Pull for Power

February 23, 2007

EFFECTIVE GOLF swings compress the ball on the clubface at impact; the ball then rebounds off the face into flight. As legendary teacher Seymour Dunn described it, the ball is “flattened like a pancake, and goes off like a bullet.”

Here’s a simple key for exerting effective force into the ball: The clubhead must not pass the hands prior to impact. The head should be behind the grip as it’s pulled through the hitting area. If the club’s weight (the head) gets in front of your body prior to impact, the club begins to decelerate, making it difficult to keep the clubhead stable and on-plane. Consequently, you lose the ability to compress the ball.

In a “pulling” swing, there are four points of pressure that help keep the clubhead behind the hands and on-plane. They are: 1) the right wrist, 2) the last three fingers of the left hand, 3) the right forefinger, and 4) the upper chest and left arm. During the swing, pressure is loaded onto these four points; then the swing transports the weight of the club behind these same points. If the clubhead passes any of these points of pressure prior to impact, both your distance and accuracy suffer.


Sam Greenwood

AT IMPACT, THE FORWARD leaning shaft and clubhead exert force into the ball. When the right wrist is bent back, pressure is applied to the left arm and shaft as the clubhead approaches impact. If the clubhead weight passes the hands prematurely, the right wrist straightens, slowing down the clubhead. To ingrain the correct feeling of the bent right wrist, sprinkle some grass on your left thumb and take your grip. Make some short pitching-length swings. If the right wrist stays bent, force is sustained during the downswing and the grass will remain in place.

THE LAST THREE FINGERS OF the left hand and the middle two fingers of the right hand exert force on the shaft. The other fingers should gently feel the club. When taking your left-hand grip, pull up on the shaft with the last three fingers, then place your thumb and forefinger on the club: Do not push down on the grip with the top of your left hand. Pressure from these three fingers supports the left wrist hinge during the backswing and the unhinge through impact, allowing the clubhead to release effectively to apply maximum force.

HERE’S AN IMPORTANT POINT: Nearly every bad shot in golf results from the shaft coming off the right forefinger before impact. When this occurs, it’s all but impossible to control the clubhead. As you address the ball, you should feel very little pressure on your right forefinger. However, as you start your swing, the weight of the club puts pressure onto your forefinger. This pressure must be sustained throughout the downswing, with the forefinger staying in front of the clubhead. To help maintain this pressure through impact, when taking your grip extend the forefinger down the shaft.

AT IMPACT, THE SHAFT forms a straight line with the left arm: The left arm is resting against the upper left chest with the body behind the arm; this supports the club and helps apply force down into the ball. If the clubhead gets ahead of the left chest, or the left arm separates from the body, the club moves off-plane. Learn to keep the left arm and chest together by making practice swings with a headcover under your left upper-arm. In a good swing, the headcover remains in place. If the headcover falls out, you have not sustained enough pressure through impact.