Saturday, February 9, 2013

AT&T Swing Tips

            I had the wonderful experience of working in the pro shop at a host facility for the AT&T National Pro-Am when I worked as an Assistant Pro at Poppy Hills.  It was fun to see the celebrities and professionals as they would come in for practice rounds or just to thank the staff.  In the last couple years I tend to steer clear and watch the Pro-Am from the very best spot in the house – my couch. 
            One of the best parts about watching the Pro-Am on Saturday on TV rather than live, is getting to watch Peter Kostis analyze all the amateur swings from the 17th hole.  It’s just unique to see so many amateur golf swings analyzed, and I really think there are some key tips that come out of Peter’s analyses.  So here are the main reoccurring tips and their importance to your golf swing.

Start the Downswing with your Lower Body

            Something that Kostis keeps pointing out as a major positive is when a player starts their downswing with the lower body.  This is key to properly clearing your hips and maintaining coil for power and accuracy.  Fred Couples used to say he started his downswing with a slight movement of the left (forward) knee toward the target and that move would set the rest of the swing in motion. 
            If you’re losing power or releasing early, try focusing on starting your downswing from the ground up.  This will set your downswing into the correct sequence for maximum power and accuracy.

Hands Reach the Ball First

            If you’ve heard the term “casting” or “early release” then this tip is for you.  This is actually more of a fundamental to a good golf swing than a tip, but it is key to make sure your hands reach the golf ball first.  If your clubhead gets to the ball before your hands you’ve lost all your stored power and will likely have an angled clubface. 
            When starting your downswing, think about trying to stick the handle of the club into the ground.  If you can hold that thought and position until your hands approach the golf ball you will maintain that angle and be able to properly release the club through impact for more power and control.

Set Your Wrists Before the Top of the Backswing

            This tip ties in with the last.  You’ll notice one difference between professionals and amateurs is that they set their wrists at different times.  Professionals will set the angle about 1/2 to ¾ through their backswing and will maintain that angle until their hands reach the golf ball.  While there are a couple exceptions to the rule (Mickelson and Tiger come to mind) this early set allows the professional to fully coil at the top and hold the angle until the release.
            Amateurs on the other hand, tend not to set their wrists until they reach the top of the swing.  The beginning of the downswing will actually increase that angle and the position can look really solid at that moment.  The problem is that the late set and transition tends to act like a springboard and the club will start an early release and lose all that stored power.  If you manage to maintain the angle in this fashion you will have a lot of power, but it’s extremely difficult to do.
            If you’re having trouble setting your wrists early, try setting your hands for a ¾ swing while making your full turn.   This will set your wrists at the ¾ mark and allow you to better maintain that angle to create more power and control.

            As an update for everyone, it’s been a quiet Rules week.  My journey to Golf House for USGA/PGA Rules School was canceled thanks to winter storm Nemo.  I will be rescheduling and will do a day-by-day Rules lesson blog when I do go.  Next weekend, however, is my first championship assignment of the year at the Peg Barnard Invitational at Stanford University Golf Course.  I will bring any Rules news or interesting happenings from each day.

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