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Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Drill from Henrik Stenson

In case you didn't see Morning Drive on Wednesday, Henrik Stenson was on the show for maybe 90 minutes. While he was there, he did several teaching spots. There was one I really wanted to highlight.

In the following video Billy Harmon and Damon Hack get some tips on how to hit solid iron shots:

This clip reiterates several things I mention frequently on this blog. I want to point out that Henrik's instructor Pete Cowen teaches a classic swing move, which focuses on the upper body's role in the swing more than the lower body's. (The modern swing focuses on the lower body.) However, many of the fundamentals are the same and Henrik had a great drill that works well with either swing. I'll get to that in a moment.

First let's look at a few of the things I've mentioned before that Henrik keyed on.

Henrik talks about beginning his downswing with a downward move, not a leg push toward the target. The hips move toward the target later in the swing as a consequence of the proper downward move. This is necessary for the stability that allows him to hit the ball consistently. He describes the way he feels this move as his right (trailing) shoulder beginning his downswing.

He also talks about feeling as if the upper and lower body start down almost together. (In fact, Billy Harmon makes a point of stressing this idea.) The lower body braces against the ground so the shoulder coil can begin to unwind from the top of the downswing. The lower body HAS to start first -- as I've said repeatedly, it's physically impossible to start a properly-coiled downswing any other way -- but the two are working together so closely that it can be hard to detect the difference at first.

Note also that Henrik demonstrates two wrong ways to do it -- one involves the lower body turning toward the target too quickly (which causes him to lean backward), the other involves the upper body moving too much toward the target (again causing an unwanted lean). These leans ruin your ability to hit the ball solidly.

A quick note: There's a strange comment about the muscles turning the skeleton rather than the skeleton turning the muscles. What he means is that the muscles can contract and make you move without causing a lot of excess body movement, but you have to make large body movements to get the skeleton moving. Henrik's swing doesn't use a lot of big movements in the downswing.

The drill I mentioned starts around the 4:00 mark. It doesn't require a club so you can do it while you watch TV. Henrik simply takes his address position and places his hands palms down in front of him as if they were on a tabletop. He then swings them up to about shoulder height on his trailing side, as if he was placing his palms against a wall. Finally he swings them back down to his address position.

Study this section of the video. You'll see that he keeps his legs and hips pretty quiet on the way back; he can do that because he's only coiling his shoulders partway, just as I had you do in the practice drill for hitting a draw last week. Then as he turns back to address, he braces his trailing knee and it does move his body slightly forward as he moves down. See how his left leg flexes as his weight shifts to it?

This drill will help you learn to make a solid downward move on the ball and get a good weight shift WITHOUT a lot of excess lower body movement. If Henrik says something this simple helps him, don't you think it's worth a try?

In case you can't get the video to run, you can click this link to get the original at GC's website.

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