A large portion of the articles I write come from actual lessons with my students. A topic that repeats itself each day, on the lesson tee, is the difficulty to stay behind the ball and hit from the inside. This mistake basically targets any golfer whose tendency is to slice the ball.
When the upper body unwinds at the start of the downswing, the body is out ahead of the arms and club. The arms and club are forced to play catch up to square the clubface at impact. Additionally, as the upper body unwinds, the golf shaft tends to steepen and angle to the left of target line. The impact contacts the ball first, then the ground with the deep divot angled left of the target. This mistake robs golfers of power, distance, accuracy and confidence.
To improve this mistake, you must allow the downswing to start more with the arms and hands as you hold the shoulders turned. Here is a step-by-step process to improve your downswing.
- The first step is to get the club to swing more on an arc rather than a steep straight line. I’ll often have students make practice swings with the club up off the ground to get the feeling of a more rounded swing. By holding the clubhead at knee level and making a swing back and thru at that height you’ll get the feeling the club swinging more on an arc.
- In addition to the baseball swing motion, have the feeling of the club swinging from inside the target line and out to the right of the intended target. This will give you the proper feel for a swing coming from the inside, instead of outside the target line.
- Last, you want to feel the back of your left hand releasing the club as you approach impact. This feeling comes from the last three fingers of your left hand rotating the back of your hand to face the target at impact.
Working on this downswing motion will give you the sensation that your arms/hands are working independent of your upper body. You might feel the club swing past your body as you approach impact. This is a good sensation and it means you’re keeping your back to the target and shoulders turned longer. You will also notice that your divot pattern will start to change from a deeper divot, angled left and in front of the ball to a more shallow, square divot starting where the ball is positioned. As you improve this motion you’ll notice better trajectory, a straighter shot shape and more distance.
Tim Cusick is the Director of Instruction at the Four Seasons Resort and Club/Dallas at Las Colinas. The Northern Texas PGA named Cusick Teacher of the Year in 2005, 2009 and 2015, as well as the 2014 Horton Smith Award winner for education. He’s the author of ‘The Four Keys to Improve your Swing.’ Follow him on Twitter @timcusickgolf and visit his website: timcusickgolf.com.