Coach's Perspective

Analysis on the game and golf instruction from Canadian golf coach Nick Starchuk.

Winter Work – Week 1

Canadians aren’t the only golfers who train indoors over the winter. In 2008, Steve Stricker worked on his mechanics in an indoor lab while his home was surrounded by snow. Mike Weir and Sean O’Hair are 2 other players who have state of the art video and swing evaluation labs in their homes so we can see that even at the highest level, the players see a value in practice into a net or a screen. I believe that for a short term period, working on swing mechanics where success is based on position rather than ball flight can improve the consistency of contact. When I work with my players, we measure 2 things: the ball speed and the sound it makes.

I have selected a series of drills that every golfer can do regardless of their swing style. These 10 drills, if practiced in layers over 3 months will improve the ball striking of any player.

Drill #1 – Trailing Arm Only Pitch Shots

Setup:

*9 iron *trailing/lower hand on club

*shaft leans slightly forward at address – place RH comfortably half way down the grip

*shaft and forearm line up *ball position – 2 balls inside of lead foot instep

As a ‘feel predictor’ for how to set your bottom hand on the club, I encourage you to place the leading edge of the club against a door frame and bend the shaft forward using both hands – you should notice that the pressure builds in your bottom hand trigger finger. When you setup for this drill, put your hand on which will best allow you to search for this same trigger finger pressure through the hit.

Swing:

*hand travels from just above waist to waist

*try to maintain shaft/forearm line up

*shaft leans forward through impact – turn the 9 iron into a 7 iron Finish:

*wrist still bent slightly

*shaft is vertical

The goal here is solid contact while controlling the clubhead. The club may feel heavier throughout this swing and you may soon notice that the contact improves when you’re slower and rhythmic. The body moves to support the path of your forearm, where if your forearm leads this swing, the wrist will lead the grip and lean the shaft forward. Upon impact, I encourage a 9.5/10 grip pressure to stop and control the club so that you control the club rather than the club controlling you.

This exercise will not only strengthen the swing but it will strengthen your arm. A key to getting the most out of impact is the ability to ‘hit the brakes’ to the right spot at the right time, so the idea of light grip pressure and tension free are not the ideals of a ball striker. Most golfers have hit a punch shot that has flown much further than they ever expected where most likely, the shaft leaned forward enough that the’brakes hit’ and you got more out of your club.

My recommendation is to practice the Trail Arm Only Pitch shot with a 9 iron, twice for 45 minutes in the first week. Grade your practice on your rhythm, sequencing, and ball contact.



4 responses to “Winter Work – Week 1”

  1. Matt Wilson

    Nick,

    Great drill on so many levels – it provides a great deal of feedback for the student. I specifically like the idea of controlling the club rather than it controlling you – helps to develop a sense of stabilized force if you will.

    Looking forward to the next 9!

    MW

  2. Alf

    Nice Drill Nick…great point on the grip pressure – a lot of amateurs always hear “grip it lightly, grip it lightly” but if you grip it too lightly you can lose the control of the clubface throughout the swing. Thumbs up dude!

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