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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lee Westwood on Iron Play

Since Lee Westwood's name is on almost everybody's short list of likely winners at the PGA Championship starting today, I thought this tip he did for UPS on iron play would be appropriate. The info he gives is useful on its own, but I want to focus on something you can see near the end of the video. First, here's the tip:

Pay attention to the unusual low front camera angle at the end of the clip. This leg work is a big part of the reason Lee is so good from tee to green.

Although Lee's left knee bends quite a bit during his backswing, can you see how his right leg stays pretty steady? His right knee stays flexed -- it doesn't straighten out, which is a real problem for some people. This helps him stay steady over the ball during his swing, so he's more consistent in bringing the club back into contact with the ball. Consistent solid contact is the big key to both distance and accuracy.

But mainly I'd like you to look at his left foot. It stays pretty much flat on the ground throughout his backswing until he starts down. I know many of you aren't flexible enough to do this, and that's ok because that's not what I want you to notice. Smiley Rather, I want you to see that little "jump" his heel makes as he starts down, right about the 1:15 mark. That's how he starts his downswing, NOT by shifting his hips too far forward the way some of you have been taught to do!

Don't get me wrong -- your hips will move toward the target a little bit. Let me stress that -- A LITTLE BIT. This move happens naturally, but if you purposely move them too much you'll start leaning away from the ball on the downswing. That will cause you to do bad things like leave the clubface open and hit the ball fat.

Note also that Lee doesn't lift that heel slowly throughout his backswing. It really does look like a little jump, right at the last moment as he starts his downswing. There's nothing wrong with a more prolonged heel lift -- Tom Watson is someone who does it really well -- but I want you to know that there's more than one way to use a heel lift during your swing. Tom uses it to lengthen and smooth out his swing while Lee uses it as a trigger to start his downswing.

Lee's method isn't something that's obvious when you see him swing at full speed, but you might find it to be a useful technique if you're struggling to calm down an overactive lower body.

And don't forget, the TV coverage is on TNT from 1pm-7pm Eastern Time today. Lee tees off at 1:55, so he should be one of the featured players during the telecast.

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