There is no better title to reel a golfer into an article. Every golfer is looking for the “secret” in an effort to improve. Golfers are looking for that one swing thought or one tip that takes their game to the next level.
I believe there is a so-called “secret,” but just because there is a secret does not mean you will be on tour next week. With golf, nothing is that simple. I do not know if “secret” is the right word. However, all professional golfers have only one thing in common.
The PGA Tour professionals all have their hands in front of the club head at impact or when the club head meets the golf ball. The average golfer has their hands behind the club head at impact. Why is this idea not simple? Many variables go into having the hands in front of the club head at impact. If you want to become a better golfer the hands must be ahead of the club head at impact, slightly ahead to be more specific. Hands ahead at impact is a result of a golfer having proper balance, swing technique, physical agility and stability.
Impact is everything. If you question that statement, look and Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods swing. It does not matter how you get impact. In the examples mentioned, we will assume you are hitting a 7-iron from the fairway, and you are right handed.
To have the hands ahead of the club head at impact, three principles must be achieved. First, 80 percent of your weight must be on your left side at impact. Second, the center of your torso must be even with the golf ball or slightly ahead, as seen in the “YES” portion of the picture exhibited. Even though the torso has a right tilt, the lower body and balance has shifted to the left. This allows the torso to be over the golf ball even with a right tilt.
Most golfers have more weight on the right foot at impact and the center of their torso behind the ball. An example is seen in the “NO” picture exhibited. The arms are simply not long enough to get the hands in front of the club head at impact in the “NO” position. This undesired position is usually caused by trying to lift the golf ball in the air. This position causes the golfer to bottom out the club head behind the ball. The club head hits into the ground behind the ball, a so-called “fat shot.” Also, the club head can miss the ground when bottoming out and then ascends before impact of the golf ball. The club head will impact the middle or top of the golf ball, which causes so-called “thin” and “topped” shots.
The third principle is that the body must be rotating before, during and after impact. A typical PGA Tour professional has 42 degrees of hip rotation at impact. The typical amateur has 10 degrees of hip rotation at impact. If the body does not have constant body rotation on the downswing, the golf club handle and hands have no were to go after impact. The club handle and hands have to exit left after impact.
Think about it this way. Take a backswing, and then take a downswing that stops half. If your body stops moving what is going to hit the ball. The only way to hit the golf ball is for the club head to be thrown at the ball. This action is common in golfers. “What if I cannot rotate like a PGA Tour player?” As long as you keep the body moving to the best of your body’s capabilities, it will help keep the hands ahead at impact.
If you accomplish these three tasks, 80 percent of the weight on the left foot, torso over the ball or slightly ahead of the ball, and body rotating at impact, there is a really good chance that the hands are going to be ahead of the club head.
My first goal in fixing or correcting a student is getting them to make solid contact. If a player makes solid contact, we can move forward in the teaching process because I can evaluate their ball flight tendencies. If a player has their hands behind the club head at impact, solid contact cannot be achieved consistently.
If you achieve getting the hands ahead of the club head at impact, you are reducing the loft of the clubface, and the golf ball will go farther. Who does not want to hit the golf ball father? Having the hands ahead at impact is even more important when hitting chip and pitch shots, and all principles are the same. Are the hands ahead when hitting a driver? Yes, but not much. The ball position changes when hitting a driver so the hands will barely be ahead of the club head at impact. However, the same principles are true when hitting a driver.
Go see your local PGA professional to find out where your hands are during impact.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”