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May 8 2013

9:56 AM

Tips from Travis: Sync the downswing

Derek Ernst's downswing move is one to watch to maximize your speed. (Redington/Getty Images)

By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy

Hello, Derek Ernst.

What a win at the Wells Fargo Championship by the young American to capture his first PGA TOUR title. Not bad considering the 22-year-old wasn’t even sure he would get in sitting as the fourth alternate entering the week.

So many things to be impressed with concerning Ernst’s performance, and two things really stood out for me as I watched him hit great shot after great shot late on Sunday afternoon. First and foremost, here we have yet another young player looking so poised and comfortable on the big stage. In many ways, it was Ernst who looked like the veteran down the stretch that was under such control executing under tremendous pressure.

There are a lot of reasons that point to this great poise at such a young age, but perhaps none more than all the competitive rounds he has played along the way. There is a lot to be said and learned from playing competitively and having success along the way. These building blocks from junior golf, to high school, college and finally professionally teaches young players how to prepare, compete and win.

Secondly, I really like the way Ernst uses his body on the downswing. Derek has a golf swing that creates a lot of speed through impact but yet still looks compact and under control. The key to this speed is the sequence in which he uses his body on the downswing. In golf instruction, we call this “Kinematic Sequence.”

Kinematic sequence is a term that really has come to the surface under the education of the Titleist Performance Institute. This group has done a great job of shedding more light on how the body needs to work to maximize your speed. The sequence of the body on the downswing should work as followed:

1) Hips – The downswing should start with a lower body weight shift. Allow the weight to move into the ground through the lead foot. As the hips shift laterally towards the target be sure to stabilize the torso by keeping it closed during this initial transition.

2) Torso – After the initial shift in the hips and stability in the torso, then the torso can begin to turn, however make sure this turn is not the first movement during the initial downswing. As the torso begins to turn you will feel the lead arm now stabilize by loading up against the chest. This pressure from the lead arm to the side of the chest is not only powerful but offers great structure to the swing as well.

3) Lead arm – Once the lead arm loads against the chest it can now be propelled off the chest. This can be a great feeling of this stored energy finally being released; however, as the lead arm starts to go you are not quite there yet, as the clubhead needs to be lagging as a result of a bent right wrist.

4) Clubhead – The final piece to the sequence is the clubhead. This can be the result of great speed if the trail wrist stays bent to impact and slightly beyond. In many ways, this clubhead lag can be a result of the sequence defined above increasing your club head speed and maximizing its timeliness through impact.

A lot to take in I know but movements that can be learned. My advice to you is to find out how you are using your body and begin to get the sequence in order so you too can maximize your speed.

Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.

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