USE THIS CROSS-HANDED DRILL TO DISCOVER CONSISTENT CONTACT
ISTARTED coaching Jordan Spieth when he was 12. His swing was idiosyncratic in many ways—his shoulders were dramatically open at address, he’d flare the club inside on the takeaway, his left elbow was bent nearly 40 degrees at the top—but he produced consistent contact that allowed him to shape the ball both ways. As a young teacher, this really challenged me. If I imposed too much traditional swing philosophy on this phenom, surely I’d mess him up. For the first time, I appreciated the idea that the only position in the swing that truly matters is the bottom.
To get my students to understand impact, I often tell them to think of the swing as a large circle traced by the path of the clubhead. On a perfect strike with an iron, the bottom of this circle occurs after the ball is struck. That’ll make a perfect divot. An effective drill to achieve this is to grip the club cross-handed and hit punch shots. That means for right-handers, the left hand is beneath the right as you see here (large photo, above). Swinging cross-handed can be strenuous on the shoulders, so start with 30-yard punches. If you’re flexible, you can work your way to full swings with any iron. You can even use plastic balls in the yard if your course is closed. Like magic, this drill cures two common swing problems: a premature release and getting stuck. I’ll explain how.
Most amateurs go wrong by reaching the bottom of their swing too early. This premature release, also called casting, leads to chunks and tops. Golfers with this issue need to get the shaft leaning forward at impact—the hands slightly ahead of the ball—to shift the bottom of their swing circle forward. When golfers practice with the cross-handed grip, the top hand has a tendency to push the handle toward the target, creating this desired impact position. Remember this feeling when you go back to your normal grip.
A problem more typical of better players is getting stuck, when the hips unwind so fast on the downswing that the club gets trapped behind the body instead of staying in front of it (photos, above). From here they will hit a lot of blocks to the right, or sometimes snap-hooks if they over-correct with the hands. Because the wrists are restricted with a cross-handed grip, these moves become almost impossible. The weight of the clubhead pulls it in front of the body on the downswing. Now the club is in front of the golfer at the bottom, exactly where it should be. mccormick is one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers in America.