Instruction: Go shorter, flatter for more power
March 12, 2014
- March 12, 2014
- PGA TOUR Experiences
By Anne Cain (@AnneCainGolf), Master Instructor, PGA TOUR Golf Academy World Golf Village
Have you ever noticed that when a football place-kicker lines up to boot a really long field goal, he stands on more of an inclined angle to the ball, versus directly behind it? This creates a longer line into the ball—like the hypotenuse side of a right triangle—giving the kicker more time to generate speed and rotational forces and hit the ball farther. The same thing applies to the golf swing—the flatter and more inclined the plane of the shaft is traveling down into the ball, the more distance the clubhead has to travel and the longer you'll hit the ball.
The blueprint for this flatter, more diagonal swing is Matt Kuchar. One of the tallest players on the PGA TOUR at 6 foot, 4 inches, Kuchar looks as if he's ducking for cover when he swings. His left arm rotates so much around his chest that it finishes underneath his right shoulder at the top of the swing, whereas most players' lead arm covers their shoulder. He makes a very deep shoulder turn, storing a tremendous amount of rotational energy which he'll unleash on the downswing.
To flatten out your backswing, swing your left arm across the buttons on your shirt as if you were trying to place your left palm on an imaginary wall behind you. Swing back, not up. When viewed from behind, your hands should finish at approximately 10 o’clock and your left arm should be on the same plane as your shoulders.
To train your left arm to swing behind you and across your chest, fold up a towel and secure it between your left tricep and your chest. Swing back to the top, maintaining pressure on the towel with your left arm so that it doesn’t slip loose. If you lift the club up, then your left arm will separate from your body and the towel will fall to the ground.
Keep both feet corkscrewed into the ground (i.e., flat on the ground) on the backswing to avoid lifting or swaying and to facilitate the proper backswing pivot. Your right butt cheek should move several inches toward the target, causing the right leg to straighten some. If you try to keep the right knee flexed, you’ll have a hard time shifting your back side laterally and rounding out your left arm at the top of the backswing.
The length of the backswing in all of the previous images, including the one here, is very short. But that doesn’t prohibit you from hitting the ball farther. On the contrary--a shorter, flatter swing is much easier to keep on-plane than a longer, more upright swing. You’ll make fewer compensations on the downswing and hit the sweet spot on the clubface more often, producing greater ball speeds and bigger drives.
Anne Cain is a Master Instructor at PGA TOUR Golf Academy World Golf Village and a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. To learn more about The Anne Cain Experience, a personalized three-day golf school that allows you to work one-on-one (or with a friend) with Anne, click here.