2 weeks ago, Henrik Stenson put on an amazing display of golf a couple weeks ago to win the Open Championship. In the final round, Stenson shot an amazing 63, hitting 16 out of 18 greens ( he only missed the green on the fringe when he did mind you)
Stenson’s prolific ball striking has always been the catalyst of his game, notably his strong 3 wood off the tee that carries as or further than other pro’s driver. There are several parts of Stenson’s swing that I really like but today I’d like to focus on what Stenson does at impact ,post impact and how those copying those positions will help your ball striking.
Here’s a couple of pictures I copied of Stenson
From Left to Right
Stenson at release point
still maintaining lag(left arm and the shaft position) into the release point. You can see that his belt buckle is over his left foot, indicative that his hips are open relative to the target at this stage.
Stenson at impact
Great impact alignments here. Flat left wrist, left arm and shaft are lined up, with good right side bend ofthe body, necessary for an ideal attack angle with driver(level or upward strike).
Stenson post impact
Full extension of the arms with his head released towards the target . Many amateurs who try and keep their head down too long at this stage have bent arms, with shoulders and hips still parallel with target.
Stenson at impact
Picture perfect finish.Nice tall finish with great balance here.
As you can see, I’ve highlighted in bold on the part about “keeping your head down” That phrase has unfortunately somehow someway made it’s way into the weekend golfer’s instructional handbook, much to the dismay of golf instruction.
Some of you might argue, ‘Look at some of the top pros! they keep their head down!’ In fact, if you look at Tiger in the picture I’ve posted at the bottom, yes it seems his eyes are looking at where the ball was prior to impact in image 5. But, don’t forget, these are still images and as we know, they trick the eye.If you look at Rodger Federer strike a tennis ball, it sure does look like he looks at the ball when he strikes it. But can you imagine telling him that his head has to stay still after the ball is gone? I’m pretty sure you are going to wind up with some sort of neck injury if so. That is why in image 6 below, Tiger’s head has started to rotate to the target, allowing his torso, arms and hips to rotate to the finish.
But why do we tell fellow golfers to ‘KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN?’ It seems this saying has been the antidote for all missed hits. Tops, duffs, whiffs, shanks etc. It seems the weekend golfer’s impression of missing a ball has to do with not focusing intently on the ball. If so, why do so many people still miss even though they ‘keep their head down?’
Having said all that, I hope that the blog ahead adds clarity to the old myth and on to new solutions to strike the ball better.
Steps to improve strike:
- Understand what good impact is
What is good impact? It’s interesting how many golfers have different set up positions, grips and swing planes. But despite the differences, most elite golfers return the club and body into ‘ideal positions’ at impact. What are these ideal positions?
I’m sure some of you would have come across the following instead:
This unfortunately is caused by stalling your body at impact ,focusing your eyes at striking the spot where the ball was at address. If continued my downstroke from here into the ball, I’m more than certain to whiff or top the ball. You can see that from the left to right image, my legs have not moved(right knee not moved towards left as a result of rotation) my belt buckle is still over the center of my stance and because of that, my left arm is starting to bend.
Instead I’m sure we would like to look like this:
So how do we get rid of the top look and look more like the bottom at impact and post impact?
Step 2: Practice good impact
Here’s a simple drill with an alignment stick and impact bag to practice getting into that ideal impact position.
- Combine an alignment stick or another club to form an extended club.
- Start with the extended club to the left of your body.
- Make a backswing and strike the impact bag, ensuring that you achieve a position similar to the one on the left.
- The checkpoints for that position are: Left arm and the shaft in a line,square clubface, belt buckle over left foot. Do all these while maintaining posture.
If you perform this drill incorrectly, it will look like this :
You can see that the extended shaft is now against the left side of my rib cage and my arms bent.This is a result of a lower body that has not rotated to the left ( belt buckle faces forward)
Another drill that I personally like very much is the step forward and swing drill. This drill not advocates good impact but also good pivot, sequence of motion and balance into the finish.
- Start with feet together from the top of backswing.
- Start the downswing by stepping out to your left with your left foot.
3. Step 2&3 should happen simultaneously, with your left foot stepping out, encouraging your lower body to rotate towards the left first, then followed by the torso and the finally the arms.
4. Nice balanced finished position.
I hope the 2 drills here will help you not only strike it better, but also provide a better cure for that keep your head what again?