If you're like me, you hit your clubs a certain distance, and on good days you're maybe half a club longer. Those are fun times, when every part of your swing makes sense, and you're just striping it. How do you have more good days like that? Get rid of unnecessary moving parts. In my five years on tour, I've learned there are three things I do that contribute absolutely nothing to my power or accuracy. My coach, Butch Harmon, says they're fairly common, these extra motions that make me have to time my swing perfectly. I explain them here, along with the fixes I've worked on. I'll bet you have one or more of them. When your swing is clean of extra moves, you'll find it easier to play your best golf more often.
1. THROWING THE ARMS
NO: This downswing is too armsy. I've hung back on my right side and "thrown" the club at the ball. To hit it straight, I have to flip my wrists through impact. I might get it solid, but my timing has to be spot on.
YES: On this downswing, my hands and arms are coming through in unison with my whole body. Everything is rotating together. See how the back of my left hand faces the target at impact? That's a great swing key.
2. PICKING THE CLUB UP
NO: This is my worst bad habit on full swings--starting the takeaway with my hands and arms so that the clubhead comes straight up. This steep move off the ball disconnects my arm swing from my shoulder turn, so I'll have to somehow reconnect those two later in the swing.
YES: This is perfect. The clubhead is tracking back low and just inside the target line because I'm turning my shoulders to start the swing. My hands are just holding onto the club. I like to see the clubhead brush the grass for as long as possible.
3. STRAIGHTENING THE BACK KNEE
NO: Letting the back knee go straight causes a nasty chain of events for me. My hips turn too far, which lets my arms keep going back after my shoulders complete their turn. As a result, the swing gets real long--past parallel. I can ramp up a lot of speed from this position, but it takes timing on the downswing to save the shot.
YES: It's amazing how just maintaining the flex in my right knee is a cure-all. My hips feel more restricted on the backswing, which makes my arms stop swinging when my shoulders stop turning. That's what it means to be connected. The clubshaft is in a perfect parallel position at the top.
JOHNSON* has six wins on the PGA Tour, and in 2012 he ranked fourth in driving distance (310.2 yards) and eighth in scoring (69.56).*