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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Basic Principles of Good Driving

Now we’ve reached the final step in my progression of how you carry the good practices you learn in a putting stroke into your full swing. We’ve moved from putting to chipping to punching to pitching to approaching … and finally to driving.

By driving, of course, I’m referring to any full-swing shot where you want to get maximum distance. (And any posts concerning driving will be found under the category of “full swing basics.” Just so you know.) These principles are the same as the Basic Principles of Good Approaching, but Principle 6 has changed slightly to include the use of a tee and we’ve added one more new technique.
  1. The clubface should remain square to the stroke path; the forearms should NOT rotate during the execution of the stroke.
  2. Unless we have a good reason to do otherwise, the club should be held in a slant-parallel grip where both palms are parallel to each other but the grip is turned slightly strong. This allows us to keep the wrists firm through impact without tensing the hands and forearms.
  3. The club should be held no tighter than necessary, without tension in the arms or shoulders or hands.
  4. The club handle should be held more in the fingers, so that the wrists can cock freely. Some people will still keep the forearms close to parallel with the shaft, but this becomes less important. The uncocking action at impact, coupled with the length and speed of the swing, governs the actual position taken at setup.
  5. Unless making a specialized stroke, the club should never follow an outside-to-inside path (a cut stroke).
  6. If the ball is sitting on the ground, the clubhead should travel on a slightly upward path on the backswing and more downward on the downstroke, just as in the approach shot. However, if the ball is on a tee, we move the ball slightly forward in our stance to catch the ball more on the upswing.
  7. The lower body should not be rigid, neither should it be consciously moved. It should move no more than the natural execution of the stroke requires.
The drive adds a final new technique to the swing: Delaying the cocking of the wrists, also called cocking on the downswing, which adds power to the shot. This technique applies to any shot where you’re trying to hit the ball as far as possible.

And again, I have not changed Principle 7, because I think it’s more effective for a weekend golfer (and maybe for the pros as well!) to focus on proper coiling and simply let the lower body respond naturally on the downswing. The Basic Principles of Good Approaching went into more detail concerning this, so I’ll just refer you back to that post.

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