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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Pushing the Club Away at the Top of Your Backswing

This post is from January 2017, on how Tommy Fleetwood changed his swing to hit the ball higher and farther. He did it by learning what some players call 'pushing the club away at the top of your backswing'. This drill is an excellent way to help stretch that wonderful multipurpose L-to-L drill into a longer swing. There's a link to a Golf Digest article in the next paragraph; be sure to read that short article to get the whole picture.

Golf Digest has a new article about how to make a wider, shallower swing like Tommy Fleetwood. Tommy held off Dustin Johnson this past weekend to win at Abu Dhabi.

I want to focus on how you get the feel described by instructor Shaun Webb.

Tommy Fleetwood

Here's how Webb describes the move:
"To get a better feel for this shot in your own game, take out a fairway wood and make swings feeling that your hands don't get closer to your body in transition and into the downswing," says Webb. "This will help widen your route to the ball and shallow the approach of the club. You'll start hitting them high and pure."
It doesn't take much thought to realize that it can't actually happen this way -- that is, your hands HAVE TO get closer to your body during your change of direction and downswing. So how do you FEEL that your hands are doing something that can't actually happen?
  • The key here is that you want to feel as if both arms remain completely straight throughout the swing. I'm sure you've heard instructors tell you that, at the top of your backswing, you want to use your trailing arm to push the club as far away from your head as you can. Annika is one player who says that's what she tries to feel during her swing. This is the feel you're after. If you try swinging the club straight up in front of you without turning your shoulders, you'll learn the basic feeling very quickly.
  • Unless you're very flexible, you'll need to shorten your swing to do this drill. That's because you need a full 90° shoulder coil to get anywhere close to this position, and even then you won't be able to do it once your hands start to move above your shoulders.
  • To keep both arms straight without tensing up and getting stiff, you need to feel as if both hands are doing an equal part of the work. If you were swinging a heavy weight at the end of the shaft, the way the weight would pull your arms outward is the feel you're looking for.
  • Now, you try to swing the club up so your hands are shoulder height. If it was me, I'd say to stop when your hands are only about chest high because it's easier that way. You have to coordinate the shoulder coil and the swing up so both arms stay straight. If you do it correctly, it's very easy.
  • To get the club above your shoulders -- and that won't be by much -- let your trailing elbow bend just a little. Got that? JUST A LITTLE. You only want it to bend enough that your hands can move slightly above your shoulders. That little bend will let your wrists cock.
  • Then, when you start down, that trailing elbow starts the downswing by straightening out.
After that, it's just a matter of swinging the club through impact and up to the finish.

If you do this correctly, your posture will be good throughout the swing and you'll feel less pressure in your lower back. And your weight shift from your trail leg to your lead leg should happen automatically.

You can try hitting balls this way also. It actually pretty easy, although you won't hit them as far as normal. (This drill is a shorter swing.)

Remember: The point of this drill is to help you learn how to keep your trail elbow from collapsing at the top of your backswing. It can really help improve your fairway wood play once you get that feel of width at the top.

Additional notes on 12/29/19:

Let me make sure you understand this point: The club gets closer to your body during your backswing because your trailing elbow HAS to bend at least a little when the club swings around your body. If it doesn't bend at least a little, the club swings straight up and down in front of your chest rather than moving across your chest and over your trail shoulder. And on the downswing, a vertical plane just jams the clubhead into the ground rather than creating the wide shallow plane we want.

And of course, on the followthrough your lead elbow bends a little so the clubhead can finish over your lead shoulder. Those two 'bends' are what create your swing plane. Got it? Good. (Drop me a comment if you need more explanation.)

I'm trying to present these reposts in a way that makes some logical sense, so you can use each new one to build on the last one.
We're working toward a swing that feels natural to you but makes it easier to square the clubface at impact. We'll start on that tomorrow.

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