After I looked at Dex and his friend Doc's swings, I finished the post by saying
"So what both Dex and Doc need to do is correct that over-rotation of their arms during the backswing. In the next post I'll give them a drill to teach them both the proper movement of their arms though the entire swing -- or rather, teach them what they should feel in order to get the proper movement. That's what is really tripping them up."The first stages of this drill focus almost totally on how a good swing feels. One good thing that has come out of Seve's untimely passing is a renewed interest in his game, and one of his keys was an awareness of his hand position throughout his swing. That's what made him such a great shotmaker, and I want Dex (and Doc, if he decides he wants to try this) to learn how to make shots rather than just swing the club.
To do that, we're going to build our drill in stages. Each stage will focus on developing a feel during that stage of the swing. One of the most important lessons you can learn is that what you feel you're doing during your swing is almost always entirely different from what you think you're doing. Much of making a good swing is just about getting out of your own way, of putting yourself in a position that allows a good swing to happen naturally.
For the first part of our hand position drill, we're going to incorporate a move Dexter has already proven he can do -- the one-piece takeaway. We're going to use the one-piece takeaway drill as our first building block in this drill, but we're going to make a few changes to it:
- change our grip
- cock our wrists
- increase its range
Change Our Grip
In the original drill we used our normal grip, which for most of us is turned slightly strong on the club. (That is, your hands are turned slightly to the right if you're a right-hander, slightly to the left if you're a left-hander.) But this time we're going to start with a neutral grip, with both thumbs on top of the club shaft. The reason is simple: It's much easier for most of us to correlate our hand position to the clubface position this way, and that's what we ultimately want -- to know that when our hands are in this position, the clubface will send the ball in that direction.
Cock Our Wrists
By using a neutral grip, it's very easy to cock our wrists straight up. Here's what we want to do: We take our normal setup position and, using a neutral grip, cock our wrists so the club shaft forms a 90° angle with our forearms. Yes, it's going to look a bit strange, standing in your setup position with the club pointing straight up in the air, but bear with me.
Increase Its Range
In the original one-piece takeaway drill we only turned from our setup position until our hands were waist-high on the backswing. Now we're going to add the same portion of our followthrough -- in other words, the drill is now twice as long, from a half-backswing to a half-followthrough. Got it?
So Here's Part 1 of Our Drill:
If you aren't already, get familiar with the one-piece takeaway drill in the post I referenced earlier. Dex already knows it, so I'll get on with how to do this new version:
- Take your setup position, holding the club with a neutral grip.
- Cock your wrists upward, so the club shaft makes a 90° angle with your forearms.
- Start your backswing, slowly turning until your hands reach waist-high. Now, this is vitally important and will probably be the most confusing part, but I'll explain it in a minute: I want you to make sure the club shaft is perpendicular to the ground when you reach that waist-high position. This won't require any forearm twisting. All you need to do is lift your left elbow (right elbow if you're left-handed) straight away in front of your body, just a little. Although your elbow moves, you'll probably feel it more at your left shoulder, as if you were pushing the club away from you.
- Keeping your wrists cocked, slowly change direction and turn until your hands reach waist-high in your followthrough. Again, it is vitally important that you make sure the club shaft is perpendicular to the ground when you reach that waist-high position. In fact, it will feel as if the shaft points straight up all the way through this drill.
- Return to your setup position and uncock your wrists. This will put you back into your original start position. Repeat several times.
Here's where we get confused over what we think we're doing and what we feel we're doing. There are physical laws at work in the golf swing that happen automatically. When you swing the club back at your regular speed, the weight of the club is automatically slung along a plane, which means the shaft automatically slants onto the plane, In addition, the bending of our elbow on the backswing further shapes that plane. That's how it works provided we don't interfere. But when we consciously twist our forearms, we do interfere and we cause the shaft to slant too much.
That's what Dex and Doc -- and probably many of you -- are doing during your swings. What this drill teaches you is what a neutral, unmanipulated forearm move feels like. With your forearms relaxed and in this position, the natural forces in the golf swing act automatically. Anything that happens naturally tends to happen more consistently, and that's what we're after.
Here's one other thing you'll notice when you try this: You can't point the butt of the shaft (and therefore the heel of your hand) toward the ball as you "swing" into the impact position. That's because you have to rotate your forearms to make that move. Instead, this move will feel more like you're throwing a Frisbee, with the back of your hand moving toward the target. Focus on that feel; in this position, the back of your hand faces the same direction as the face of the club. You can know the clubface position because of your hand position. This is an important concept, and I want you to feel it clearly.
I know you all probably have more questions, like how this translates to a normal grip or how this "Frisbee feel" can possibly work in a normal swing. By the time we're done you'll be doing this with your normal grip and you'll be able to feel the hinging and unhinging action for yourself, but I'm going to ask you to trust me for now. This is the shortest route to success I know, and I'll try to answer your questions as we go along. For now, just work with this first stage of the drill and focus on that vertical shaft position at the two halfway points. It's going to pay dividends in the next few days.