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Following a terrific amateur career, 25-year-old Danielle Masters from the Chart Hills Club, in Kent, is one of up and coming young stars on the Ladies European Tour. We have been working together for several years now, and the foundation of her success is built on the basic idea of building a swing that flows as a chain reaction from a good set-up position in which the quality of the body angles are paramount. Off the tee, Danielle may not be the longest of hitters, averaging around 250 yards, but she is certainly one of the straightest, and over the following pages I hope to share with you some of the lessons and ideas we work on to create a solid, repeating swing. I have always believed that the majority of amateur golfers stand to learn a lot more from the top women players than they can ever learn from the men, and there are some very pertinent lessons in here that can give every player some positives to focus on out on the course.

THINK ‘RIGHT POCKET BACK’ FOR A FULL TURN

A simple checkpoint: the zip on Danielle’s jacket top provides the easiest of references when it comes to setting the clubshaft in the ideal position at the set-up with a driver. With the ball off the left instep, we look for the shaft to run in line with the zip – i.e. the upper spine tilts gently away from the target to give Danielle the perfect posture
Being naturally more supply and flexible than men, you often see women golfers who are able to make a fairly full turn of the shoulders without the assistance of much in the way of hip turn. Impressive, certainly, but when it comes to making a good backswing movement I always like to see the hips turn to at least 30 degrees or so. This is something I have to continually remind Danielle about, as she is one of those players who is capable of turning her shoulders without moving the hips – but who makes a much better backswing when she does involve them.

As a youngster I always liked one of Greg Norman’s favourite swing thoughts ‘Right Pocket Back’. That idea of turning the right pocket out of the way in the backswing effortlessly paved the way for a full turning of the torso, which is what you need in order to get fully behind the ball and onto your right side with the longer clubs in the bag, and particularly the driver.

If you are one of those players with a lazy hip turn, have a friend grab hold of your belt loops and physically rotate you into the position – and then go after that same sensation when left to your own devices.

WHY THE HIPS MUST PLAY A ROLE IN A TRUE DYNAMIC ACTION

At first glance this position above looks pretty good – full shoulder turn, head behind the ball and so on. But because Danielle has failed to involve her hips to any real extent, she has not transferred her weight fully into her right side and as a result the recoil will not be as dynamic and powerful as it would be from the excellent position on the left. The point to appreciate is that the lower body initiates the downswing sequence from the ground up, triggering the re-rotation of the hips towards the target that generates so much of your arm and clubhead speed. And of course, in order to maximise the potential of that dynamic you must first activate the hips in the backswing.

‘WAIT FOR IT’ FROM THE TOP

The one certain way to ruin a good backswing is to rush into the downswing, to hurry the transition and to lose touch with the chain-reaction of events that characterises a flowing swing. This is where Danielle displays excellent poise and if there is a single lesson you take away from this article then take my advice and focus on this transition from backswing to downswing – rehearse it in front of a mirror and get the sensation of the left side reversing momentum and rerotating back towards the target while the right side holds back for a split-second. That’s all it takes for you to reverse the gears and give yourself the opportunity to then enjoy a sequenced unwinding of your whole body through impact (as you see Danielle demonstrating in this mini sequence below).

A sensation of the left hip re-rotating back to the target while the left shoulder holds is the key to initiating the donswing sequence

Above all, resist the temptation to throw the right shoulder forward – that is the killer move that leads to an out-to-in swingpath and a slice across the ball. Having turned and rotated fully into your right side, try to rehearse instead the sequence of movements initiated in the lower body as the left knee, left thigh and left hip work back towards the target. That automatically lowers the right side, placing the right arm and right shoulder in the perfect position from which you are then free to unwind and plant the maximum force on the back of the ball.

TRANSITION SHALLOWS PLANE

Here’s a great exercise to appreciate the sensation of shallowing out the plane of your swing via a good transition. Have a friend stand behind you and grab the clubhead at the top of the backswing. Against that resistance, you then initiate your downswing move from the ground up, and feel the power in your middle as your ‘core’ – the engine of your golf swing – rotates towards the target.

As Danielle completes here backswing I am simply holding on to the clubhead
to create a resistance

The dynamics of a good transition naturally lower the plane of the swing as the left side pulls and the right side‘holds’, the right arm and right shoulder falling into powerful hitting position

DON’T ‘FLIP’ THE HANDS THROUGH IMPACT

You will enjoy the most efficient delivery of speed with the clubface square to the path along which it is travelling

Complementing perfectly the shape and the rhythm of Danielle’s swing, the way in which she releases the club through the ball with a very passive hand action is key to her accuracy. There is no manipulation of the clubhead whatsoever through the ball – there doesn’t need to be as she maintains a neutral clubface throughout. The ball itself is ‘collected’ as she unwinds and accelerates the clubhead. There is no physical determination to hit ‘at’ the ball, rather a flowing delivery of speed. The hands will, of course, cross over naturally as Danielle continues on to a finish, somewhere at around hip-high. What you don’t ever want is a feeling of ‘flipping’ the hands through impact (as illustrated above).

DON’T STOP! TURN ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE SHOT TO A FULL, BALANCED FINISH

Full rotation of the body in the through-swing is vital to the conclusion– hips again play a leading role

Assuming the target is as 12 o’clock, with me standing at around 10 o’clock, Danielle should be able to complete her through-swing and have her upper body look straight at me

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine





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