weekley Boo isn't just known for his down-home personality, but also an amazing ballstriking ability. No wonder he's averaging 3.71 birdies a round. Vijay Singh Already considered one of the best to ever play, Vijay also seems to never age. His languid swing has helped him play on the PGA Tour and stay competitive. In this simulated impact position, most of my weight is on my left leg, and my left arm and shaft are stacked over my left side. Try this in a mirror to get it right. Both players have their spine tilting away from the target. Use a club like this to check your spine tilt. Your left shoulder should be a little higher up.
Another key component to a solid impact position is the positioning of the body. Check out the spine, and note how it tilts away from the target. That helps them stay behind the ball. At the same time, at least 75 percent of their weight hovers over their left leg. This weight shift is vital in order to release the golf club at impact effectively.
Finally, look at the back of the left hand on both players. The glove logo is facing the target. This ensures a square clubface and a straight shot. –John Stahlschmidt, PGACamilo Villegas Camilo's aggressive swing has proven itself to be a winning one, as he already has notched 2 wins in 3+ years on the PGA Tour.
ADD WIDTH FOR MORE POWER At only 160 pounds, Camilo Villegas averages a whopping 291 yards off the tee, making him among the top 40 for drivers on Tour. He's often depicted as a muscular player, but in reality he's a small-framed guy with great definition. Now, are his muscles his power source? Nope. Villegas understands width and how it builds power. His strong muscles are a bonus.Grab a 2x4 and push it toward your target as far as you can while turning your body to the left and extending your arms. This will help you add a ton of width to your swing.
Check out how far he keeps his hands from his body in each photo. From a physics standpoint, by adding width, he's increasing his arc, which leads to a faster clubhead speed. Combine that with how nicely he winds his upper body and still allows his lower body to be stable, and you have a recipe for a smashing drive. He's wide, flexible and in perfect balance. If you can copy that, you'll be huge! –Jeff Ritter, PGA
J.B. Holmes Known for his huge distance, Holmes is also a powerful iron player, thanks to a solid forward lean and tremendous lag. See if you can copy this position here. Anthony Kim Forward lean doesn't mean rigid lean. Notice how Kim has some bend in his back (Holmes has some, too). It's better to have some bend than to be too stiff.
MAINTAIN THE FORWARD LEAN Two of the best players still in their 20s on the PGA Tour, J.B. Holmes and Anthony Kim understand completely what it means to maintain a forward-tilting spine angle through impact. Also, notice the separating of the hands from the body. By maintaining the forward upper-body lean, the arms/hands have more room to store lag and eventually release over the golf ball. If these angles are lost, it's because the spine is upright, which if it happens, will translate into poor consistency and lousy ground contact.
The last thing you can learn here is their head positions. They're facing the ball! Don't feel like you need to keep your head down or lift it too far up. Keep it facing the ball, and you'll rotate more effectively. –Derek Nannen, PGARory Sabbatini A winner already in '09, Sabbatini's short game has helped him win more than $20 million on Tour. His breakthrough win at a major is imminent.
HOLD THE FACE SQUARE TO THE TARGET One of the best ways to get your chips going in the right direction with a consistent spin and trajectory is to practice like Rory Sabbatini. Here, he's working on holding the clubface square through impact. Sabbatini does this by concentrating on rotating his body to slow down the release of his hands. This not only holds the face square longer, but it ensures the ball pops off the clubface in the direction of the target. It also adds more loft and spin, two things you want.The next time you practice your chipping, try a few shots using only your left hand on the club. Hit a few chips and concentrate on rotating the body and holding the clubface square at impact. As you can see, the hands should also stay ahead of the clubhead well through the shot.
Notice how Sabbatini does it. His form is a little unusual, but his shoulders really rotate through the shot. Most golfers would use their whole body to rotate since it's easier, but the effect is the same: To keep the clubface square, you have to rotate the body to make it happen. –Jeff Yurkiewicz, PGA
SWING DOWN AND TURN Many amateur players tend to make hitting hybrids more difficult than it actually needs to be. The reality is that hitting a hybrid effectively requires you first to acknowledge that a hybrid isn't a wood–meaning you don't need to feel like you ought to sweep or scoop the ball to get it up in the air. If anything, a hybrid should be played more like a middle iron, with a downward thrust into the ball.Parker McLaughlin isn't the only player on the PGA Tour using hybrids. Several players are adopting hybrids as both long iron and fairway wood alternatives. Hitting down on your hybrids is key. Practice this simple drill, and work on getting your right shoulder below your left at impact. This will help you hit down into the ball.
Check out Parker McLaughlin. He's hitting a hybrid club effectively by hitting down on the ball (as evident by the divot in the air) and also by making a full rotation. These are two swing thoughts every golfer should have when hitting a hybrid. Don't hit up or sweep. Hit down and make a divot after you make contact with the ball. –Karen Nannen, PGAMike Weir Pound for pound, Weir is a longer hitter than most think. His strength has a lot to do with a right leg that acts as a pillar for his body to rotate against and build torque.
POST UP YOUR FORWARD LEG Check out Mike Weir's tremendous ability to load and pivot against his right leg (which would be our left leg for righties). This sometimes is referred to as posting up the forward leg and building a strong pivot point to snap the club through at impact. If his forward leg were to buckle, slide or overstraighten, Weir will lose stability and, as a result, lose both a lot of distance and consistency.
Also notice how much Weir's hips have cleared through impact while still staying behind the ball. (He could hit a home run over the Green Monster at Fenway with this swing.) Practice bracing your forward leg so it's a strong lever to rotate your body around and release the club. Think of a home-run hitter knocking one out of the park –Rick Sessinghaus, PGA
Hunter Mahan Check out his finish. Mahan has made such a full rotation that his left foot has rolled onto its side like Nicklaus used to do–proof of a full rotation and a strong left side. Nick Watney Watney can crush it, averaging 306 yards per drive. His shoulders have turned past his hips, and his left side is in perfect alignment– the ideal finish pose.
FINISH STRONG WITH A FULL ROTATION If you watch any crime scene show on TV, you'll notice that most mysteries are solved by going backward from the end of the crime first. In the golf swing, a similar approach can be taken, first by looking at the finish. In these two photos, Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney show a lot of similarities, even though one player has hit an iron and the other a wood.To ingrain a solid turn through the hit, try this: Put your right hand in your pocket (thumb out), and while keeping your right elbow behind and close to your body, pull your pocket through to the finish.
Notice how both players finish solidly on a firm left side. This indicates they have fully turned and bumped their weight to their left side. Also, look at their shoulders. They're both facing left of the target, also indicating a full turn. Point is, the golf swing requires you to turn all the way through and not stop at the ball like many amateurs do. Practice your finish position, and use these two guys as models. You'll see better results. –Hank Gardner, PGA GT