The first time I saw Will Zalatoris swing a golf club was at the 2014 USGA Junior Championship at Carlton Woods just outside of Houston, Texas. As a PGA Coach, I marveled at his athletic ability to swing the club on such a wide arc with a skinny frame. Well, The PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has grown up and although he’s gotten slightly bigger and stronger that magic move of his hasn’t changed.
At first glance, it’s tough to grasp what makes Will’s move so impressive. He still has a very slight build and doesn’t have a long backswing.
This weekend as we watch the Fortinet Championship unfold, pay special attention to Zalatoris’ body and not his club. Will’s power and consistency come from a very deliberate turning motion. Yes, his rotation is that of a young athletic man, but there’s an extremely valuable lesson we can all take away from him. Try this at home, all you need is a club and a balloon.
Grab a short iron. A pitching wedge or 9-iron will do.
Blow up the balloon just big enough to fit between your forearms. Here’s a hint, don’t tie off the balloon too tight until you get the right size. It should be just big enough to rest between the arms and stay there with a little pressure. If it’s too big it will push the arms apart, too small and it falls out.
With the balloon between your forearms, take your stance and address an imaginary ball.
Start your backswing by turning your lead shoulder down and toward the ball. Keep that balloon in place and continuing turning until your back is facing the target. Depending on your flexibility, you may have to lift your lead heel off the ground and that’s okay.
Make sure as you turn away to keep those arms outstretched and the balloon in place.
This is the key to the drill and Will’s swing. Try to create as much reach or width as you can in your backswing by turning. Be careful not to sway, believe it or not if you don’t turn properly your arms will separate and the balloon will drop out. Keep the arms in a perfect V and allow yourself to turn.
Take the club as far back as you can by turning. The balloon should remain in place the entire backswing.
Now begin your transition by turning the back toward the target. Don’t move the arms yet, just turn.
You will feel a slight pull from the club lagging behind your turn toward the ball. Again, keep that balloon in place.
Bring the arms through impact with the balloon between them and follow through by pointing them outstretched and toward the target.
This demonstration will quickly engage your golf brain and show you how this amazing young man hits the ball with so much control.
Your backswing will shorten, but your contact will instantly improve. Keep training at home with your balloon. Practice this move every day and you will soon be able to coordinate your arms with a very reliable turn in your golf swing. It may not make you Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour, but it will certainly lower your scores and ultimately that handicap.
Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders provide him with a unique perspective on the game. He's a writer on PGA.com and host of the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoons at 3:00pm EDT. Check out his PGA Coaching articles archived here or his conversations on air with this link to his website The ProShow.
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