HEN­RIK STEN­SON: DRIVE IT GREAT

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - News - By Hen­rik Sten­son

Setup and swing tips for long, straight tee shots.

My swing thoughts are al­ways chang­ing. It’s just the na­ture of the game. New feels and im­ages oc­cur to me all the time, and they feed into each other – a small back­swing thought will lead to a new sen­sa­tion at the top, which will cre­ate a dif­fer­ent feel com­ing down. But they’re mi­nor. The ba­sics of my swing, which I’ve worked on with Pete Cowen since 2001, haven’t changed. There’s al­ways room for im­prove­ment, but my dis­tance and ac­cu­racy have been an as­set. I ranked sec­ond on the PGA Tour last year in to­tal driv­ing, and I’m first this year, so no big changes com­ing up.

For me, good driv­ing tech­nique starts with the lower body at ad­dress. A nice, wide stance, with my feet just out­side shoul­der width, gives me sta­bil­ity and lever­age. The sen­sa­tion is that I’m hold­ing onto the ground. I bend from my hips, never stoop­ing at the waist, and my weight is on the balls of my feet. I’m en­gaged and ready to move, like a soc­cer goalie.

My back­swing hap­pens from the ground up, start­ing with a shift to my right side, fol­lowed by the ro­ta­tion of my hips, then my shoul­ders. All the while I’m main­tain­ing that hold-the-ground feel­ing with my feet and legs. The down­swing also is from the ground up, ini­ti­ated by a lit­tle shift back to my left side and a pic­ture in my mind that I’m work­ing down and around with my legs and hips. I don’t want a quick hip turn – no snap­ping ac­tion – just a steady un­coil­ing.

An­other good driv­ing cue for me is to keep my arms in front of my chest. I don’t want them lag­ging be­hind as I turn through, and I sure don’t want them flail­ing out and away from me. If you keep your arms in front, you’ll have a sen­sa­tion of swing­ing “un­derneath your­self.” Your arms and the club will seem like they’re trav­el­ling down a chan­nel as they drop from the top and track through the ball. The idea is to be so solid right be­fore im­pact that the hit it­self just hap­pens. I like to feel that my left hand and arm are guid­ing the mo­tion through im­pact. Avoid any feel­ing of flick­ing at the ball with your right hand.

When my arms move in sync with my up­per body com­ing down, the ball starts on the cor­rect line, or very close to it. That’s a huge con­fi­dence-builder. If your drives are start­ing to the right or left, you need cur­va­ture to bring them back into play. But if you start the ball straight, it has to curve a lot to put you in the trees.

MY LEFT HAND AND ARM ARE GUID­ING THE MO­TION THROUGH IM­PACT. AVOID ANY FEEL­ING OF FLICK­ING AT THE BALL WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND.

NO 1 PLAYER IN TO­TAL DRIV­ING ON THE 2015 PGA TOUR.

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