Golf tip: When it's OK to throw your clubs

Rory McIlroy
PGA Tour/YouTube
There can be a time and place to throw clubs. Rory McIlroy on Friday at Doral wasn't one of them.
By Mark Aumann
PGA.com

Published: Monday, March 09, 2015 | 6:02 p.m.

Rory McIlroy's angry golf club toss into the lake Friday at Doral? Bad. Learning how to swing on plane and find the correct release point by throwing clubs on purpose? Good.

McIlroy's chucked 3-iron at Doral on Friday was not something amateur golfers should emulate. One, rotating metal shafts flying through the air are unsafe. Two, it's neither respectful of the equipment, the course, the tournament or the spectators.

RELATED: Rory McIlroy tosses club into lake | It's recovered by scuba diver

Having said that, there are times when throwing a golf club is not only accepted, but encouraged. For example, there's a club-throwing drill that not only helps with swing plane and release, but creates focus on the target rather than the ball.

PGA Professional Andy Hilts, vice president for instruction and education at GolfTEC in Englewood, Colorado, is a proponent of this drill.

Why? Because it addresses three things:

1. It changes the perception of the target in your mind
2. It eliminates the "cast and scoop" swing angle so prevalent for amateurs
3. It maintains the proper release of the wrists through impact

Plus, it's fun to do. Pick an open spot -- a large field or your backyard -- take your regular stance and grip, make a backswing and then let it fly.

"Throw it as hard as you can," Hilts said. "Take your normal stance and pick a target in the distance. The idea behind the drill is to have the club travel toward the target. I see so many people who just focus on hitting the golf ball when they should be focusing on where they want that ball to land."

What happens at first, Hilts said, is amateurs will almost always throw the club left and high of the target. That's because they tend to "cast" the club away from the body on the downswing and then try to scoop the ball into the air at impact. 

"Another issue that this drill deals with is the transition move," Hilts said. "It's about getting the club to drop down and swing more on plane, rather than the over-the-top move that we see so commonly in people. And the intention of this is to get people away from the idea of having to help the golf ball up into the air."

And, perhaps most importantly, this drill allows the player to get a better feel for the correct position at impact -- and followthrough. That's critical, because a study of the six million people who have taken lessons through GolfTEC and their Tour player database shows a high degree of correlation between handicap and swing finish position. The closer an amateur finishes his swing to an average Tour pro, the lower their handicap.

"If you release the clubhead through impact, in most cases you're going to be in a good finishing posiiton," he said.

So followthrough -- and the resulting finish position -- is a critical element of this drill, Hilts said.

"It's the holding of the wrist hinge for a longer period of time," Hilts said. "When you throw a club for speed and distance, people instinctively lag the club, much like you do with a baseball bat. You don't see anyone break their wrists too soon when swinging a bat. A free-wheeling release is massively beneficial in order to get the proper sensation of not casting and scooping, but lagging and unhinging at impact.

It's all about "swing through it, not to it," Hilts said. 

Hilts said he's given more than 12,000 lessons. And in his experiences, it's easier to fix impact as a motion rather than a position. And this drill goes a long way toward that goal.

Interested? Here's the video where Hilts explains the mechanics of the drill:

 

One final note: Hilts suggests using older clubs for this exercise rather than your new set. After all, Donald Trump probably isn't going to hire a scuba diver to fish your 3-iron out of the lake.

PGA Pros: