Hit home runs with more turn
Question: I need power quick!
—Tim C., Worcester, Mass.
Answer: You have several options here, including swinging faster, adding length to your driver shaft and joining a gym. But let’s face it—if you swing faster you’ll never find the fairway, a longer shaft will make consistent contact a thing of the past, and, well, if you really wanted to go to a gym you’d already be doing so.
Instant power can be yours if you make the same swing but with a bigger backswing shoulder turn. Most golfers stop their shoulder turn far too early, and this robs them of crucial MPHs of clubhead speed. How far should you turn? Below is a great image.
Set up in your golf posture, and imagine you’re standing at home plate facing a powerhouse fastball pitcher. He lets the ball go, and it heads toward your right shoulder. What does a professional batter do in this situation? That’s right, he quickly spins his left shoulder away from the pitcher to get out of the way of the pitch. As he does, his right shoulder moves behind him so that his back faces the pitcher’s mound. It’s a strong, full and level turn of the shouders. Copy this move on the tee and you’ll quickly add plenty of extra yards to your drives.
—BRUCE HAMILTON, Spanish Hills Country Club, Camarillo, Calif.
The hills have eyes
Question: When the ball is above my feet, I know I’m supposed to aim right because the slope will naturally make the ball draw. Problem is, I always hit the ball straight from this lie, and end up 20 yards right ofmy target. Help!
—Tim J., Knoxville, Tenn.
Answer: It’s likely that you’re overcompensating for the slope and aiming everything too far to the right. To play this shot, aim your body right of the target, but aim your clubface at the target. This combination produces a slightly closed clubface. From the top, swing your club along your toe line (to the right of your target) and the ball should draw like it’s supposed to. Remember, when the ball is above your feet, aim your body right and your clubface at the target.
—NANCY QUARCELINO, King’s Creek GC, Spring Hill, Tenn.
Don’t get cross
Question: People tell me that my swing is “across the line.” What does this mean?
—Gene L., via e-mail
Answer: When you’re “across the line” your shaft points to the right of your target at the top of your swing. It should point left of your target (but parallel to your target line). It’s likely that you lift your arms too vertically during your backswing, or allow your right elbow to fly so it points behind you instead of toward the ground. If you cup your left wrist at the top, the problem is exacerbated. Experienced players can get away with this error because they know how to reroute the shaft so it gets back on plane on the downswing. Most golfers aren’t blessed with this kind of skill and timing, so try to swing your club back with less raising of your arms and more shoulder turn. At the same time, fold your right elbow so it points down and keep your left wrist flat as you bring the club to the top. You’ll be in better position to come back to the ball with your club on the correct plane.
—TODD SONES, White Deer Run GC, Vernon Hills, Ill.
Fix bad footwork
Question: On my downswing I actually lift my left foot and re-plant it at impact. Why am I doing this and how do I stop?
—Allen G., Evanston, Ill.
Answer: If you aren’t as flexible as you once were and you need to lift and plant your foot to shift your weight forward on the downswing, then you’re in need of a stretching program. If you’re physically sound, then it’s your mechanics that need work. Basically, you must retrain your feet.
Start by swinging your club at 20 percent speed. Focus on your hip turn and the shift of weight from your back hip to your front hip on your downswing. At this speed, you should be able to make decent swings without having to lift your foot. Once your foot starts behaving, ramp up the speed to 50 percent. Don’t swing any faster until you can make a balanced move and shift your weight forward on your downswing without lifting your front foot.
Repeating correct swings in slow motion will build muscle memory. That’s ultimately what you need to erase the lift-and-plant move from your swing.
—SCOTT SACKETT, PGA Tour Golf Academy, St. Augustine, Fla.