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The Most Important Drill in Golf



First, let me say that I hate blanket statements in golf instruction. There are so few absolutes in the golf swing, which is why recommending one thing for all golfers is usually one of the most detrimental things you can do as an instructor. With every rule there is an exception, however, and I believe this drill to be that exception.

A ton of golf instructors, commentators, and average golfers have noted throughout golf history that there are hundreds of different combinations of golf swings that can produce world-class results. Even today, it is very difficult to find any commonalities that hold true, for all, or even a large percentage of PGA Tour players. I am here to tell you that much smarter scientists and biomechanists than me have discovered a very important commonality. Based on this commonality, I believe this is the most important drill for every golfer.

Article 5

This picture always amazes me, and it’s proof of why function is so much more important than form in the golf swing. It always keeps me grounded as an instructor, and even as a player, to not always sweat the minute details of form. I know for a fact that all the golfers in the photo can hit the same shots when necessary despite the differences in their swings. When I was on tour with TrackMan, I saw all sorts of players hitting the same exact shot and delivering the same exact club path and face angle at impact. They were doing it in a multitude of ways, however, and none of their full club numbers were exactly the same. Having said that, there is one commonality between them all.

So, what is the drill? All I want you to do is to figure out how to hit straight shots with your non-dominant hand on the club. If you’re a right-handed golfer, use only your left hand. If you’re left-handed golfer, use only your right hand. All I want you to accomplish is to start the ball on line. Distance does not matter. I know this sounds really easy, but I know the first time I ever tried it I thought it was almost stupid. Boy was I wrong.

What you will find out pretty quickly is that this drill is not easy. Almost all golfers who first try it will either struggle making contact or always start the ball way right of the target line. There is some pretty in-depth science about why this happens, but I will try and explain things in the simplest terms possible.

Article 3

In the swing sequence above, I’m demonstrating what happens when a golfer first tries this drill. The club face is open throughout the downswing and even more open at impact, which causes the ball to start significantly to the right of the target. There are a couple of reasons why this happens. When swinging with only my left hand, I don’t have enough strength to rotate my forearm or left wrist in time to square the club face. So when I pull the butt end of the grip down toward the golf ball in transition to try and create power, the club face remains open and the ball starts right.

Article 4

Now, look at my second swing above. The ball started on target and was hit well. Hopefully, you notice quite a difference between these two swings. As you can see at impact, the club face is square and the ball therefore starts on target. You may be asking yourself, what is the trick?

In the second swing I am creating passive torque to help square the clubface. I know… I probably just lost you. What is passive torque? Well, in simple terms, I am creating a relationship between the club’s center of mass and the force I am applying to the grip that naturally helps square the club face up at impact.

For all of you familiar with this topic, I may not be saying it 100 percent accurately, but I want to try and describe it in a way most golfers can understand. If you are looking to fully understand this relationship and how it happens, I suggest you look up the work Dr. Sasho MacKenzie has completed. In the frames below, you can see a better representation of what the club head and shaft are doing differently in the two swings.

Swing #1


As you can see in Swing #1, I start to pull the butt end of the grip down toward the golf ball at the top of the backswing. This begins to steepen the shaft and open the club face through the transition. At this point, I do not have the strength with only my left hand to square the face, so the club face remains open and the ball starts right.

Swing #2

Article 2

In Swing #2, you can clearly see that in early transition the club head and shaft shallow while the club face remains square. I am accomplishing this by relaxing my left hand and feeling like the left wrist bows in transition. Now that I have created passive torque, the club head wants to line up at impact and the face is square. It’s important to note that just because I am creating this look or relationship does not mean I am going to only hit draws. Plenty of drawers and faders of the golf ball create this relationship. Just look at Ben Hogan or Lee Trevino if you don’t believe me.

So why is this important?

According to the research from Dr. Sasho MacKenzie, all but one PGA Tour player he has measured has this relationship in the early transition. That means it’s very difficult to be a world-class ball striker if you don’t create this relationship in the early downswing. That’s why I believe this drill to be the most important drill in golf. Even if you already have this relationship, I think it is helpful to revisit this drill in your practice. I would compare it to taking a daily multivitamin. It really can’t hurt you, even if you’re eating all the right foods.

The vast majority of golfers I see on a regular basis have no concept of this motion, which is why I consider this drill to be something than can help everyone. It’s a blanket statement I can get behind. This drill is easy, fun, and it won’t cost you anything to practice. And most importantly, it can be a game-changer.

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PGA Member and Golf Professional at Biltmore Forest Country Club in Asheville, NC. Former PGA Tour and Regional Representative for TrackMan Golf. Graduate of Campbell University's PGM Program with 12 years of experience in the golf industry. My passion for knowledge and application of instruction in golf is what drives me everyday.

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  1. Steve

    Oct 23, 2017 at 11:29 am

    This actually has a bit of “gravity golf” intuition to it. Possibly, that is one of those styles that not so many people liked, but that basic structure really helped me understand pitching and chipping. Some days, it even shows up as a great full swing. “Passive torque” may be too abstract to explain, and I would not say that all of David Lee’s analogies made sense to me; however, drills like the one suggested here, are founded on a useful premise: the body likes to conserve energy, so the brain will find more efficient ways to deliver the club head to the ball (but, only when it sees a need to do so, and that will really only happen when we are in a position of weakness).

  2. SheaM

    Oct 22, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Great article Hunter! Just wonding your thoughts on using the trail arm in the drill compared to the lead side/ In my experience teaching this drill with the trail arm will allow the club to drop into the correct position on the downswing and maintaining a square club face. Just wondering your thoughts on lead arm VS trail arm for the drill?


    • iblak

      Oct 22, 2017 at 9:19 pm

      no because only the left arm is learning the feel so you don’t wanna get the right hand into the feel zone and messing up the drill.
      left arm only but mebe doing the drill with the right hand only but not together.

      • SheaM

        Oct 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm

        I am suggesting using the trail arm only, which in my experience is a stronger way to teach players to deliver the club to impact with a square club face

        • Hunter Brown

          Oct 25, 2017 at 8:00 am

          Its great to use the trail arm only. I just think its important to use both. Trail arm might be a good place to start as it is easier to square for most players but at some point they also need to figure out how to square the face with the lead arm only as well.

  3. yobro

    Oct 22, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    WOW!!!! Here’s the best drill for right hand swinging::::
    Put the two instruction articles together and your golf swing woes are solved, permanently!!!!
    This stuff is gold… GOLD!!!!

  4. Andrew Cooper

    Oct 22, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Hunter, i agree learning to hit decent shots with the weaker hand is a good exercise, but looking at the two sets of photos it looks like you’re going from one bad place to another, i.e. from steep and out, to inside and underneath?

    • iblak

      Oct 22, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      so how do you educate the weaker left hand to do its share of the work in the full swing?

      • Andrew Cooper

        Oct 23, 2017 at 7:23 am

        I’d suggest taking the last two fingers and thumb of the lower hand off the grip. That way you’ll still have some support from the right arm, which will make it easier to avoid the weight of the clubhead pulling you into bad places. And obviously start with small shots off a tee and build up from there. Definitely need to be wary of injury trying to hit shots one arm only-A club is heavy when being swung- it’s not designed to be used with one arm only.

  5. bogeypro

    Oct 22, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I can’t only imagine how brutal a lesson with SteveK must be on someone…. lighten up man. Hunter, I like this idea for trying to give someone the feel of what should be happening. My son is left handed and swings a baseball bat and a golf club right handed, but throws left handed. All the drills about throwing side arm, etc means nothing to him. It would be like trying to get me to throw side arm pitches left handed…it would feel wonky. So, trying to find drills that give him the right feel is difficult.

    • yobro

      Oct 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      Okay, dad …. tell your baseball son to do this drill and assure him it will make him a better golfer. After all it makes eminent sense to swing a golf club one-handed to get the ‘feel’ of the golf swing.
      Father knows best, because this golf tip is on a golf forum. Go for it and watch your son blossom into a great golfer.

      • bogeypro

        Oct 23, 2017 at 8:55 am

        Thank you for adding nothing to the discussion.

    • SteveK

      Oct 22, 2017 at 6:56 pm

      So you believe that this conscious drill will help your baseball son to ‘feel’ what is happening. Now, how does he make it automatic without consciously thinking about in during the golf swing? How many conscious repetitions must he do to embed the ‘feel’ into his unconscious mind?
      Ask Hunter that question!

      • bogeypro

        Oct 23, 2017 at 8:57 am

        You offer alot of criticism, but never any swing advice of your own. You don’t add anything to these discussions. How about you post some links to some of your writings on the swing so we can see how you teach.

        • OB

          Oct 23, 2017 at 4:50 pm

          You obviously don’t know about Motor Control & Learning science that explains how the brain and body learn movements through the conscious and unconscious mind. It’s all there if you need swing advice.
          Perhaps you should hit the books before you hit the ball…. because basic knowledge of the sciences is the start of basic learning of the golf swing.

          • David Kopf

            Nov 8, 2017 at 10:56 am

            @OB, what resources would you suggest for learning more about Motor Control & Learning?

  6. SteveK

    Oct 22, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Hunter…. what is your take on The L.A.W.s of the Golf Swing by Adams et al ….. where they classify the optimal golfswing style to body shape and structure?
    Surely a stout golfer’s swing is vastly different than a slim golfer’s swing….. and your one-arm drill must be adjusted for different body types.

  7. Ron

    Oct 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    This drill is perfect for anyone who struggles with coming over the top, casting, or too active with their dominant side. Your non-dominant arm should do most of the work in your swing. The dominant arm is there just to add speed and power. But the problem is that most people take over with their dominant side and with that comes all the swing flaws I mentioned above. I can’t advocate enough for this drill. It has worked wonders for me in the past. Word of caution, take it slow at first and grip down an inch or two. Also use a PW or other short iron. YOu can gradually work up once you’ve gotten the hang of it.

  8. SteveK

    Oct 20, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    “So, what is the drill? All I want you to do is to figure out how to hit straight shots with your non-dominant hand on the club. If you’re a right-handed golfer, use only your left hand. If you’re left-handed golfer, use only your right hand. All I want you to accomplish is to start the ball on line. Distance does not matter. I know this sounds really easy, but I know the first time I ever tried it I thought it was almost stupid. Boy was I wrong.”
    You”re wrong on two counts….. one on doing the one-armed/handed drill, and two on the Motor Learning & Control aspects of teaching your brain this stupid drill.
    If you only use your non-dominant left hand you only involve the right side of your brain’s Motor Cortex, and the left side Motor Cortex is not only idle, it’s confused when you try to add your right hand to the swing. Kinesthetic training is clear on that point. Try again, Homer.

    • Hunter Brown

      Oct 21, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Hey Steve, thanks for taking the time to read and provide constructive criticism. I was happy to see I didn’t have to sort through anonymous childish put downs and dismissive rhetoric to get to your point. Also you are probably correct this drill does not necessarily teach you the mechanics of this movement with two hands on the club however it absolutely teaches you the concept of the motion so you can then apply that to your full swing. Understanding can only be positive right?

      • MB

        Oct 21, 2017 at 9:46 pm

        No, you are completely wrong and just as immature as the others as you can’t take the put downs so you reply with:
        ” I was happy to see I didn’t have to sort through anonymous childish put downs and dismissive rhetoric to get to your point.” and “Understanding can only be positive right?”

        But you’re not understanding and just as dismissive as anybody else, because you know you’re wrong but can’t admit it.

      • SteveK

        Oct 22, 2017 at 1:09 am

        No, Hunter, you can’t learn the full swing with this ‘drill’; you only learn to uncontrollably lash out a golf club with one arm and that’s it. Sorry, but that’s the brutal truth.
        Swinging the arms is only about 10% of the golf swing and the other 90% is what happens from the soles of your feet/shoes up to your shoulders and in your head.
        Golfers want to believe that arm swinging the club is a ‘golf swing’ and they ignore the function of the rest of the body because their body is usually non-athletic and they don’t want to train their inadequate body because training hurts and is not ‘fun’.
        So, is understanding the brutal truth a positive thing or not golfically correct?

      • MK

        Oct 22, 2017 at 7:04 pm

        Hunter. Appreciate this article. Some of these tards probably still think/teach that the end all be all is to swing inside out and release hard with the right hand. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of ignorance when it comes to the golf swing there.

  9. Dennis Mcmahon

    Oct 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    After trying this drill i strengthened my grip to having 3 knuckles showing. I was able to achieve the goal of the drill with less effort.

  10. Jeff Lebowski

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    I understand that using only one hand creates the proper torque. However, how does one transition from this drill to full swings? Does the drill correct your mechanics unconsciously? At some point I would like to swing using both hands.

    • SteveK

      Oct 20, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Good point … see my above comment on this stupid drill… potentially injurious too.

    • Hunter Brown

      Oct 21, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Hey Jeff I like where you are headed here. This drill really just teaches you the concepts and gives you greater understanding of how the club head and shaft need to react in early transition. When applying to full swings video your swing and see if the shaft shallows while the club face remains square. You can accomplish this by flexion (bowing like hitting the throttle on a motorcycle) in the lead wrist and external rotation of the trail arm/shoulder (think losing at arm wrestling or skipping rocks). Hope this helps when moving to a full swing!

      • SteveK

        Oct 22, 2017 at 1:18 am

        Sorry, but there is no way this single ‘drill’ can be kinesthetically transferred to a two handed golf swing because the right and left brain hemispheres of the Motor Cortex must work together to produce a golf swing. Training only one side of the brain and leaving out the other side is simply wrong when both sides must be utilized.
        Now, if you told up to train both arms separately and then tried to meld the two together into an arm swing, that might fly…. but only winging one arm is deleterious to the complete golf swing … and the brain…. believe it.

        • MK

          Oct 22, 2017 at 7:07 pm

          Can u even break 80 dude? Seriusoly bud, relax. If you ever want to become a better player, or hit better shots you have to understand controlling the face. That’s what this whole article is about.

          • iblak

            Oct 22, 2017 at 9:25 pm

            you must be operating with only half yer brain by swinging with yer left arm only.

  11. TeeBone

    Oct 20, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    The clubface squares up very naturally and easily when swinging with only the lead arm, as it takes no more strength than to be able to hold onto the club to allow the left wrist to roll back. It is actually improper right arm participation that inhibits the clubface from returning to square. The researchers of “Search For the Perfect Swing” found a greater tendency to hook, not slice, when swinging the left arm only.

    • SteveK

      Oct 22, 2017 at 1:23 am

      Right on, TeeBoner ….. your comment is the only other legitimate comment on this topic thread…. next to mine.
      What do you think about doing single arm swings for both the left and right arms and then attempting to blend them together into a proto-swing?

  12. ted

    Oct 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Very..very interesting! I will for sure try this. Would this help with 2 other issues i have? weight transfer and my out to in swing?

  13. Aot

    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Total and utter tosh.

  14. yoyo

    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:46 am

    What length irons would this be best practiced with when just starting them?

    • Hunter Brown

      Oct 21, 2017 at 9:52 am

      I would start something light like a wedge

    • yobro

      Oct 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Just use a 5/8th inch diameter steel rod 18 inches long with a golf grip and you will get a decent workout. A lightweight golf club is too awkward for one armed swinging…. unless you believe swinging a golf club will get you closer to a golf swing.

  15. Chris

    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:38 am


  16. Steve

    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:36 am

    “Now that I have created passive torque”

    passive torque?

  17. David Ciccoritti

    Oct 20, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Would this work if you’re a LH golfer with right hand dominance?

    • painter33

      Oct 20, 2017 at 11:09 am

      That was going to be my question too. I play right handed but am left handed – the opposite of Phil Mickelson and Mr. Ciccoritti. In essence, my lead arm is my dominant arm.

      • Ian

        Oct 20, 2017 at 12:42 pm


      • SteveK

        Oct 20, 2017 at 5:11 pm

        Curiously, tennis star Pete Sampras who is right handed, swings his golf clubs left handed. Why, you ask?
        Because his tennis backhand stroke is done with his dominant right hand and he just transferred that skill to golf.

        • MikeC

          Oct 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm

          To SteveK: What about Tiger Woods? If you classify the best putter as the person who consistently made the most important putts that mattered then he is clearly the greatest putter of all time. His favorite putting drill which he’s done countless times: The right hand only drill. Wouldn’t this also violate the left/right sides of the brain theory? Clearly it worked for him. It trained him to release the putter when he transitioned from a hold release to more of a full release stroke in about 1999. I think there is so much we don’t know about the brain so to try to hold to these absolute truths is foolish.

          • OB

            Oct 23, 2017 at 4:54 pm

            Yes, but it took Tiger 10 years of solo practice before his putting stroke was established securely. It’s not something you can learn on the practice green by doing it a few times before you go to the first tee.

      • BCKnoll

        Oct 21, 2017 at 4:46 pm

        add me to the list of a LH playing from the right side…….using extensor action seems to place my right arm as dominate……..

    • Hunter Brown

      Oct 21, 2017 at 9:53 am


      • SheaM

        Oct 22, 2017 at 8:34 pm

        Great article Hunter! In my experience I teach this same concept using the golfers trail arm. I find that this allows the club to drop into the correct position while still keeping the club face square. Just wondering what your thoughts are teaching with the trail arm vs the leading arm?


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Build A More Consistent Short Game Through Better Body Movement



So far in my collection of articles on GolfWRX, I’ve talked at length about the importance of posture, stability and movement patterns in the full swing, particularly utilizing the GravityFit equipment for feedback and training load. Many coaches use the same equipment to teach better movement in the putting, chipping, and pitching actions.

To help give some more insight into exactly how they do this, I have recruited Matt Ballard to co-author this article. Matt is an Australian-based coach and short game specialist who has been working with Adam Scott for the past year.

Matt Ballard (right) with Adam Scott.

According to Matt, the short game issue that the club players he coaches struggle with is contact and delivering consistent loft with their wedges.

“Most people tend to get steep, the handle comes in first and not enough loft is delivered,” he says. “This means that the bounce of the wedge isn’t being used properly, which makes control of contact, trajectory, and distance very difficult. ”

As Matt explains in the video below, this problem tends to manifest itself in chips and pitches that are either fat or thin, fly to short or not far enough, and either check up too soon or go rolling on past the pin.

The really frustrating part is the inconsistency. Not knowing how the ball is going to react makes committing to a shot extremely difficult. This has the unnerving effect of turning a simple task into something difficult… and pars into bogeys or worse. For the past few months, Matt has been using the GravityFit TPro to teach correct set up posture and body movement for chipping and pitching.

“I use the TPro to first of all establish spine and shoulder position,” Matt says. “I like my students to have the feel of their shoulders and forearms being externally rotated (turned out). From this position, it’s much easier to control the clubface (i.e. not getting it too shut or too open). The second benefit of using the TPro is controlling the golf club radius during the swing, with the radius being the distance the club head is from the center of the body. Controlling the radius is paramount to becoming an excellent wedge player. The third reason I use it is to help teach that pure rotation from the thoracic spine (mid/upper back), minimizing the excessive right side bend (for a right handed player) that gets so many people into trouble.”


Nick demonstrating how TPro drills can be performed

















Essentially, Matt uses the GravityFit TPro to train a simple movement pattern that, once mastered, all but eliminate the typical problems normally associated with chipping and pitching.

“When (golfers) learn to turn using their thoracic spine and keep their arms in front of their body, it has a dramatic effect on how they deliver the club to the ball,” Matt says. “They are now able to maintain width or radius on either side of the ball, shallow out the club, and engage the bounce (sole) of the wedge to interact with the turf effectively, which is a key trait of all excellent wedge players. Doing this greatly increases their margin for error from a strike perspective and produces a far more consistent outcome in terms of loft, trajectory and distance control.”

Here is Matt’s 5-step process that you can follow with the TPro:

  1. Push handles out in front of your body, keeping slight bend in elbow.
  2. Stretch tall. Feel the green spikes in your middle/upper back and your shoulder blades on the paddles.
  3. Hinge forward into posture for pitching or chipping (the shorter the shot, narrower the stance.).
  4. Slowly turn chest into backswing, keep arms out in front of body, and maintain pressure on the spikes and paddles.
  5. Turn through to finish position using normal tempo, maintaining same pressure on the TPro and keeping arms in front of your body.

In summary, using the TPro and Matt’s drill can help you train a simple movement pattern that can give you far more control over the strike, trajectory and distance of your chips and pitches.

Click here to learn more about the TPro. To discover more pearls of wisdom from Matt, take a look at his website here and his social media activity here.

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Expand the Radius for Pure Ball-Striking



There is a specific element of the swing that all good ball-strikers possess. It can be summed-up many different ways, lending to the often confusing terminology of golf instruction, but perhaps the best description is the following: good ball strikers, except for with the driver and putter, create a bottom or low-point of the clubhead swing/arc that is a few inches ahead of the ball.

In his book “The Impact Zone,” former PGA Tour player Bobby Clampett clearly made his feelings known on the matter by stating that for all types of player concerns, his best response was to “get the bottom of the swing 4 inches ahead of the ball.” Four inches may be the high end of the effective range, but still, I’m in agreement with Bobby on the paramount importance of this element of the swing.

Why is this so important?

Achieving a “forward” low point allows the golfer to deliver the clubhead to the ball with a slightly descending attack angle. Due to the design of the small golf ball and lofted face of golf clubs, “hitting down on the ball” slightly is a must for clean contact on the “sweet spot” of the clubface. Also, the bio-mechanics involved in creating a forward low-point will naturally return the club face squarely back to its starting alignment relative to the path/plane of the swing. The “dub,” as Bobby Jones rather bluntly referred to him (or her) who struggles to achieve both of these clubhead delivery conditions satisfactorily, is thus both a “flipper” and a “slicer.”

OK, so how do we do it?

Intentions, feels, and swing thoughts – different terms for the same thing — that can help the golfer achieve a forward low-point are limitless. But the following is one of the very best that I know of: expand the radius of the hand-path through impact. In terms of space, we’re talking “past the ball.” But I prefer this intention in relation to time or impact, which is more feel-based.

The hands swing around a point located near the golfer’s upper core area. At the start of the swing, both arms are essentially straight. The radius of the swing of the hands is widest and the distance from the hands to the center is greatest when both arms are straight. In the backswing, the left arm remains straight while the right arm bends up to a 90-degree angle, at which time the radius is at its most narrow, the hands closest to the center. At the strike point, good ball-strikers are expanding the radius of the swing of the hands, in turn widening the arc of the clubhead past impact. Without this bio-mechanical feature to the swing, achieving a swing bottom several inches ahead of the ball is virtually impossible, as the clubhead will release prematurely to its bottom.

How do you know if you’re doing it?

Besides creating proper clubhead delivery and an unmistakably “pure” strike, the trail arm should be observed with high-speed video to be straightening at impact. In a proper full swing, full-radius and the classic both-arms-straight position is reached just after impact.

A natural practice drill to acquire this skill

Ben Hogan, in his landmark instruction book, “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” described the forward swing motion into impact like throwing a small-sized medicine ball. For a number of years now, I have been using a six-pound medicine ball with handles, for myself as well as my students, as an essential training aid to loosen-up and acquire the correct bio-mechanical movements of the swing. Whether you actually let go of the ball or not, the correct motion is the same:

  • Start with both arms straight.
  • Swing the medicine ball, which represents the hands in the golf swing, around a fixed point in the upper core, near the sternum.
  • At the end of the backswing, the lead arm should still be straight while the trail arm has bent to an approximately 90-degree angle.
  • The primary intention is for the forward swing and is to push the medicine ball outward from your center, reaching full-radius/both-arms-straight again ideally at a point in-line with your lead shoulder/foot. This movement will allow you to achieve a clubhead low point ahead of any golf ball positioned behind your lead shoulder.

A word of warning

It is possible to extend the radius of the hands too far past the ball. This is largely a problem limited to better players. The buzz term I hear for this nowadays is “handle-dragging.” An effective fix, as you might now imagine, is to intend to expand to full-radius sooner. But in over 20 years of teaching predominately the golfing population at large, I would say that for every one player that I see who expands the radius too far past the ball, I see many more times that who do not expand the radius sufficiently past impact.

It works like this; if you usually strike the ball first, but then take deep, gouging divots, and struggle to achieve a satisfactory height to your approach shots, then more than likely you actually are the rare “handle-dragger.” But if you are like the majority of recreational players who do not typically strike the ball first and then take a proper, shallow divot with your irons and feel that you hit them too high but without sufficient distance, then you are the opposite of a “handle-dragger,” a bit of a “flipper.”

If this description fits you, then please give the intention detailed here a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

In a proper golf swing, both arms become straight again, the hand-path reaching full-radius AFTER impact. As the golf swing moves much too fast to make this critical analysis in real time, high-speed video, seen here viewing down-the-line of flight, is a must.  

A hand-path training drill using a six-pound medicine ball with handles.

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7 Ways PGA Tour Players Enhance Performance on the Road



If you poll the vast majority of PGA Tour players, you will find that they have many different routines and habits. From lucky underwear to only drinking a certain flavor drink on the front 9 vs the back 9, there are superstitions and rituals galore.

Amid all these rituals, there are seven consistent things that the best professional golfers do better than most. How many can you say you do?

1: Take A [Legal] Performance-Enhancing Drug

There is a powerful performance-enhancing drug the PGA Tour and all other sports organizations will never be able to ban. It’s called sleep, and you should take full advantage of it like the pros. 

When you are on the road, jet lag and travel fatigue are the real deal. While travel alone does not appear to be the sole determining factor in decreased athletic performance, studies show that athletes perceive themselves to be jet lagged for up to two days after long-distance travel.

Jet lag can be characterized by GI disturbance, impaired concentration, sleep disturbance, and intermittent fatigue. Good luck going low feeling like that. Travel fatigue, comparatively, is characterized by persistent fatigue, repeated illness, changes in mood and behavior, and loss of motivation. The biggest difference is that travel fatigue is cumulative while jet lag is episodic and circadian-based.

If you travel frequently, you are more at risk for travel fatigue. If you are just going on a one-off golf trip, you are more likely to have jet lag.  

How to be like the pros

Jet lag usually requires one day per time zone traveled to resynchronize your system, so be sure to arrive early enough to allow your body to adapt. There is also some cutting-edge research being done that looks at the use of melatonin and other methods to help athletes regulate their circadian rhythms, but proper scheduling is probably more appropriate for the general public.

In a recent study of collegiate basketball players, increasing the players’ sleep by approximately 2 hours each night created a 9 percent improvement in made free throws and 3-point shots. It also improved sprint times by almost a second.

Professional golfers generally try to have a similar bed time each night and a similar wake time each morning regardless of tee time. The more consistent your sleep is, the more consistent your scoring is likely to be.

2: Shop Till You Drop… Birdies That Is!

Yes, you read correctly. I’m telling you to go shopping. 

When my touring professionals are going out on the road, one of the first things we look at is figuring out where they should stay. While these players may go shopping for clothes or souvenirs, the type of shopping we plan for is a bit less exciting but critical for consistent success: grocery shopping.

As anyone who has traveled before knows, your diet can drastically change when you are on the road. Fast food, restaurants, desserts, alcohol, energy drinks, and prepackaged snacks are often staples of a traveler’s diet. While this may be fine on a vacation, professional golfers are on the road competing for their livelihoods. This type of eating can spell the end of a career and general poor health.

By determining what sort of food preparation capabilities they will have on the road (hotel room, apartment, house, etc.), professional golfers are able to plan the meals they’ll need and they places they’ll get them.

How to be like the pros

If you are staying at a hotel and only have a microwave, look to pick up ingredients for healthy sandwiches, unsalted nuts, fruits, and vegetables that take up little space, travel easily, and can fit easily into a mini-fridge. For dinners, try to stick to salads (limit the dressing) with lean protein sources (i.e. chicken, salmon, white fish, beans, legumes etc.). There are many healthy options, of course, these are just a few suggestions.

If you have a full kitchen, then treat your trip to the grocery store as a normal weekly trip (unless your normal pickups include chips, beer, and fried foods). 

The simplest advice I can give is to shop around the outer edges of the grocery store (produce, deli, butcher, eggs, etc). Stay away from the middle aisles (packaged foods, cookies etc) and you’ll be much better off.

3: Avoid the Free Breakfast Buffet Like the Plague

OK, this one is probably one of the hardest bad habits to break. Why? Easy and cheap. Plus, most amateurs aren’t thinking ahead about their food and don’t want to wake up any earlier than they have to.

Although you’ll be saving money, it’s highly unlikely that a few stale bagels and mini-muffins are going to get you past the sixth hole. 

How to be like the pros

Professionals arrive at the hotel knowing what is served and if it fits into their nutritional needs. Some free breakfasts are the real deal, but most aren’t. The good stuff usually isn’t offered or free.

Do your homework. Call ahead and ask what is included in the free breakfast. If it fits your requirements, then fantastic… you found a needle in a haystack. More than likely, however, you will need to supplement that continental breakfast with either the paid breakfast or a store run.

4: The Pre-Round Routine No One Talks About

No matter where in the world they are, professional golfers always adhere to the same routine when getting ready for a round. They arrive at the course the same amount of time before their tee time, work through the same warm-up routine, and even have the same pre-shot routine. I hope none of this is groundbreaking for you.

What amateurs often miss is the “pre” pre-round routine that no one talks about.

How to be like the pros

Amateurs often don’t factor into their wake up time how long they take to shower, eat, get dressed, drive to the course, workout, meditate, etc. For professional golfers, each of these facets is mapped out to the minute to assure they are truly as ready as possible for the round, thereby minimizing any undue stressors.

Let’s look at this example:

  • Your pre-round routine at the course is 60 minutes.
  • You have a 15-minute drive to the course.
  • You take 45 minutes to shower, eat, and get ready to go.

60 + 15 + 45 = 120 minutes

You need to wake up two hours before your tee time… minimum. Plan ahead like this and you’ll be shocked how much a routine on the road can help you perform.

5: Don’t Let Travel Get in the Way of Workouts

One of the hardest things about being on the road is your schedule; it’s often at the mercy of airlines and the other powers that be. We’ve all been there. So how do the pros make sure they get their workouts in when delayed flights or other obligations get in the way? Well, they don’t plan long workouts on travel days.

How to be like the pros

PGA Tour players generally plan their longer workouts on days that are more consistent. On travel days, they stick to shorter workouts that target core, mobility, or recovery. They know that getting a 20-30 minute session in is better than doing nothing at all.

The research is very clear that if you skip a workout, you will likely feel guilty and beat yourself up. This snowballs and makes it much less likely that you will work out tomorrow or the next day. Instead, if you modify and get the shorter workout in, you feel accomplished and your momentum is still churning for another good workout tomorrow.

6: Use Recovery Workouts to BOOST Energy When Tired

Yes, you should workout to have more energy. When you get in late from a flight or back to the hotel from a long day of working on the road, you rarely think of working out, right?

It’s feet up, TV on, drink in hand…

One of the coolest things about fitness for golf is that there is more than one way to do it. Recovery workouts not only increase your energy, but they can improve your adaption to different timezones.

How to be like the pros

The next time you arrive at a hotel room after a long day, try to do it differently. Instead of beelining for the nearest bar, restaurant, or room-service menu, make your way to the gym or courtyard if it’s nice outside.

The next 20 minutes is going to be life changing if you can make it a habit. Hop on a bike, a treadmill, an elliptical, or just go for a walk. What you need to do is move for 10-20 minutes. You are not trying to burn as many calories as you can or get so out of breath you can’t talk in full sentences. Quite the contrary.

Pros on the road will use a light cardio workout like this to help their system flush out the stuff that is making them feel “blah.” Getting the blood flowing helps them reset their system and feel fresher. Again, “workout” is used lightly here. It is literally just a plan to move around for 10-20 minutes. You can also use this technique at the end of a very vigorous workout to help you recover.

7: The Winners Actually Do Their Homework

This final thing that pros do when they travel is a bit out of the health and fitness realm, but it is 100 percent performance-based. I am sure you have gone on a golf trip as I have, and when you show up at the course you may ask the pro how the course is playing, how fast the greens are running, etc. You know, you try to show that you’re not just any duff off the street. That’s likely the extent of your research on the course… except maybe looking at a scorecard.

Curious why rounds like that don’t usually go well?

How to be like the pros

Before you even arrive at the course, there are some simple things you can do to ensure a better performance. Try to answer these questions before the start of the trip:

  1. Does the course have a range? If not, how might your pre-round routine be affected?
  2. What kind of grass does the course have?
  3. Do you know how to play the course? What differences or similarities will there be compared to the course you normally play?
  4. Have you looked at the yardage book? Can you start mapping out what clubs you will be hitting off the tees?  
  5. If you have a chance to ride the course or play a practice round, do you know what adjustments you’ll need to make based on the predicted forecast?
  6. Do you have access to green reading or course layout books? If so, where do big numbers come into play?
  7. What sort of food and beverage services are available? Do you need to pack food/drinks for the round?
  8. Is there a locker room where you can warm up or stretch, or do you need to do that before you arrive?

The list goes on and on, but I think you get the gist. The key to success is preparation and doing your homework.

Don’t let the title be misleading. Not all pros are great at all these things, and it can be the reason they have short-lived careers or spend many grueling years on the developmental tours. I have touring professionals that I work with who struggle to do all seven of these things on a consistent basis. But, when they are successful with these 7, their results on the course are quite convincing.

If you can implement just a couple of these items, you will be pleasantly surprised at the changes you start to see on the course and the way you feel physically.

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