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Bend it Like Beckham
Mark Carey

With apologies to the England footballer, I think you'll agree that the general impression given as I make my run-up and kick the ball suggests that I am going to hit a driving shot with right-to-left spin. I approach the ball "from the inside (just as you must with a golf club), my body remains behind the ball at impact, while the right leg fully releases through impact to produce that powerful spin. Very David Beckham.

But before anyone thinks about signing me up for the new season, let me point out that these text-book footballing skills are revealed here in the hope that they might help you to visualise the skills necessary to cultivate a draw with the driver.

There are one or two specific details regarding the grip and the set-up that you obviously need to be aware of (and I will explain these in a moment), but, above all I want to impress upon you the body language that says 'draw'.

Once you are able to visualise this and see the shape of the shot in your mind' you can translate that thought process into a motion that gathers and collects the ball with right-to-left spin.

OK, let's head for the tee.

Weak left hand grip leads to an open clubface

Before we look at the set-up and the swing itself, you first have to understand the nature of the relationship between your grip and the clubface. Basically, when you swing at full speed, the hands always want to return to what we term a 'neutral' position at impact. It stands to reason, therefore, that if you start with a weak grip (i.e. with your left hand turned too far to the left, with barely a knuckle showing, and the right hand too much on top of the grip) you run a risk of opening the clubface through impact . The result? Weak, high shots that go right.

What do you see?

If this is your view looking down on your regular grip (left), you need to change it

Fix - Strengthen your left hand

To solve the problem, make sure first of all that you grip the club low in the fingers of the left hand, and that with the fingers closed you can see of least two and a half knuckles (three is acceptable) on the back of your left hand. Then, to complete your grip, bring the right hand in from the inside, so that it fits nicely under the grip (you don't want the right hand to be in a dominant position on top).

When you look down upon your grip, this is what you want to see: the left wrist is nicely cupped, with those two or three knuckles showing. The right hand is comfortably placed, the forefinger crooked under the (and slightly separated from the middle finger), the V pointing up between your chin and right shoulder. Finally, keep your grip pressure nice and soft, relaxing both arms and upper body.

Any grip change feels awkward, but it's absolutely vital that you persevere with this adjustment if you want to hit straighter and longer shots. With your hands in this stronger position, you will find that they are encouraged to release (the right hand turning over the left) through and beyond impact, as they must in order for you to strike the ball with draw spin.

Posture: Feel athletic, just like a goalkeeper

Another football analogy can help you to develop a better posture. Imagine you're a goalie waiting to save a penalty. How would you stand? Flat footed, back on your heels? No. You would be poised, with a springiness in your knees and thighs, weight balanced on the balls of your feet, ready to pounce left or right. And that's exactly how you want to feel as you set up to a drive.

Pretend you're a goalie, create that springiness in your lower body and feel ready to make an athletic movement. Stand tall, then flex the knees to create a suspension in the lower body. Perhaps not as much knee-flex as a goalie, but similar spine angle and perfect balance. This is what gives you a dynamic foundation on which to swing and get maximum speed.

Where's it all going? Widen your target area and encourage your body to rotate

The final element to consider is your alignment - and I'm not only talking about the way you aim your body, but your actual position on the tee. This is key: any time you want to hit a draw, play from the extreme left side of the teeing area. That way you have the full width of fairway to play with - thus you have maximised your target area.

To further emphasize your desire to draw the ball, aim down the right side of the fairway, your feet, hips and shoulders aligned parallel to the line upon which you intend to start the ball.

From here you are ready to pull the trigger. Visualise the ball sailing with that right-to-left shape, and just let it go. Swing along the line of your toes and commit yourself to completing both backswing and through-swing. Let the ball get in the way as you release the clubhead.

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Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine





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