To hit powerful golf shots, you need to wind up the muscles in your upper body and release the stored energy at just the right time. A good way to build torque in the backswing is to feel like you turn your back to the target. If you can keep your back turned to the target as you start down, you will have the timing and the swing path needed for long, accurate shots.
Back to the Target
Marry your arm swing to your body turn on your backswing. Instructor Sean Foley says many players let their arms dominate the takeaway, which delays the pivot. To feel the marriage, he has students practice backswings with towels stretched over their chests that held in place under their armpits.
Increase your hip turn. Foley recommends a large hip turn to create a full pivot, which will get your back facing the target. To feel a full turn, he recommends a drill where you pull your rear foot back away from the target line, behind you. With that leg pulled out of the way, your hips and back can turn freely.
Turn your left shoulder over your right knee, if you are a right-handed player. Instructor Jim Suttie says a full shoulder turn, along with shifting 75 to 80 percent of your weight onto your back leg, will get your back facing the target.
Let gravity cause your arms and hands to drop at the start of the downswing while keeping your back facing the target. PGA professional Brad Brewer says the gravity drop will put your club on the proper path starting the downswing. Suttie suggests making practice swings where you let your right elbow drop back to your right side from the top of the swing without turning your shoulders.
Practice keeping your back to the target by pumping your arms up and down from the top of the backswing without uncoiling your hips and shoulders. This will train your body to respond to you arms in the early part of the downswing. Your back will remain facing the target and your arms will find the downswing slot.
Allow your lower body to shift toward the target, then rotate open as your arms drop. This will trigger the upper body to unwind with the proper timing while keeping your arms on the right path.
- Major championship winner Tom Watson uses this drill to feel his back turned toward the target. Set up to a ball. Without changing your posture, lift the club up with your arms and hands and lay it on your right shoulder. Turn your back and hips toward the target and extend your arms away from the your chest. This should put you in a solid, pivoted position. From here, you can let gravity pull your arms, and your body will rotate naturally.
- Instructor Paul Wilson warns golfers to be sure to get their weight on their back foot when they pivot. Otherwise, as they turn their back to the target, their weight will shift to their front foot, and they won’t be in position to start down properly.
David Raudenbush has more than 20 years of experience as a literacy teacher, staff developer and literacy coach. He has written for newspapers, magazines and online publications, and served as the editor of "Golfstyles New Jersey Magazine." Raudenbush holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in education.