Eight tips & tricks from Golf Digest's top-ranked teachers
A few of the best Golf Digest teachers have some ideas on how you can improve your game.
BOYD SUMMERHAYS / T-45 SET UP FOR AN ATHLETIC SWING
It’s true that a good golf swing is a coordinated movement requiring an athletic setup. But I often see golfers try to get “athletic” by flexing their knees a lot, sticking their butts way out and arching their lower backs like I’m demonstrating here. This posture will zap a golf swing of mobility, power, and yes, athleticism. A better setup has less knee flex, a neutral spine and the butt feeling like it’s tucked under the torso. If you address the ball like that, you can turn more freely and recruit more energy to smash the ball —like an athlete.
TONY RUGGIERO / 43 LEARN TO PIVOT IN THE GYM
It would be awesome if your body did what it was supposed to do on the downswing automatically. Unfortunately, you need to make your body pivot toward the target to produce swing speed hit the ball solidly. I know some people dread the gym, but it’s a great place to train the proper pivot in the swing—especially in the winter when you can’t practice outside. Anchor a stretch band, grab the other end, and mimic your through-swing. Make a strong pivot and punch through impact into the position you see here. If you train like this, a good downswing will start feeling like it’s automatic.
MARTIN CHUCK / 36 GET IN POSITION TO HIT IT FLUSH
So many players struggle to get their irons into a good delivery position at impact, so here’s a drill that will make it easier: Set up in this pre-impact position with your club’s shaft parallel to an alignment rod or something similar on your target line. Your lead arm should feel long and under your shoulders, your trail arm bent, and the clubface tipped downward toward the ball. That’s a great delivery position! Now just let your hands and forearms move down to center the clubhead behind the ball, and begin your swing from there. This is the ideal address position to hit better shots.
NICK CLEARWATER / T-33 MAKE A BETTER BACKSWING FOR DISTANCE & ACCURACY
Players who try to “stay behind it” by making a big shift away from the target in the backswing might think they’re doing something that produces long and straight tee shots, but they’re actually making it harder to do just that. If you want to hit your drives longer straighter, start with this drill: Take your address in a doorway with the lead side of your head touching the frame. Make a backswing all the way to the top, keeping your head from moving off the jamb. You’ll feel your chest expanding, which is a key move to creating and storing power without needing to let your body drift behind the ball. Remember this feel when you swing.
JAMES LEITZ / T-45 TRAIN YOUR LEAD FOOT TO CREATE MORE POWER
Average golfers don’t push into the ground with their lead foot early enough or hard enough when they swing. Here’s a drill that helps improve footwork: Set up in your normal stance with an iron, but adjust so your feet are together and behind the ball. soon as you take the club back, lift your lead foot and step toward the target, planting it before you swing down and strike the ball. Re-create this amount of ground force when you play.
TRILLIUM ROSE / T-50 IMPROVE YOUR CONTACT ON SHORT-GAME SHOTS
A common fault when chipping or pitching is hanging back and trying to scoop the ball off the turf. If you’re hitting chunks or blading the ball, it’s a safe bet your weight distribution and your angle of approach need to be corrected. Practice hitting chips and pitches with your weight on your lead leg —from address all the way until you finish the swing. You can make sure you keep your weight on that leg by setting up and swinging with your other leg pulled back from the target line, resting only on its toes for balance. This will force you to keep your weight forward, letting the club swing down into the ball.
DANA DAHLQUIST / 27 COPY RORY’S SECRET TO SMASHING THE DRIVER
We all love to watch Rory McIlroy hit it long and straight off the tee. You can integrate some of what he does in the downswing for better drives. The key is what his lead shoulder my “Rory Drill” will help train you to move it properly. Hold your driver with only your lead hand and pose the position the driver would be in when the shaft is nearly parallel to the ground in the downswing. From this spot, firmly push into the turf with your lead leg and move your left shoulder up and then away from the target as you swing the club through impact. After you practice this for a while, put this shoulder move into your driver swing, and you’ll start smashing the ball.
DAVID ORR / T-33 CONNECT YOUR STROKE TO YOUR TARGET
A good putting stroke won’t help you if your aim is off. One of the most common issues I see comes when players aim too straight for the putt they have and then make adjustments mid-stroke to push or pull the ball onto the correct line. You need to be conscious of lining yourself up to your true target and making a stroke toward that In many cases, that stroke won’t be directly at the hole. For example, the putt I have here will break to the left, so my stroke needs to be toward a target right of the hole. If my stroke was more toward the actual cup, I would miss the putt to the left. Make sure your stroke matches up with your true target. When it does, it should feel more relaxed and free.