Connect the Club and Arms for Better Contact
By Keith Stewart, PGA
Last week’s birdiefest on the PGA Tour was fun to watch. It felt like an All-Star game of sorts. Lots of offense and very little defense. Looking ahead to the Sony Open and the start of the LPGA season next week, the successful players will have to exhibit control to be successful. The Sony Open in Hawaii has been a mainstay on the PGA Tour since 1965.
When considering what it takes to be successful there, we see two common themes.
- Players must putt well.
- Approaching the green is the most valuable ball striking statistic.
Good iron players and great putters - got it. Sounds like a pretty sound strategy for any week really. PGA Coaches are constantly helping their students, family and friends play better. The two keys above relate to bringing every player more success. When we watch the Sony Open or the LPGA season debuts next week at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in Orlando, I want you to look at the players arms when they swing.
Making great contact starts with preserving the arc in your swing. Watch these four very different players below swing the golf club. Pay specific attention to the relationship between their arms and the club shaft.
What is the first common thing you notice? The arms maintain the same relationship with the club shaft in each swing. You will see the same perpendicular relationship this week at the Sony Open. Players of all ages, abilities and skill levels can improve by learning to foster this structure in their own swing. Most look at those swings and think they cannot swing like these athletes but, you can. It’s important to understand the coaching point here.
Try this quick demonstration at home or the next time you visit the practice range.
- Take your normal address position.
- Start your takeaway and swing the club back.
- Stop when your lead arm is parallel to the ground.
- What does the club shaft look like? Is it straight up and down?
Once your lead arm is in this position, the club should be perpendicular to that arm. I want you to get the club there and continue. Your body may feel tight or restricted. That’s a normal reaction. Most players try to get the club shaft in this position by turning more. Start the demonstration over again and this time focus on what your lead arm and wrist are doing. Use that wrist to build this arm/club relationship.
Once you get a feel for that position, practice getting there without feeling restricted or deliberate.
- Take your setup.
- Swing the club back.
- Look for the shaft to be perpendicular to your lead arm when it is parallel to the ground.
In doing this, you now have established a very powerful relationship between your arms and the club.
We can use this relationship for every club other than the putter. Short and long shots will improve by maintaining this connection. The next step is to start hitting some balls from this position. Notice how consistent your swing arc has become. Test your new arm/club assembly by hitting every club in the bag. After you notice the new contact, you will begin to feel more solid in all parts of your swing.
Look again at the video link above. Notice in each follow through the arm extension. Watch for that same move this weekend at the Sony Open. You will see it often. Successful ball strikers create consistent arcs. Improve your swing this season by starting with this one simple key.