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Work This Way
Keith Williams

Try these drills for better Alignment, Rhythm, Driving & Clubhead Control.

Feel the fingers and improve the rhythm and flow of your swing

First up, a drill that not only promotes the correct grip pressure in your fingers but one that encourages you to swing the club with an enhanced sense of rhythm, timing and balance. Not bad for starters.

The key pressure points in the grip are the last three fingers of the left hand and the middle two on the right. Squeezing gently with these fingers enables you to maintain a controlled amount of pressure during the swing (yet at the same time leaving the hands and arms relaxed).

The remaining fingers and the thumb provide the support for these pressure fingers.
To start this drill, grip the club with just these fingers on the shaft. Then try to make a few easy practice swings, initially with a three-quarter length movement. Hit a few shots with a mid-iron. If you find that you have to strain to hold on to the club, you are swinging too hard.

As you learn to make a flowing swing and control the motion of the clubhead, you will be improving the general co¬ordination and the rhythm of your swing, which in turn will improve the quality and the consistency of your ball striking.

Check your flight path

This alignment tip is ideal for golfers of all abilities. As a prop, you'll need an old golf shaft (or a cane) set in the ground a few feet ahead of the ball, angled towards your target. As you then hit balls, focusing on the shaft enables you to check the alignment of the clubface at address, and serves as a good ball-flight indicator as you study each shot.

Clearly, by observing the initial flight and subsequent trajectory of each shot, you will learn a great deal about the line of your swing. For instance, a ball that starts left of the target before turning back towards it (or even to the right) indicates a slicing action - i.e. an out-to-in swing path, the clubface open to that path at impact.

A ball starting right of the shaft before spinning to the left - i.e. with draw or hook-spin - tells you that your swing has travelled from in-to-out through impact, and that the clubface is closed in relation to that path.

With this in mind, practise trying to get the ball to start over the shaft with a straight flight towards the target. The better you can get at this, the more accurate your approach shots will be on the course.

Driving: brush the ball away for better width in your backswing

Good drivers of the ball create and then maintain width throughout their swing. And it all starts with the first move, keeping the club low and wide away from the ball. This drill will similarly help you to get your swing started on track.

By teeing a second ball about 15 inches behind the one you intend to hit (but positioned on a path that is slightly inside the original), you create a situation that forces you to focus on making a smooth and shallow start to the backswing. The object of the exercise is to gently brush away the rear ball as you glide the clubhead back.

Rehearsing this drill will help you to achieve good width at the start of your swing, and reward you with the proper co¬ordination of the turning components of your swing as you continue your wind up. It also encourages you to shift your weight across on to the right side, which is vital in terms of getting behind the ball with a full turn and coil.

Let the gate be your guide for better impact

This impact drill is not as easy as it first appears, but practised regularly it will surely improve your ball-striking.

As I have done, create a 'gate' by placing two tee-pegs either side of the clubhead. (To begin with, leave about an inch to spare on either side.) Then hit a few shots, aiming to swing the clubhead clean through the gate. Don't try to guide or steer the club; instead, concentrate on swinging freely, using the tee-pegs to help you focus on returning the clubface squarely through impact towards the target.

You may find this intimidating to begin with, but should the clubhead come into contact with either of the tee-pegs, you will at least get some excellent feedback in terms of the line of your swing and the quality of your impact position. For example, if you should dislodge the inner peg, you will know that your swing is delivering the clubhead too much from in-to-out; if you strike the outer peg, the club is travelling too much from out-to-in.

Use this information to help you work on improving the shape and the line of your swing until you can release the club and strike the ball without touching the gate.
Naturally, the closer the tee-pegs are placed together, the tougher it is to swing between them. It's up to you to find out just how accurate you can be.

Spot the ball

In this drill, aiming to strike a black dot painted on the back of the ball will help you to feel and recognise the different swing paths that we associate with shaping the ball, either with left-to-right spin (i.e. fade) or right-to-left spin (draw).

First, though, the neutral swing that produces a straight shot. For this you should place the ball on the tee so that the dot is presented dead centre, begging you to strike it squarely. A relatively straight ball flight would be the expected outcome.

TO DRAW To encourage the in-to-out swing path that produces right-to-left spin, place the ball on the tee so that the dot is on the inside and lower quadrant of the ball. To strike the dot now requires that the clubface travels along a distinctly inside track - just what you want in order to produce a draw (or, in the extreme, a hook).

TO FADE By contrast, to fade the ball you must encourage a swing that sees the clubhead approach the ball on a slightly out-to-in path. To work on this, place the ball on the tee so that the dot is on the outside and upper quadrant of the ball. Clearly, to strike the dot the clubface must now approach the ball at a steepish angle and from out-to-in - as it should to play a fade (or, if accentuated, a slice).

The beauty of this sort of visualisation drill is that it can help you to eliminate faults. For example, if you are an habitual slicer of the ball, spend some time hitting shots with the dot in the draw-shape position. Counteract your fault. Visualise the clubhead approaching the ball from the inside and release your right hand to get it spinning from right-to-left.
If you are prone to hooking the ball, do the opposite. Place the ball on the tee so that the dot is in the fade position and work on steepening your angle of attack to get the ball moving from left-to-right.

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