SLAM DUNK

SHOOT LOW SCORES, HAVE MORE FUN - BY RICKIE FOWLER

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Front Page - BY RICKIE FOWLER 2015 PLAY­ERS CHAM­PION

TAKE­AWAY: TURN THE TOE UP

▶ In my old take­away, the club­face pointed at the ball for too long. There was this ini­tial ten­sion as my shoul­ders turned early while the club slowly dragged back, putting the club­face in a shut po­si­tion. To fix this, my slow-mo­tion re­hearsal thought was, The toe of the club makes the first move.

When the toe ro­tates up to begin the swing, it syncs my wrist hinge with my shoul­der turn right from the start. An­other way to think of this is, the fore­arms make the first move: They ro­tate un­til the toe points to the sky ( inset). It’s a mat­ter of pref­er­ence. Ei­ther thought works equally well and pro­duces a re­ally fluid take­away.

Here’s the most im­por­tant drill I prac­tised: I stop my take­away when the club gets par­al­lel with the ground. At that point, I check that the shaft falls per­fectly along my toe line ( be­low). This means that from my view, the butt of the club is on the tip of my right shoe and points at my tar­get. It means I’m “on plane.” This drill gave me so much con­fi­dence that I made it my wag­gle. I re­hearse it once with smooth rhythm, re­turn the club to ad­dress, then swing.

An­other thing Butch and I worked on: At ad­dress, keep your chin off your neck. Stand­ing tall with a proud chin cre­ates room for the shoul­ders to turn back and through.

‘I CHECK THAT THE SHAFT FALLS PER­FECTLY ALONG MY TOE LINE.’

THE FEEL FOR ME IS, I’M HOLD­ING AN UM­BRELLA ON MY BACK­SWING.’

BACK­SWING: STAY CON­NECTED

▶ I used to suf­fer the same ten­dency that af­fects a lot of am­a­teurs: My arms kept go­ing back af­ter I com­pleted my shoul­der turn. When the arms get dis­con­nected from the trunk mus­cles like this, the club goes past par­al­lel and can cause a bunch of is­sues. The grip might bounce around in your hands, and you’re go­ing to have to find a way to re-sync your arms with your chest on the down­swing. If you don’t sync them, you end up flip­ping your wrists at the ball to save the shot.

So to keep ev­ery­thing uni­fied go­ing back, my slow-mo­tion re­hearsal thought was, I’m

hold­ing an um­brella on my back­swing. As in, I stop go­ing back the mo­ment I feel the shaft points straight up and down like an um­brella ( above). In re­al­ity, the club trav­els much fur­ther. But this is what I, and the other over-swingers out there, need to feel to de­liver the club to a clas­sic po­si­tion at the top with the shaft par­al­lel to the ground ( inset).

At the be­gin­ning, when the um­brella thought wasn’t al­ways work­ing, Butch told me to pre­tend I was Steve Stricker. Strick prob­a­bly has the most quiet wrist hinge on tour. For golfers who can get overly wristy, Strick’s sim­ple, straight-arm ac­tion is an­other great im­age.

IM­PACT: ALL TO­GETHER

▶ On the down­swing, I used to hang back on my right side and throw my arms out and away from my body to hit the ball. My short irons would fly way high and on off-days go all over the place.

I men­tioned ear­lier how I want to make a full-body re­lease. This means my hands and wrists are pas­sive at im­pact. My chest cov­ers the ball, and I feel that my arms, trunk, hips and legs – just about ev­ery ounce of me ex­cept my hands and wrists – are mov­ing to­gether to re­lease the club ( inset). This tip is more psy­cho­log­i­cal than phys­i­cal. Get­ting all of your body to swing in uni­son is ac­tu­ally pretty nat­u­ral, but com­mit­ting your mind is eas­ier said than done when you’re on the course with trou­ble all around. But trust it. It’s usu­ally when we try to guide a shot that we miss it big.

As for me­chan­i­cal guid­ance, my slow-mo­tion re­hearsal thought was, Keep the club­head in line with my hands and chest past im­pact. I’d stop to check this all the time ( left). If I saw the club­head left of my hands here, it meant my wrists had bro­ken down and I flipped. I needed moves I could trust, and that’s what I have now.

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