Focus On The Fundamentals You Need To Improve

By Smylie Kaufman Photos by J.D. Cuban
December 12, 2016

Just a guess, but there are probably three or four things you need to work on with your golf swing to improve. Am I right? Then jot them down. I don't care if you use an index card, like I do, or dictate them to your smartphone. Just make a list of swing keys, and when you practice, stick to them. For example, maybe you swing off your back foot and need to transfer your weight better. Or maybe you cut your swing off short, and should let your chest keep turning. Whatever issues you have, don't let them always get the best of you because you're not paying attention to how to fix them. Working with my swing coach, Tony Ruggiero, I've identified four fundamentals that I constantly try to improve. Keeping the index card handy allows me to stay on point. See if my notes can help you be a better ball-striker, too. —With Ron Kaspriske


Making a full turn and really loading up the right side as you take the club back is a huge power generator. Do that and you can really hit the ball hard. However, be careful you don't let your body sway a lot in that direction. That will make it much harder to get back to the ball and produce solid contact. One thing I do to prevent that sway is to make a backswing where my pivot feels centered over the top of the ball (pictured above). Tony will even hold an alignment stick next to the right side of my head as a reminder. If I bump it, I'm swaying too much.


Whenever my swing gets a little funky, I go back and check to see that my right arm isn't drifting too far away from my body when I make a backswing. A little separation is fine, but a real loss of connection means it's going to be a challenge to re-sync my arm swing with my body pivot on the way down, so my timing isn't off. I want everything turning back together, so I'll often work on keeping my shirt sleeve tucked into my armpit as I make a backswing. Here I'm demonstrating what I mean by bunching my shirt into the armpit as I make a one-handed backswing (pictured). This helps remind me to keep the movement of my arms and body in sync.


When you rotate your upper body toward the target in the downswing, don't stop after you strike the ball. Keep going. Feel like your chest covers the ball at impact and rotates all the way until your right shoulder is pointing at the target—or at least as far as you can unwind. A drill I do to train this movement is to set up with an alignment rod between my feet. This represents my ball position. I then make practice swings, focusing on getting my upper body fully unwound so it moves ahead of the alignment rod (above). I keep turning until my right shoulder is ahead of my left foot (see photo below). This full rotation makes sures the clubface is square at impact and I power through the ball. Finish strong and you'll own your swing.


Photo by J.D. Cuban

A good downswing has to start from the ground up for leverage and proper sequencing. Getting things to move in the correct order is a challenge for a lot of people I play with in pro-ams, but I sometimes struggle with it, too. When things are a little off, I go back to my step drill (below). It helps train the fundamental of shifting your weight into the front foot before swinging down. I make practice swings where I lift my left foot off the ground, step with it toward my target, planting it again, and then swinging the club down and through. After a few reps, I really start to regain that proper feet-first sequencing.