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After a few years off, I'm getting an interest in golf again. My main problem, after getting a few basic pointers correcting my stance and backswing from a clubfitter I was working with to find the right driver, is a tendency to back away from the ball with my upper body at impact, causing me to hit the ball thin, top it or whiff it. I know I'm doing it, and correct it on the next swing, but that's only an option at the driving range, not on the course. The only advice the clubfitter could give was "don't do that".

Is there a common drill that can help reduce this tendency and integrate it into my muscle memory? It seems to only happen with woods, sometimes my hybrid, never on irons, so I'm thinking it's caused by the longer shaft length and the desire for distance making me put my back into it too much.

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3 Answers 3

I have exactly the same problem. My teachers said that's because I want to do one of two things:

  • See where it will land before I even hit it.
  • Trying to hit harder to get more distance.

I have two drills that my teacher make me do, I think it depends exactly on the error you have.

  • Put your head (your forehead) againts a wall. Then practice your swing avoiding moving your head from the wall.. it you hurt yourself, well you hit the wall ;). Anyway try it at home, and also at driving, because I felt that this particular drill seems to fail at home (I never get up at home, I usually did that at the driving).
  • the other is not a drill, but a way to hit. Just keep your eyes on the tee (or the floor) for at least one more second after hitting the ball. This will take out the pressure on where did it fall.

Of course I'm not a teacher, and I have a horrible handicap, but I have this drills working it out to avoid at least this problems (my mental problems on the fields has another issues by itself :) )

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Rickie Fowler does something similar. "How far back I move my head is a matter of timing that varies day to day. If I'm feeling super on, I shift back real far."

I would start out using driving with control, and the way Rickie does that is to choke down on the driver and tee the ball low and perpendicular to your left heel. I think this promotes less of a "rip it" mentality and more of a "make a solid strike" one.

Last year, I was in such ball-striking mess that I considered giving up the game of golf. Rickie's control tip really helped me to gain confidence off the tee, even though I wasn't bombing it. Now, when I get a good hold of a drive, I'm driving it 50 yards past my playing partners, and if it's not working for me that day (usually any day), I fall back to the control drive.

A drill Hank Haney would do with Charles Barkley (I know) is to place his hand on the Charles's forehead as he would make a swing. I would do that if someone was willing to assist with that.

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Not so much a drill but a thought process in how you swing the club - I think the key to this is what you do in the backswing, not the downswing. If you set yourself up well in the backswing then the downswing will take care of itself (i.e. I'll bet your head is coming up in the backswing too).

Try to imagine yourself rotating within a barrel when you swing the club and try to keep your belt-line level throughout the backswing. With the longer clubs (esp. the driver) we're told that the motion should be a longer sweeping one to encourage you to sweep the ball off the tee on the up-swing. Whilst correct this can also encourage more lateral/sideways body movement on the backswing, which if taken to extremes can result in a lifting of the head/upper body - your hands and arms go back and up in the backswing and your upper body follows.

For me having a mental image that I'm rotating my shoulders around two fixed points (i.e. my head and my feet firmly planted on the ground) works very well because it prevents me from swaying, which in my case can cause me to "stand up" on the backswing.

Nick Bradley proposes a "3 barrels" visualisation in his book, which I can very much recommend:

The 7 Laws of the Golf Swing

It's a bit technical at times, but really gives you an understanding of how the golf swing should work, and includes some great skeletal illustrations unlike any I've seen in other books.

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