It’s the moment of truth: The split second when clubface meets ball. When you come right down to it, nothing else in golf matters. That’s why consistent, accurate ballstriking is what every golfer strives for, why it’s the only way to get better through the bag and lower your scores.
There are, of course, many ways to improve your ballstriking, but physics being what it is, to achieve consistent and crisp contact, you have to keep the golf club moving on a consistent plane, which means keep your posture intact through the swing, from shoulders to torso to hips. The three tips that follow from 2016 Southern California PGA Teacher of the Year, Alison Curdt — with a couple of training aids worked in — will help you do just that.
WEIGHT YOUR POSTURE TO IMPROVE IT
Moving the torso up and down throughout the swing causes the golf to have inconsistent strike patterns at impact. As some players rotate back incorrect positioning of the arms can cause the torso to rise up during the backswing, as I’m demonstrating in Photo 1. This makes it difficult to position the torso back into the starting position to allow the club to bottom out in the correct spot.
Utilize a weighted vest to help the torso stay in position, as I’m doing here in Photo 2. Strap the weighted vest on and take some practice swing with a short iron (Photo 3). The weight of the vest will make it harder to stand up vertically in the backswing and will allow the golfer to rotate correctly and stay in posture. The weighted vest will also encourage the golfer to stay in the correct spine angle at impact since there will be less movement vertically.
The use of the weighted vest gives the golfer a different physical sensation to keep the core bent over at the correct angle throughout the backswing and the forward swing. Keeping the angle of the torso constant in the backswing and forward allows the golfer to repeatedly bottom out the clubhead in the perfect position for solid contact.
TRAIN YOUR TRAIL SHOULDER
This tip trains the right shoulder to move down and through the hitting zone instead of out and arm to eliminate and out-to-in path causing the dreaded slice
Enter set up position. Take the lead hand and extend it away from body and hold club like a cane into ground (Photo 4). Use the trail arm to practice tossing balls out to “right field” through the gap that is created by the lead arm and golf club, as I’m doing in Photos 5-11. If you throw the ball to the left instead, as in Photo 12, you know your club path is too steep and out-to-in.
This simple drill trains the golfer to move the trail shoulder on the correct path to improve the path of the golf club.
TILT DOWN FOR BETTER CONTACT
It’s crucial to keep the proper shoulder tilt in the backswing to maintain posture. Many players become too flat in their shoulder tilt. This tip demonstrates the proper tilt for improved contact.
Use an alignment rod or a golf club across the shoulders as a guide for amount of shoulder tilt, as in Photo 13. Place a club or alignment rod on ground where ball would be. Rotate shoulders back and point the alignment rod from shoulder slightly outside of target line (Photo 14). Posture will remain at same angle and the lead shoulder will feel as though it rotates underneath the chin.
Put this drill into your regular practice routine and you’ll find that you’ll get more solid contact at impact and keeps the path of the club from getting too flat, as in Photo 15. The ultimate result? Fewer topped or thin shots, the proper descending strike with your irons and that beautiful, shallow divot in front of where the ball was.
Now that’s what we call good ballstriking!
Alison Curdt is a PGA and LPGA Master Professional and 2015 LPGA National Teacher of the Year based in Southern California. She’s also a featured instructor on the Golf Channel. Contact her at www.alisoncurdtgolf.com