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10 simple drills to correct complex faults

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There is certainly no shortage of golf training aids on the market, and some are quite good. I have used a few over the years, but mostly I stick to drills that can be done anywhere with little or no equipment.

My reasoning? I like to get my students to feel what they need to do while holding their own clubs and swinging at real golf balls, and I like to use the natural setting of the range or golf course to re-train swings.

Below, I’ve listed 10 of my favorite drills that my goflers have used to get better over the years. Chances are, one of the drills below can help you get on the path to better golf. If you’re struggling, there’s no reason not to give one of them (or a few of them) a try. They can be done just about any time, anywhere and won’t cost you a dime.

The Release Drill

10 simple drills to correct complex faults

Golfers hear a lot about release, but it is still quite confusing to many of them. Basically, the release involves unhinging the wrists and rolling the forearms into the shot. It can be difficult to square the face when one is swinging on too steep of a vertical plane due to the fact that the forearms “reverse rotate,” which for a right-handed golfer involves a high left arm and a low right arm (the “held off” look in the finish). If you do that, you need to feel the proper rotation of the arms in the downswing.

So try this: Place your left hand (for righties) on the grip in its usual place. Then place your right hand down on the shaft and make some swings. Start about waist high, like you’re making a baseball swing. Then bend at the waist and try a few golf-looking swings. Take note of what your arms are doing. You will feel the right forearm rolling drastically over the left. Then do it less severely: both hands on grip but still split apart. Then ease into your regular grip and see if you can get that same feeling. In fact, you might even hit some balls with a slightly split grip!

The Back to the Target Drill

The myriad of players who come “over the top” and are working on swinging more from the inside might try this drill.

Set up square to the target. Now turn 45 degrees to your right (if you’re a righty) with your back basically turned facing the target. Now aim the club face slightly to the right of the target (about half the amount of your body) and try to make some swings along your body line. This, of course, will be well “inside-out” of the target line. You should start to see the ball draw a little. Once you’re able to do that consistently, work your swing direction back toward the target line. 

The Ball on a High Tee Drill

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I use this a lot for swings that start down too steeply with the butt end of the shaft pointed straight at the ground — not at the ball or outside it — and for people who have difficulty making a level backswing turn.  Learn to make some baseball-type swings; feel like you’re playing tee-ball (kids game) and you’ll develop a lower arm swing into impact.

Take note that this drill is similar to the sidehill drill listed below with the ball above your the feet.

The Swish Drill

The Swish Drill is as easy as it gets. Many golfers move their upper bodies OUT before they start their arms DOWN. If you’re one of them try this: Take a fairly aggressive practice swing and listen for the swish sound. Now, try to hear the swish well behind you!

The Swish Drill is a good way to learn to get your arms down a little earlier in the downswing, and more from the inside. For those of you with a release that is too early and casting from the inside, listen for the swish well out in front of you. This will keep you from releasing too early.

The Feet Together Drill

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I have seen just about every swing type imaginable over my many years on the lesson tee. Basically, they break down into two groups: Players with too much arm swing and those with too much body movement.

This drill is for the latter group: If the arms are too “locked up” to the body with insufficient swinging action, try this: Put your two feet together (touching each other) and hit some 6 irons or 7 irons. Do it off a low tee until you get a feel for it. You’ll notice that when you overuse the body (swaying, dipping, getting in front of the ball, etc.) you’ll lose your balance. Use this drill to get a FREE arm swing. You’ll also notice that you’re hitting the ball darn near as far as you do in a regular stance!

The Driver Off The Ground Drill

This is used mostly for the more advanced player, but effective in any case. For those of you who release too early and come too much from the inside, try this drill: Hit some drivers without a tee. You’ll find it necessary to move the golf ball well forward in your stance and slightly open the club face. Basically, you’ll be hitting out-to-in slices, but you will feel what swinging more left is like.

Moguls

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I am convinced that most every swing shape can be re-trained on a hill: a simple grass covered, dirt mound like a skiing mogul. The hill will create every uneven lie encountered in golf. Here’s the ones you may consider using:

  • If your swing is too upright, hit balls on the sidehill with the ball ABOVE your feet.
  • If your swing is too flat, hit balls on the sidehill with the golf ball BELOW your feet.
  • Do you tend to release too early or come from under the plane? The downhill lie is your drill.
  • Do you tend to come over the top or get in front of the golf ball? The uphill lie is perfect for that.

The Tee Drill

Having trouble shanking the ball or hitting shots off the toe of the club? Try this simple drill: For shanks or heel hits, place a tee INSIDE the ball and try to hit it! For toe hits, place a tee OUTSIDE the ball and try to hit it. It will give a sense of doing the opposite of what you are used to doing (which is what drills are for anyway)!

The Upswing Drill

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This is one of my favorites. If done correctly, it is VERY effective. If out-to-in is your swing flaw, try this: Take a normal stance with a driver and place the club on the ground in line with your right heel (for righties) about 3 feet away. Now make some swings SHARPLY UP to right field (or well to the right or where you’re aiming.

Note: The swings must be very acutely UP! Do several of these and you’ll feel a new path, and a new shallow angle of attack for those too steep. Remember UP and IN-TO-OUT!

The Anti-Yip Drill

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Some golfers get a condition we call the chipping yips, which are a sudden flip of the wrists that causes the club head to get well ahead of the hands. It results in chilly dips, double hits, etc. Try this: Chip a bag of balls with your eyes closed. Chip another bag with a cross-handed grip (also known as a left-hand low grip). Heck, chip a bag doing both if you want. See if this helps your problem.

There are hundreds of drills, these are just some of the most common I use. When doing any drill, you CANNOT do too much of it. In fact, you cannot overdo any swing change at first, so EXAGGERATE AWAY!

One last thought: If you find that one of these drills helps you, stay with it. But don’t pass it on to a friends unless they have the same swing problem as you.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Martin

    Mar 15, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Thanks for the great article Dennis. I spent a few evenings doing the “back to the target” drill in my den and I can now draw the ball. I’ve been a serial slicer in the past, but now I finally feel like I have some control over the curvature of my shots. I think after about fifteen more buckets of range balls I should be good to go. Thanks again!

    • Dennis Clark

      Mar 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      You’re welcome; that drill, done correctly, is the BEST anti-slice drill there is.

  2. Mike

    Mar 1, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I really need the “Back to target” drill. I reread it four times and I just didn’t get it. I got back to target, no problem. But then aim the club face just right of that target Behring you? Totally lost. Is it just me?

    • Dennis Clark

      Mar 1, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      It doesn’t read just right of the target behind you…it reads “just right of the target” Meaning this: let’s say the target is 12 o’clock. Aim your body line at 2 or 3, and your club face at 1. If the body is aimed right of the face and you swing along your body, it will be in to out relative to the face. And produce a draw/hook. Got it?

  3. RG

    Mar 1, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Always a pleasure to read your articles, Dennis. All killer, no filler.

    • Dennis Clark

      Mar 1, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      Just like my lessons :). Come on by if you’re in FL. Thx.

  4. Andy

    Feb 27, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Dennis, you are my favourite GolfWRX contributor. Every single one of your posts are matter-of-fact, no beating around the bush information. Your drills are effective and most importantly, applicable. Your articles inspire me to become a better golfer.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

    • Dennis Clark

      Feb 28, 2014 at 7:37 am

      Thx Andy. That’s why I write them!!

  5. mark

    Feb 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    As a teacher also excellent and simple

    • Dennis Clark

      Feb 27, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      Thx. A teacher should know the subject in all it’s complexity and teach it in all it’s simplicity.

      • Andy

        Feb 27, 2014 at 11:28 pm

        Einstein was talking about golf when he was talking about that.

        • Dennis Clark

          Feb 28, 2014 at 9:31 pm

          Now there would be a fun lesson! He gets to ask about golf and I get to ask about everything else. I loved his pacifist ideals..

  6. Tristan Stijn

    Feb 27, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks for the drills! For some golfers this is much better than theory.

    Just don’t quite get the upswing drill, can someone explain this in other words. Do I just place the club like in the picture and start a swing from there? A push in this case?

    • Dennis Clark

      Feb 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Yes, it is hard to describe but easy to do; maybe I’ll do a video to illustrate it better. Place the club as I’ve show, then swing sharply up to say, 2 o’clock if your target is 12. Does that help? Or swing UP at the first baseman if you’re at home plate…I hope you get the picture

      • Tristan Stijn

        Feb 28, 2014 at 3:32 pm

        Thanks Dennis! Went to the range today and it really works. From the position on your picture I take the club straight up to the normal top of the backswing and than swing in to out. Somehow it changes your path for the better. Thanks again, great drill!

  7. David Smith

    Feb 27, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Very good, thank you for these drills!

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