Players like Charles Howell III, Rory Sabbatini, Jonathan Byrd, even the budding superstar Anthony Kim, all have something in common. Besides obviously being PGA Tour players, they're all relatively small guys in both size and stature who manage to hit the ball with tremendous power. How do they do it? Each of these players, as well as a handful of other professionals, understands that true power and control come from swinging the golf club with a powerful core.
To actively engage the body's core (the lower chest through the lower abdomen and back) in the golf swing, here's a simple drill. First, address the ball as you would with a golf club, only this time cross your arms across your chest. Second, simulate a backswing with your arms crossed. The key is to maintain the forward spine tilt and keep your back straight. At the top of your swing, your left shoulder (right for southpaws) will appear behind the ball. Now, drive that shoulder forward toward the target so that your left shoulder covers the ball and the right shoulder follows suit. Let your head turn with your body (keeping your head down for better shots is a myth) and rotate fully through the finish—as far as you can go while staying in balance.
This drill will help you get a feel for what a body-driven swing feels like. Come time to hit actual shots, remember this drill and allow the arms and hands to function as a unit of the body and not as sources of power. To take it further, consider incorporating some free weights into your routine. Hold a round weight against your chest as you do this drill. Not only will you groove a nice move, but you'll also build strength and muscles in the process. And by the way, when you see players like Camilo Villegas and Tiger Woods, who both have bulging biceps, remember that their strong arms are a by-product of an even stronger core.
Frank O'Connell, PGA, teaches at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club near Scottsdale, Ariz. For more information, log on to www.wekopa.com.