Most golfers fail to optimize distance and accuracy because their club takes the outside-in instead of taking the inside path.
When most golfers get near the top of their backswing, their brain insists to them that they’re getting too far away from the ball, so they make the fatal adjustment of keeping the club close – meaning outside the target line – immediately serving to both weaken and misdirect the swing.
A proper golf swing takes an inside path toward the target line.
You’ve probably heard this 100 times and still find it hard to convince yourself to put into practice. When you swing correctly, your club comes inside, goes up behind your shoulders, then, as you swing down, comes from that same inside path toward the ball, moving down the line, through the impact zone and curving up behind your back again.
In other words, the golf swing doesn’t feel muscularly intuitive because it makes a circle.
The clubhead opens and then closes and is, for most of its duration, not on the target line. Hence the panic experienced by your brain and the ill-considered signals it sends you in response. Here’s a simple drill to help you solidify the instinct for an inside-path swing.
Place a 2×4 on its side an inch or two outside your ball, parallel to the target line. There are two parts of the swing that will avoid the 2×4 if you’re swinging along the correct path and that will hit if you’re not: The takeaway and the downswing.
If you make contact with the 2×4 during either part, you’re drifting outside the proper path or coming too far over the top (as opposed to around your torso). Both cause you to swing across the target line instead of along it, resulting in cross-spin being imparted to the ball and, usually, a slice.
To better understand the proper path a golf club should take, hold your 8-iron in your lead swing hand only (left hand for a rightie).
Bring it back and, without guiding it, let it swing back down. The clubhead will naturally swing open toward the ball, come through it and then close again. This is what we mean when we talk about the club releasing.
When you let the club release, you allow it to follow its natural physical motion, with the result greater strength and accuracy. You’re letting its natural power be unleashed. When the club doesn’t release, it’s because you’ve tried to keep the clubface straight as it moves through and beyond the impact zones, a counterproductive move.
A former PGA Touring pro, Doug Weaver is the Director of Instruction at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy and conducts “Where Does the Power Come From?,” a free golf clinic and demonstration, every Monday at 4 p.m. (843) 785-1138, (800) 827-3006 or palmettodunes.com.
By I.J. Schecter with Doug Weaver.