Golf Digest (Malaysia) - - Winterize Your Game - BY CAMERON MCCORMICK

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.

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