Friday, April 1, 2011

Teaching Tip - Proper Impact Position

A very high percentage of golf students that I consult with for the first time do not know what proper impact position looks like. The unfortunate part about this is that many of these same folks have been playing without this critical information for many years. When I see a student with this type of problem, the very first thing we do is discuss good vs. poor impact position, and why it is so important.

Left Photo:
The player in this photo shows good position of the hands at the moment of impact. The grip of the club is leaning forward toward the target. The left wrist is flat and the right wrist maintains a bend. This bent right wrist will allow the club to strike the ball first and the ground second. It is also very important to turn the body towards the target and shift weight to the outside of the left ankle at the beginning of the downswing -- the correct wrist position would be difficult to maintain if both of these things did not take place, as well.

Right Photo:
The player in this photo shows poor impact position. We can clearly see how the player's left wrist is bent and the right is straight -- the complete opposite of the left photo. The club has bottomed out too early, which means that the head of the club hit the ground before it hit the ball. The reason most players bottom out early is because they are not properly turning and shifting their weight to their left foot. In most cases, they are swinging too hard from the top. In this photo, the player has hit so far behind the ball that his shot would likely not have gone very far.

In order to compensate from a club grounding behind the ball, most players will straighten up and hinge their wrists on the downswing, actions which will create a "sweep" or "scoop" reaction at the point of impact. Because of this, many players will label themselves as "sweepers" of the golf ball, when in fact their problem is poor impact position. Poor impact position allows for a very small margin for error, most especially from tighter lies and fairways.

The percentage of ALL players that have poor impact position is extremely high - I would venture to say that 9 out of 10 players I see at the range are making the same mistake!

Glenn C. Phillips, PGA

Teaching Professional
Falls Road G.C. & Learning Center

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