Should I lift weights to hit longer drives?
I know a number of golfers who've injured themselves trying to lift heavy weights, and I know a few who made their chest so big it hindered their golf swing. Keith Clearwater is a prime-time example of a golfer who ruined their career lifting heavy weights. Now I am all for "getting under some iron" because everything else being equal, "strongest machine wins," but most golfers have very little time to workout. Here's how to make the most of your time and get golf-strong the right way: Work out three times a week for about six months. Then cut your lifting workout by 2/3 [studies show you can maintain 90 percent of strength if the one third you do is intense] and add Pilates, a series of exercises designed to develop core strength and overall fitness. For under $500 you can buy the Pilates equipment you need, but if you don't care to spend the cash, there are simple exercises that don't require any augmentation.
My main problem is swinging way too hard to begin my downswing -- and by too hard, I mean enough to impale a phone book. It causes fat shots, pulls, hooks, slices and toppers -- and even some forearm soreness. What's the best way to control this or start the downswing with correct tempo? When I watch pros swing and see how their club-to-wrist angle gets tighter as they approach the ball I say, "Why can't I do that?"
Christian Breiding, Los Angeles, CA
If you're like the other mad-hatters who hurry to the ball, your practice swing in relation to your actual swing has the velocity of honey. So what's the difference between the two? It's the damn ball -- the most overrated object in all of sports. Think of the ball as a marker, a chip that lets us keep track of where we are on the course.
So never mind changing your tempo. Instead, change your attitude toward the ball. Disrespect it. Make fun of it! It only weights 1.62 ounces and you probably tilt in at over 3000 ounces. It's no contest! You win, so chill out.
Here's a drill that's foolproof -- all you've got to do is take the fool out of it.
In the picture to the right, I've covered up the ball with a Dixie cup, and now all I have to do is hit the X.
No ball, no hurry. No hurry, no worry.
What does a proper release feel like? Is it like snapping a rolled up towel?
Snapping your wrist as if you were snapping a towel? No way! The release is misunderstood because it has three parts that must all happen together to square the clubface -- if any of the three are absent, the ball spins out of control.
The focus is on right wrist action -- look at photos of good players: on the downswing, as the hands approach the back foot, the knuckles of the trailing hand look toward the ground. If there is a single position that the good player gets in and the bad one doesn't, it's this one. I estimate that only 10 percent of golfers routinely achieve this position.
Here are the three parts of the release:
Correct wrist action: Your trailing hand is bent back toward your forearm at the top of your swing, and to release the club it swivels around the forearm using the same motion you would use to rotate a doorknob. This screwing action keeps the pressure off the front wrist and allows it to remain in line with the forearm, preventing the clubface from flipping.
Body release: The trailing side (knee, hip, and shoulder) must keep moving/rotating in order to contribute to the squaring of the clubface. When any part of the trailing side stops, the clubhead is torn out of its orbit.
Forearm Rotation: This is the third essential movement for squaring the clubface, but there is a right way and a wrong way. If you try to consciously use your hands to square the clubface, chances are you'll get flippiness. You must think "forearm rotation" not hands.
This is a brief summary but the full story would make a good article or you could read my new book "The 26 Most Important Things to Think About at Impact."