Control Your Turn

January 12, 2008


You feel like you need a big tee shot so you swing your driver back as far as you can go, and then turn a little more. Problem is, even after making this megaturn, your drive still goes the normal distance. What’s the deal? After all, the more you turn, the farther you should hit the ball, right? Wrong.


The players on Tour make big, powerful backswing turns and get their right shoulders behind their necks because, well, they can. They are professional athletes, and train as hard as your favorite MLBer to remain strong yet flexible. They coil as much as their bodies allow. For most of them, that means huge backswings.


Most of you reading this are probably not in the best shape of your life, so when you try to make a huge backswing, you turn more than your bodywants to allow. Enter a series of compensations, which usually take the form of lifting your back or bending your left elbow. At that point, you start to lose your coil and stretch, and the energy you built up earlier drops back down to nil.


This is easy: Your right arm tells you how far you can take back the club.

Assume your normal setup and then, without moving your hips, bring your right arm up like you’re holding a service tray. Try to hold the tray as far behind you as possible without forcing it. Now, with your left hand, bring the club into your right hand. There’s your natural backswing turn. It may not look like Woods’, Els’ or Mickelson’s, but it’s loaded with enough coil power to blast the ball a good long way.


Overturning is caused by over-rotating your right shoulder, which also pulls your left shoulder off-plane. To sync your shoulder turn and feel how far back you should take the club, try the drill below. If you catch Tiger during a practice round, you’ll see him do this from time to time.

This drill proves that your natural backswing length is determined by how far your can turn your left shoulder, not your right. If you feel you need more turn, get into the gym and start stretching. Otherwise, your attempts to force power will cost you distance and accuracy.

Get into your golf posture and address a ball. Take your left hand off the club and move your left arm under your right, placing the back of your left hand against your right elbow. Take your backswing, keeping your left hand firmly against your right elbow the entire way to the top. Feel the muscles in your left shoulder tighten as you swing to the top. When you can’t turn any more, stop. Now you’re loaded and in control. If you removed your left hand, you’d still be able to turn your right shoulder. That’s overturn and it’s bad for your game.