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Looking for a Better Turn? Be a Bulldog

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

It has been a good week so far for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Starting on Monday with their third football National Championship over their archrivals Alabama and closing the week with a 3 shot lead on the PGA Tour. Yes, Russell Henley is a Bulldog and when you watch him play golf, in more ways than one. Friday, he closed his second round going six under par for his final six holes.
Henley must have some fond memories of the Sony Open. He started his 2013 rookie campaign by winning this very event. In those days, he was a professional putter. Even though he won, Russell knew there were other parts of his game he needed to improve upon. Fast forward nearly ten years, and now his ball striking almost eclipses his ability with the flatstick.
How does Henley hit it so pure on approach? The key we can all see is how well he turns his torso through the shot. It has been mentioned many times by PGA Coaches from here to Hawaii that turning is a vital component of an effective golf swing. In order for us all to get the proper feeling inside that will create a tremendous turn the trick is to separate our hands. Try this demonstration at home.
  1. Grab your 5-iron or matching hybrid and find a place where you can make a full swing.
    Watch those ceilings!
  2. Take your normal setup and imagine a ball on the ground.
  3. Now separate your hands on the club. Your lead hand should stay at the end of the grip,
    your trail hand should reach down and be placed on the shaft just below the grip.
  4. Start your takeaway.
What moved first? Did you break your wrists and lift the club back or did your shoulders start the backswing? Try the same sequence again. This time make sure you don’t break your wrists. Notice what must move, your torso. When our hands are connected on the club, it’s very difficult to feel how much our wrists take over the takeaway. Once we separate our hands feeling body rotation becomes more noticeable.
  1. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 above.
  2. Now as you move away and make your backswing, keep turning your body. You will feel
    a significant stretch across your back and shoulders.
  3. Make your transition and start down toward the imaginary ball.
  4. Swing through the impact zone with the hands apart. Notice the feelings in your body.
  5. Follow through to a full finish, again taking notice of the movements your entire body
    makes.
It’s a very cool feeling going through this exercise. Beyond the stretch, it really changes our perspective on how much our body needs to move in order to swing properly. Watch Russell Henley this weekend. Pay attention to his torso turning back and through each shot. This is the magic move of all great approach players. By using the larger body muscles to swing, we not only become more consistent, but more powerful as well.
Compare Russell’s move to your favorite male or female golfer. I bet their turn isn’t much different. Look for a golfer with a similar body type to yours. Watch as their body parts move in the swing. Connect what you see on television and make this demonstration into a drill. Keep working on your rotation daily for just a couple minutes. The goal is to eventually feel the same movements when you bring your hands back together on the grip. Pretty soon your turn will be the fundamental cause of playing better golf.
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