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Mimicking Tony Finau’s Lean Can Go a Long Way Toward Accuracy

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Tony Finau of team United States interacts with the crowd on the ninth green during Friday Afternoon Fourball Matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 24, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Tony Finau turned in an epic Ryder Cup iron performance this afternoon on the shores of Lake Michigan. He scored eight 3’s through just 13 holes. By the time the match was over 5 & 3, Finau had 6 birdies and added another win to his impressive young Ryder Cup resume. Whether you are tall and lean, male or female, or young or old, we can all copy Finau’s impact position to increase our accuracy on the course.
Take a good look at Tony’s move. He has a short backswing and aggressive transition back toward the ball. A multi-sport athlete throughout his formative years, Finau uses his athleticism and “feel” to compress the ball thus controlling the direction. If you want to become a better iron player it’s easy to follow Tony’s formula for success, you just have to create a little lean.
By lean, you must strike the ball with your handle ahead at impact. To ingrain this feeling into your impact position, try to copy Finau’s first little move.
Before each shot, Tony Finau has a unique waggle. He takes the club back and creates a very precise angle between the shaft and his wrists. That angle gives him a feeling he will recreate in his swing while he is striking the ball. This is a valuable lesson we can all learn from Tony’s terrific ball striking.
Your waggle doesn’t have to be complicated. The next time you visit the practice range, insert a little shaft lean toward the target before you start the club back. Grab an eight iron and follow these specific steps.
  1. Take your normal address position.
  2. Press the handle straight down the target line, getting the grip just 1 to 2 inches ahead of the ball.
  3. Once you reach that point, immediately start taking the club back, but keep that shaft angle you just created intact.  
  4. Complete the backswing and transition back toward impact.
  5. Recreate the forward press feeling when you strike the ball by continuing to feel that angle you created in the pre-shot press.  
  6. Once through impact, release that angle and the club into a full follow-through.
To create compression, we need to feel the clubface cover the ball at impact. Don’t manufacture a scooping motion to lift the ball into the air. Rather, get that shaft leaning forward and swinging aggressively and the club’s true loft will flight the ball up and toward the target.
Once you feel compression at impact, you’ll quickly realize why Tony is always smiling on the course. Having the handle ahead at the moment of impact creates a much more solid hit (power) and drives the ball toward your target (accuracy).
Once you get used to the pre-shot steps listed above, start to adopt your own signature start to the swing. As mentioned, Tony uses a waggle to feel that shaft angle at impact. For some, it is a forward press. Every golfer’s swing is different. Experiment with a variety of pre-swing moves on the practice range. Find one that compliments your swing and personality. After all, Tony’s waggle fits his on-course swagger. Just make sure it gives you that desired feeling which creates match-winning results.

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