When you keep the Special-K position during your backswing, it allows your elbows to stay level near the top of your swing. This, in turn, keeps the clubface from twisting out of position. Staying in your K makes your backswing more rounded and, instead of elevating the clubhead suddenly and tearing it off of its swing arc, the clubshaft travels on the correct swing path with a gradual, power-gathering ascent of the club.
Another good learning method is to practice swinging with a shaft placed in the ground and angled to match the slant of your upper leg. You won’t be able to see the shaft while you swing, but you’ll sense that it’s there, and that will help you maintain your Special K.
Once you establish the Special K at address, your goal is to maintain it all the way through your swing until after the ball has been launched. In order to do so, you’ll have to start your swing by shifting your weight into your trailing hip so you can make a level lower body turn. If you fail to make this crucial weight transfer, your trailing hip will likely float upward and destroy your Special K.
A second key occurs as you start back down to the ball. Here, establish your front hip as the rotational center of your swing. By focusing on the right hip, you’ll better prepare it to receive your forward weight shift, and it also allows you to maintain your back leg flex through the impact area and beyond.
PGA teaching professional Dr. T.J. Tomasi is regarded as one of the top 100 instructors in America. He’s a Golf Tips Senior Instruction Editor and teaches at Nantucket Golf Club in Massachusetts.
Bonus! Tempo Training
When I watch a golfer hit a 7-iron, then a driver, he or she invariably amps up the swing speed with the longer club. Surely, the clubhead of the driver moves faster because it’s longer, but it’s because of the principles of physics, not because the golfer is swinging the club with a faster tempo.
Tempo is the total amount of time it takes to create your golf swing from beginning to end. Some players have a relatively fast tempo, like Nick Price, while others have a slower tempo, like Fred Couples. Either way is fine, as long as you keep the same tempo for each club in the bag. Golfers get into trouble when they either slow down or speed up their natural tempo.
When your tempo starts varying from club to club, the timing required to hit consistent golf shots is destroyed. That’s one reason why you feel you can hit your irons well one day, but not the woods, and vice versa. For every club in the bag, the tempo should be the same. It should take the same amount of time to make a swing with your pitching wedge as it does for the 7-iron and the driver, for example. What’s different is the speed of the clubhead. Because the driver is longer than a wedge, the clubhead moves faster throughout the swing, but if it takes two seconds to swing a wedge, it should take the same two seconds to swing the driver.
Discover your ideal tempo by making three continuous practice swings, without a ball, using a 5-iron. Make the swings in a pendulum fashion, back and through, while maintaining good balance. Then hit a teed golf ball, focusing on repeating the same tempo with a balanced finish. Perform this drill with short irons, long irons and woods as well to see if your tempo—and timing—remain constant.
Lana Ortega is a Class A LPGA member and director of instruction at the McGetrick Golf Academy in Denver, Colo. (www.mcgetrickgolf.com).
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