Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The dream situation for any teacher is an athletic student with a power leak. Usually, these types of golfers have the ability and skill to quickly plug the holes where the power and swing speed is seeping out -- all they need is the right information.
Take for an example a recent student of mine. Like most recreational players, his grip was too weak (Vs between the thumbs and forefingers pointed to the left shoulder), and he lifted his arms during his backswing instead of turning his shoulders. As a result, his swing was steep and from the outside-in (slicers take note). These power leaks alone were sapping 40 yards from his average drive. His inability to separate his lower body form his upper body during his downswing were costing him another 60.
That's 100 yards of lost distance. Sound familiar? If so, take heart in his near-immediate turnaround.
First step: strengthening his grip (Vs pointed to the right shoulder). Easy. I then showed him how to turn away from the ball without lifting his arms over his head. He felt like he was making a huge and flat backswing turn. In reality, his swing was on plane and the club was approaching the ball from the right direction and with the clubface square. In a short time, he picked up 40 yards.
I then moved into helping him create more downswing clubhead speed. I did this by asking him to pull and turn hard with his left hip, trying to get his left hip pocket behind him. This type of move creates separation and the early speed needed to generate maximum force at impact. The downswing sequence of events has to be hips, shoulders, arms and then the clubhead. If one of these elements gets out of sequence, then power and consistency are lost.
When you practice this move, feel like your arms are slowing down as they approach the ball. This allows the energy in your swing to move from your arms to the clubhead and eventually into the back of the ball. If you do it correctly, you'll hear a "swish" sound at the bottom of your swing.
In a short time the student was hitting the ball squarely and with much more clubhead speed. He picked up the remaining 60 yards. It was a blast watching the ball sail powerfully down the range when only a short time before it fluttered softly to the ground at just past the 150 marker.
Remember, if you want to create maximum clubhead speed, start your downswing from below your belly button. Make a strong weight shift and turn to start your move back to the ball. Without this strong pull and turn, your swing will not have the energy needed to snap forcefully at the bottom.
Now, about that chipping... Roger instructs at Tierra Rejada G.C. in Moorpark, Calif.

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