Symptom: Your golf downswing causes you to lose your balance as you swing. You start the downswing poorly, and so you can’t recover. Your golf downswing doesn’t look like the guys on TV. Nobody is saying “nice golf swing” after you hit, even if it does happen to go approximately where you were aiming…
Description: For a proper golf downswing, start the downswing by bringing your right elbow to your side and keeping it there until the release.
Why it Works: Starting the downswing by bringing your right elbow back to your side keeps the club on the proper plane, and keeps your center of gravity well controlled. This allows you to spin faster through the ball, with better control, and in balance.
The Right Elbow in the Golf Downswing
Have a look at Rory McIlroy’s swing, and focus on his downswing, especially the start of his downswing as he drives toward the ball.
All good players, but Rory in particular, return their right elbow to their side on the downswing. See picture at the right. Rory does this to start the downswing, which would lead to a very inside path for his clubhead if he did not compensate by also aggressively rotating his hips through the ball. His arms sort of “come along for the ride” and release the club down the line. It’s this aggressive body rotation through the ball, enabled by his very-tucked right elbow at the start of the downswing, that gives him his tremendous power and balance.
Bring the Right Elbow in to Start the Downswing
The point is that if you are having trouble keeping your balance at the end of the swing, you are probably throwing yourself off balance during the start of the downswing with a casting motion, and your right elbow is far from your side. This is giving you a poor downswing plane, and causing you to slice. Take a tip from Rory and bring that right elbow to your side sooner!
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In this video post, we take a look at Justin Thomas. In particular, his golf setup and golf alignment routine that he goes through before he addresses the golf ball. Mundane, you say? Very few things can help you improve faster than getting into the proper golf address position with proper golf alignment on each and every shot.
I often see my playing partners neglect this part of the game. It is a shame. If you don’t get your golf setup, golf alignment, and golf aim right, you cannot possibly execute your best swing at your intended target. It is the Aim->Align->Execute method. You will hardly ever see a pro skip this step. But, you also seldom see this shown on TV.
Golf Alignment is Key
Watch his setup and preparation to hit this golf shot. It is a practice round, or a pro-am, or something (see the golf cart? note that there are no spectators?). But this does not deter Justin from going through his routine, because you do it every time. Even at the driving range. Yes, even at the driving range. How else will you improve.
Golf Aim Before Golf Address
Notice how he picks a definite, distant target to aim at. Once he finds his close-in spot he aligns his clubface and builds his stance around this spot. He checks his distant target a couple of times after building his stance on his intended line. His stance is athletic, as if he about to sit on a bar stool. Then he finally pulls the trigger (0:25) and executes his shot.
His alignment and setup routine is methodical, repeatable, and meticulous. This, plus a whole lot of talent and hard work, surely contributes to Justin’s success.
You probably can’t generate the clubhead speed that Justin does. But you can surely copy his setup and alignment routine before addressing the ball the next time you play at your home course, or at the local driving range. Give it a try, I guarantee you will bring more consistency to your game!
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Symptom: When chipping from a bad lie, your chip shots sometimes go two feet instead of the thirty feet you had planned, often nestling down in the grass to make for an even more difficult chip for your next shot. Expletives are uttered or at least imagined.
Description: Study your lie, then find some grass and a stance that closely resemble your lie and take enough practice swings through the grass to get a feel for your chip. Then, and only then, do you pick a spot to land your ball and execute your chip.
Why it Works: Chipping, more than any other shot in golf, depends upon the details of your lie. This is because chips are such short shots, that your don’t generate much clubhead speed. Any extra piece of grass can catch your club, take spin off the ball, decelerate your clubhead, or do other unexpected and unwanted things. Chipping is an art, that is why touch and feel in chipping are so important for this phase of the game.
The Rehearsal Chip
The good news is that you can almost always do your practice chips in grass that closely resembles your lie. Please note that sometimes, the best duplicate lie might be several paces away from your ball. This is especially so if you are in an unusual (and unfortunate) situation, such as a severe upslope or downslope, your feet far above or below the ball, etc. Don’t let that deter you — walking several yards from your ball to find the right duplicate lie is a very good investment of your time. You need to get a feel for how much the grass is catching the clubface, how much you need to hit down on the ball, how to best distribute your weight if you are on a hill, and so on. For a great illustration of this tip, watch Tom Watson’s famous chip-in at the 71st hole of the 1982 US Open at Pebble Beach. See how his rehearsal chips (0:20) are right next to his ball, to mimic his actual lie? Obviously his result was excellent (good thing it hit the pin!), and sealed his victory over Nicklaus — have a look:
Hands Ahead for Chipping
If your lie is anything but perfect, please remember to keep your hands ahead of the ball through impact to ensure that your clubface delivers a descending blow to the golf ball. Tom did this and it worked for him!
Remember, duplicate your lie for rehearsal chips on the course, and I’ll guarantee your chipping and scores improve! Tell your friends! Like, Tweet, Email, or +1 below!
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Today we take a look at the swing of a true legend of the game, Lee Trevino. Lee is going to show us how to release your clubhead down the line.
Trevino’s Homemade Swing
Trevino, winner of six major championships, had a home-made swing that looks a bit odd and awkward at first. Don’t let this deceive you. Lee was, and is, regarded as one of the games all-time great ball strikers. So obviously he did a lot of things right, and could do them right under extreme pressure. Most importantly, he had a golf swing that the Occasional Golfer can emulate successfully. Let’s have a look at Lee hit a few balls:
Some notable things about Lee’s motion are that he has a pronounced starter move (for example, 0:05, 0:24, 1:05), a fairly short backswing, and a huge down-the line clubhead release. Indeed, it looks as if he is literally hurling himself down the target line, chasing after the ball. This is the key to his consistent ball striking — he is able to keep the clubface square to the target line for an incredibly long time with this unique release motion. Hence, he can hit the ball with a very shallow descending blow.
Lee Knows How to Release
To study his release a bit further, study the swing sequence from (0:38) to (0:42). I’ve stopped the action at a few key points, and drawn horizontal and vertical reference lines below:
Note how much Lee drops his head on the downswing and release (nearly a foot!, more even than another great ball striker, Tom Lehman) as he chases his clubhead down the line. Despite this “bear down” move on the downswing, his head does not move laterally. It remains lined up with the green dashed line, and he remains focused on the golf ball. So, strictly speaking, Lee does not keep his head still at all during the swing. But he does not move it laterally either, and keeps his eyes focused on where the ball was well through impact, so he can still deliver a consistent, downward strike to the ball. This is the essence of what it means to keep your head still. And it is what enables him to chase down the line so well, and that is what makes him the great ball striker that he is.
Release Like Trevino
Now, I’m not suggesting you drop your head on the downswing as much as Lee Trevino. But, if your back can handle it (be sure to warm up first), try hitting some easy shots like Lee. Keep your head centered over the ball, clear your hips, fire through the ball, extend the clubface down the line after impact — do it like Lee. You will find that you are striking down on the ball, releasing the clubhead down the line, and enjoying a new consistency to your ball striking that you’ve not seen before.
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