|Your hands, wrists and arms, together with the larger muscles of your upper and lower body, produce the maximum effect on the ball - sending it farther and straighter. (Kellie Stenzel/WorldGolf.com)|
A primary concern for most women golfers I teach is that they would like to gain extra yards with each of their clubs. To do this you must use the small muscles in your hands, wrists, and arms together with the larger muscles of your upper and lower body. All of these must work together to produce the maximum effect on the ball-sending it farther and straighter.
To efficiently achieve this effect, you must pay attention to your wrist hinge, arm swing, and the coil of your body. I will give you some key pointers that will help you increase power and distance, without spending extra hours in the gym! These pointers will be helpful getting you started on the right track as we enter the new golf season.
If we start with the basic set-up, correct hand placement on the club should allow you to feel the pressure in your fingers-not your palms with the V's between your index finger and thumbs of each hand pointing in the general direction of your right shoulder. Then I have my students grip the club using "normal" grip pressure for them.
To test their grip pressure, I have them hold their club out in front of them while I pull from the shaft. Most of the time I can't pull the club from their hands-they're too tight! Keep a pressure on a scale of 1-5(1 being light) at a 3 during you your entire swing; this enables the wrists and arms to move freely through the swing maximizing power.
After we set the hands and achieve the proper grip pressure, we are now ready to start the motion of the swing by hinging the wrists and swinging the arms. Where should your wrists hinge? There's no rule, but hinging before your wrists are even with your hips can result in an up-and-down swing that loses distance.
On the other hand, cocking too late can result in "casting" the club and losing distance as well. Cock your wrists as you turn maintaining a "3" grip pressure, and extend your arms so that your chin meets your left shoulder. Let your arms swing down from the top of your swing by pulling the end of the club down through the ball-we want to swing through not hit the ball!
This is all wonderful news, but if we forget to coil or pivot we cannot shift our weight from right to left as we swing and we become "upper body swingers" losing the incredible power we can generate from our lower torso.
To generate the hip and leg action we need to make sure our take-away is as a unit. Make sure you are in an athletic set-up with your arms hanging comfortably from your shoulders, bend from the hips, knees slightly bent, make sure your rear is out, and weight is on the balls of your feet.
The left side of your body then pushes the arms with the club back so that at the top of your swing your left shoulder is over your flexed right knee and your back is facing your target. Your left heel can come off the ground, but careful to not push up and off swing center with it. I like to think of my collarbone as my swing center-everything must coil around it-not move laterally away from it. The weight at the top of your swing should feel 70-80% on your right side with the majority felt on the inside of your right heel.
This is the easy part-we just undo what we just did by pulling the arms, hips and legs down and through the ball so we end up with a full turn-hips facing the target, arms high and the weight is now 90% on the left foot with the right toe and knee falling into the left leg to maximize power!
To maximize power you must use wrists, arms and coil (pivot) to achieve more distance. The following drill will help you develop the upper body turn and wrist action: Set-up in the athletic position stated above. Then use a mid-iron and set-up with your feet together and a tee in the middle of your stance.
Swing the arms just below the waist(one quarter swing) making sure you hinge the wrists, and clip the tee out of the ground. Gradually swing higher and as you do so make sure your hips are turning and at a full swing your back faces the target. Keep clipping tees until you are consistent, then go ahead with your feet together and clip three tees and then "clip" three balls. This drill encourages hip and shoulder turn along with cocking the wrists and sending the arms in the correct position!
For the following "tricky" situations try my helpful hints:
Ball Above Feet: Make sure you choke down on the club, and widen your stance. Set-up so the ball is in the middle of your stance. The ball will fly left, so aim right of your target and finish your swing!
Ball Below Feet: Normal hand position on the grip and widen your stance. Set-up so the ball is in the center of your stance. Make an up-and-down arm swing and aim left of your target. Finish your swing!
LPGA Professional Kelly Kleckner teaches at Cherokee Ridge Golf Course in Colorado Springs, Colo. She played collegiate golf for Colorado State University, and is the founder and director of the LPGA Girls Golf Club for the area. She coaches and teaches private and semi-private lessons all year. For more information call 719-576-9176.