I’m on the Web .com Tour and have my eye on a PGA Tour card, but I’m still practising fundamentals that began when I started working with my swing coach, Alex Murray, in the eighth grade. Namely, I’m trying to set up in the proper hitting angle. Alex’s theory is that to be in the correct position at impact, you should start in a very similar position at address. It makes it easier to maintain those angles when you swing.
I start with the left side of my torso set higher than the right (above), but I don’t put too much weight on my back foot. Instead, I focus on my left side, making sure the shoelaces, calf, quad and shoulder are all in a straight line. I also set the left side of my temple over the ball. To be clear, I’m not stacking all my weight on my front leg. I’m just putting enough weight forward to create a reverse-K look to my body at address.
This setup helps me eliminate unwanted body movement in the backswing – no big sway away from the ball – and allows me to create lateral force towards the target as I start down. Lateral force is so important. You see it in a lot of sports – hitting a tennis ball, throwing a football or a baseball, etc. Those athletes generate power starting with the side of their bodies closest to the target higher than the other side. You never see the opposite. You can’t perform that way.
So that’s why I spend so much time working on setup. Below are some drills I do to groove good positions and make my ball-striking better. They’re things you can do to improve, too. Let me show you how.
— with E. Michael Johnson
Get down for better control
I like to practise hitting driver from my knees. It’s a lot of fun and surprisingly useful when it comes to getting the hands in the proper place in the backswing – not too low, too far away from the body or too far behind it.
I like where mine are here (above). It’s also a great drill to work on solid contact. If your body dips or sways or makes any excessive movement, you’ll miss the ball.
Note how my left side stays high (above). If you feel like your left ear is higher than your right during the swing, you can hit it solid.
Drop back for stability
I hit a lot of three-quarter shots during practice sessions, because any mistakes you make during the swing are exacerbated when you take speed off the shot.
An example: I hit a lot of slower shots with my right foot pulled back (above). My typical mistake is to drift away from the ball in the downswing, letting my right side take over. I don’t hit it nearly as well when that happens. But if my right foot is pulled back, I can’t drift. I feel like I’m covering the ball with my body and staying stable for a quality shot.
Wind up for a better strike
I spoke about my transition into the downswing earlier – creating lateral force – but I didn’t talk much about my backswing and what it feels like when I do it correctly. For me, It comes down to having excellent posture at the top. It’s easy after a long day of practice or the grind of a tournament week to get a little slumped over with the upper body.
I strive for a tall, athletic posture (above) that retains the hitting angles I set at address. Remember, it all comes back to good fundamentals when you set up.