Golf Digest editors picks
lesson tee

Why You Need To Stay Wide

Keep the club in line with your left arm

September 2011

I had fallen into a bad habit while preparing for this year's Senior PGA Championship. I wasn't swinging well and gave myself no chance. Then I got a tip that turned on the light for me.

Max Puglielli, an Adams Golf tour rep who has watched me hit a lot of balls, noticed I was picking the club up steeply to start the swing. I was using my hands too much and not turning my shoulders enough.

Immediately I thought of Davis Love III's wide backswing (bottom image) -- that's a good model -- especially with the longer clubs. He keeps the shaft in line with his left arm in the takeaway, as I'm doing here, really extending his hands. With a proper shoulder turn, this gives great width to the backswing.

You also get into a better position at the top -- much wider -- and you gain time to make any adjustments on the downswing. So I went back to dragging the club away low and keeping everything together. My swing felt better, and I won the Senior PGA in a playoff.

MORE THOUGHTS FROM TOM

Most golfers swing too conservatively to achieve their distance potential. Try to forget all the swing thoughts that might be cluttering your mind, and just give it a rip. You don't want to swing out of control, but you shouldn't be tentative either. Learn how fast you can swing and still stay in balance. You can always gear down for control.

TOM WATSON, a Golf Digest Playing Editor, is the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. He won the Senior PGA Championship in a sudden-death playoff in May.

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