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What The Pros Do
Four key thoughts from Robert Baker

Let me give you four tour proven key thoughts that will help you to make a solid, repeating swing.

Think 'Right Pocket Back'

The more flexible you are, the more likely it is that your hips rotate freely to assist you in making a good backswing.

But not everyone enjoys great flexibility, and for the average player this old Greg Norman tip gives you that stimulus to turn the hips out of the way, allowing your weight to shift across and on to the right heel, opening an avenue where the left arm can swing across the chest.

All you have to do is think 'Right Pocket Back' (RPB). This simple reminder will free up the backswing and gets you fully 'loaded' into your right side.

As the right pocket goes gradually back, the left side can enjoy the freedom to turn behind the ball. The result is a fully coiled swing that sees the club travel on the desired inside path, which sets up a nice shallow approach into the ball. Work on this and you will find that you 'trap' the ball at impact, squeezing it off the turf with the irons as the clubhead tracks the target.

Keep a level belt line for a better backswing coil, and get behind the ball

Here is another great swing thought - and one that is inter-related with that idea of turning the Right Pocket Back. Maintaining a level belt line as you turn your shoulders and upper body allows your weight to go fully on o the right heel, which gives you more time to fully wind and unwind your swing for maximum clubhead speed.

There's nothing worse than seeing a golfer with a short, quick swing which chops down on the ball. And the last thing you want is a tilted belt line, like this above, where the right hip/right pocket is very high and the weight hangs on the left side.

From here you are clearly on track to deliver too much of a downward chopping motion on the ball. You can go a long way towards eliminating that problem if you focus on keeping your belt line level and simply get your weight on to your right heel as you complete your backswing. Having negotiated the 'settle' at the start of the downswing, you can move into the ball and into your left side as you unwind.

Work on this in tandem with the Right Pocket Back idea, and with a little practice you will enjoy a much more efficient swing, one that generates more power and allows you to sweep the ball off the turf (as opposed to digging down into it).

Shorten your backswing for greater control, consistency

Here is a typical example of a backswing that is too long, the right arm having folded to such an extent that the club has collapsed way past the parallel. The root cause of this is usually that the body stops turning in the backswing while the arms and the club continue to go that extra distance. Clearly, it's very difficult to properly synchronise your arm and body motion from here.

Basically, this sloppy-looking swing makes it difficult to get the right elbow in front of your body on the way back down, a key move that drops the grip-end of the club into what we term a good 'lag' position. When you get it this far past the parallel at the top, the momentum of the club is simply out of sync with the body, to the extent that you then end up playing 'catch up' on the way back to the ball, with little hope of doing so consistently.

As you struggle to get the right elbow (the 'fulcrum' or leverage point of your swing) in front of the right hip, the club, in most instances, will be released too early (which can lead to both fat and thin shots). If this type of problem affects you, the only way forward is to work on shortening the backswing to create the box-type look that you see here (both in the throwing exercise, and in Ernie's full swing).

Look at Ernie Els as he makes his backswing with a driver. Compact, poised and controlled. This is about as far as any amateur needs to take the backswing. Look to create this box shape with the right arm, forming a 90-degree angle between the forearm and the clubshaft, the right elbow being to the side of your body. You will then find dropping your arms back down in front of the body a whole lot easier, which will give you greater freedom to release the club through the ball.

The throwing action can also help. It's simply another good way to experience where your right arm should be. The right pocket goes back, your belt line remains level and the right arm is at a 90-degree angle at the top of the swing. The weight has gone into the right heel, left shoulder over right knee. No sloppiness at all.

The 'synchronisation' of arms and body is the ultimate goal

One of the key phrases that I use in my teaching is that 'the wheel moves the spokes'. In other words, the shoulders control the arms during the swing. And a great way to develop your sense of this 'togetherness', or harmony, in your swing is to get yourself a hoola-hoop and practise the drill you see here on the left. Immediately it will teach you how to blend the shoulder turn with the arm swing to make a synchronised movement to the top, one that sees the arms and shoulders complete the backswing together (which enhances the chances of them coming down together).

In tandem with this exercise I also recommend the medicine ball drill. This is a terrific way of building up the strength of your body 'centre' in the swing, gathering up steam as you learn to rotate your trunk back and forth (the momentum of which is then transferred down through the clubshaft via centrifugal force in the swing itself).

The idea is that as you build up speed with the body, the wrists 'snap' as you ultimately release the clubhead into the ball. The arms are swinging down in front of the body, and as you clear the hips through impact, your whole right side can enjoy ripping through the shot. This is perfectly illustrated here by Ernie as he launches into a driver. The arms have dropped down, the ankles have rolled, the knees have shifted, and now with the right elbow in front of the right hip, he can release the wrists and let the right hip kick in to square the clubface at impact.




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