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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How a Yardstick Can Help Your Game

If you've breezed through any of the early posts in my Basic Principles of the Game category, you'll find that I have one principle that doesn't change whether you're putting, driving, or any kind of stroke in-between:
The clubface should remain square to the stroke path; the forearms should NOT rotate during the execution of the stroke.
As radical as that may sound, you'll find echoes of it in the works of many teachers who would probably deny teaching it. Hogan, for example, said that your forearms shouldn't consciously rotate during your swing. Another example is Brandel Chamblee, who is only one of the teachers you'll hear on GC telling you that you want your hands under the club at the top of the swing. (Think about it. If your hands are under the club at the top and you gripped the club with a neutral or only slightly strong grip -- as recommended -- your wrists have cocked pretty much straight up. That means you didn't rotate your forearms.)

The legendary teacher Bob Toski used a yardstick to teach how this feels, and it may help some of you who have trouble with twisting your forearms and laying the club off on your backswing. The drill is from Toski's book How to Feel a Real Golf Swing, and it's on pages 24-27 if you want to check out Toski's entire explanation. It helps correct problems from putting the grip too much in either your palms or your fingers. The photos are from this webpage at the U.S. Golf Schools and Travel site showing the drill. I've enlarged the pictures for easier viewing.

Lead hand position on yardsticksAll you have to do is take two yardsticks (or one cut in half) and tape them together to stiffen and thicken them up. Toski says to take your grip by laying the sticks against the callouses at the base of your fingers on your lead hand (left hand for righties, right hand for lefties), then curl your fingers around the yardsticks. The sticks will slide up slightly into your palm. You can see this in the picture at right. Your lead thumb will be on top of or just creeping over the side of the yardsticks.

Complete grip on yardsticksOnce you've got your lead hand placed, it's a fairly simple matter to get your trailing hand in place. Note that your trailing thumb WON'T be on top of the yardsticks. Rather, it will hang over onto the target side.

You should try cocking your wrists up and down with this grip. Toski says it will probably feel weaker at address than than you're used to, but will actually feel stronger at impact. And if you've been holding the club too much in your palms, this will increase your wrist cock. That should add power to your swing.

Notice that the yardstick is under the heel of your lead palm. (Look at the top picture again.) This is where a lot of players get messed up with their grips. You want to get the same feeling when you grip your club.

And when you put your trailing hand on the club, the thumb of your lead hand should fit into the lifeline of your trailing hand. When you read this it sounds like your trailing hand will be on top of the club, but when you actually do it, your grip will be slightly strong. And when you swing, at impact it will feel as if you're "slapping" the ball with your trailing palm.

If you try making some swings and cocking your wrists straight up on the way back, it will help you keep the club "on plane." When you bend your trailing elbow during your backswing, that will cause enough "slant" to get the club on plane... but you'll feel as if your hands and forearms are in pretty much the same relative position they were at address. That will make it easier to return them to the ball squarely.

I know it sounds a bit strange, but it makes sense when you actually feel it. 

The yardstick drill can help you develop a better grip with less forearm rotation. And that will help you hit longer, straighter shots.

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