'Club-up' for more birdie looks and fewer bunker shots
If your buddies tease you for having a quirky, less-than-textbook backswing, Ray Floyd should be your hero. Ray's a great friend of mine and one of the game's icons, but that swing! "Unusual" is the nicest way to describe it. Yet you never wanted to see it in your rearview mirror. Ray's closing 66 at Shinnecock to win the 1986 U.S. Open, his fourth and final major, tells you how effective it was.
If you're like most players, you strive for a one-piece takeaway, so that when the clubhead and your hands are halfway back, they're parallel with your toe line. That wasn't Ray's way. As you may recall, Floyd's waggle was as pronounced as Jason Dufner's. Next, he'd start his backswing by bowing his left wrist, then whip the club way inside. Because he didn't correct this inside move on the way up, the club pointed almost directly behind him at the top of his backswing. You'd swear he was going to hook it 40 yards left!
I see Ray's backswing in a lot of the ameteurs I tee it up with. Unlike everyday players, Floyd knew how to adjust for his laid-off move. As soon as he started down, he reversed the hinge in his left wrist (picture how you'd shoo a fly using the back of your left hand), so that by the time he reached impact, the clubface was back to square. It's a dangerous move, because it adds loft to the clubface, which can lead to pop-ups. Yet Ray produced piercing irons and tee shots by swinging this way. How? He swung straight down the line after impact, "chasing" the ball toward the target and exerting maximum force on the ball. And he chased hard, getting his chest in front of his hips in his follow-through, as though he were running after a dog that had snatched his morning paper.
If you whip the club inside on the way back, fear not. Copy Ray's reverse-wrist curl on the way down and chase through impact, and you'll make solid contact. And if you're prone to hitting the ball too high, try to get your chest in front of your hips in your follow-through, like Floyd used to. It's an ingenious way to shift your weight forward through the hitting zone -- the secret to ball-first contact and a penetrating ball flight.