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Matter of Timing

Terry Rowles

Identifying some of the elements common in the swings of some of the world's best golfers - and copying them - is a sure way to synchronise your own motion for more power and less effort.

The concept of 'timing' in relation to the golf swing is something that is difficult to communicate (particularly to someone new to the game), and yet it's very obvious when a player witnesses at first hand the effortless power that good players seem able to generate with a smooth, flowing swing.

To grasp exactly what good timing involves, you have to understand how three key moving parts in the swing work in relation to one another - the three specific points of reference being the clubhead, the hands and the torso.

Once these elements are assembled in order at the set-up, the key is that they travel in the same general direction but at varying speeds in order to create an efficient swing and deliver the clubhead squarely to the ball at impact.

The Grip - A Good Swing Hinges on it

No matter how good your body action may be, unless you have a grip that allows the wrists to hinge freely you will never fully enjoy the sensation of swinging the clubhead and generating the speeds of which you are capable.

One of the biggest faults among amateur players is running the grip too high in the palm of the hand which effectively destroys its mobility, so check the position of your left hand. When you practise, hold the club at this 45-degree angle in readiness to fit the left hand.

This makes it easier to run the grip diagonally through the first joint on the forefinger all the way through to a point just below the base of the little finger.

With the hand correctly in position, you should then find that you are able to support the club with your fingers curled. When it comes to making your swing, the left will hinge naturally, allowing you to create a flowing motion

Drills for a better motion

For high-handicappers, a lack of timing is usually the result of a lack of differential in the speeds between the club, hands and body. Typically, the movement is too jerky and has no 'core' balance. This is normally due to an excess of tension and a desire to over-use the hands and hit 'at' the ball. To replace this with a free-wheeling motion, try the following drills:

Narrow stance drill

With a 7- or 8-iron, stand with your feet something like four to five inches apart and hit some shots. The secret to this exercise is that you concentrate on allowing the clubhead to swing freely, your feet 'quiet' throughout for balance.

Two-club flow drill

Take two clubs of similar length (i.e. 5- and 6-iron) and, with a good set-up, grip them as normally as possible. To start, extend the clubhead's a few feet into the follow-through, then let them fall and use their momentum to help you on your way to a full backswing and finish.

Closed-stance drill

Once you have created a good athletic posture at the set-up you want your legs to remain fairly stable in the course of making your swing. The flex in the right knee and thigh is retained to provide resistance on the way back and then contains the dynamic of your swing through the transition before adding to the thrust and momentum of the release through the ball. Hitting balls from a closed stance -illustrated here by one of the game's great ball-strikers, Nick Price - can seriously help to give you the sensation of a 'quiet' lower body and thus highlight the winding and unwinding of the torso. Give all these drills a go next time you play and see if better timing doesn't help you to hit more solid shots.

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Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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