When it mattered the most – over 36 holes of weekend Major championship pressure – Francesco Molinari didn’t make a mistake. Not only did the 35-year-old Italian go bogey-free for the weekend, he also played exquisitely on Sunday in what was unquestionably the toughest pairing at Carnoustie. Whether playing partner Tiger Woods was surging or struggling – and the waves each sent through the group’s gigantic gallery – Molinari kept making his brisk, simple swing and producing one baby draw after another.
The old golf teaching adage goes that you don’t hit the ball with your backswing. That’s true, but according to Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Michael Jacobs, Molinari dramatically improves his chances of hitting solid, predictable shots because he gets his club in such a “clean” position at the top.
“His left forearm is above his right armpit, and the grip of the club is directly over his right shoulder,” says Jacobs, who is based at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club in Manorville, New York. “This a great position to send the club on the most efficient route to the ball, and, just as importantly, he isn’t doing it by muscling or directing the club into a stiff, frozen position, like he’s trying to match a picture. His shoulders are relaxed, and his shoulder blades aren’t pulled out or contorted.”
The downswing problems many weekend players fight come almost as an automatic extension of a bad top-of-backswing position, says Jacobs. “If your left arm doesn’t rise into that more lifted position and goes more flat and behind you, the club will have to get a lot steeper on the way down to get your arm back in front of you to actually hit the ball,” says Jacobs. “What do most slicers look like? In the photo above, you wouldn’t even see the left arm. As a result, they’re way too steep and they swing across the ball. Molinari does the opposite. He can start his downswing with his lower body and let his upper body and club follow because he has his arms in the perfect position. He has the time and space to accelerate each element at the right time without having to untie a knot first.”
You can practise this improved relationship between your left arm and right shoulder right from your office chair, says Jacobs. The key? Keep your shoulder joints relaxed and let your left arm move up the front of your chest so that your hands are above your right shoulder.
“Now you aren’t fighting against yourself on the downswing,” he says.