Gridlock could define the Washington, D.C., political landscape these days (and the traffic situation as well), but Erika Larkin's students aren't feeling it in their games. She's one of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers for 2014-15, a top teacher in Virginia in our state rankings and the 2012 PGA Middle Atlantic section Teacher of the Year.
Larkin is also one of two teaching professionals on Golf Digest's Hot List equipment testing panel. In the middle of three full days of beating balls and taking notes at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz., Larkin picked three hashtagged reader swings to review for the #HelpMeGolfDigest project.
The first one comes from @robertlutgu via Instagram, set to a groovy music track.
A video posted by Robert Lugtu (@robertlugtu) on Oct 10, 2014 at 10:16pm PDT
"It's the first student swing video I've ever seen with a soundtrack. I can already tell you have good rhythm and tempo!" says Larkin, who is based at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Va. "It's great to see your knees and hips getting into the groove, but they're bending and swaying and rocking in a way that is letting you waaaay overswing. There's a point where a longer swing produces diminishing returns. I'd like to see you make a backswing that allows for maximum shoulder turn without any breakdown in your posture, arc width or stability. Keep your right foot flat throughout the backswing, without letting it roll onto its outside edge, keep your right knee pointed straight ahead, and your right hip over your right ankle as you turn back. Practice slow backswings standing only on your right leg, which will make it impossible for you to sway or overswing. And when you go back to your normal stance, feel like your right leg stays slightly knock-kneed to exaggerate this new lower body movement."
Reader @mjcvanraf is looking for some specialized advice for more consistent impact and increased power.
A video posted by Marc Van Rafelghem (@mjcvanraf) on Jul 7, 2014 at 10:23am PDT
"You're doing a great job with angles you have to work with," Larkin says. "I'd like to see your seat more vertical to help get your legs more underneath you. This will let your upper body to be more over the ball, which would give you a steeper swing, more trajectory on your shots and make it easier to get the club down to the ground and ball. If you can adjust your vehicle, great. If not, look into this paragolfer cart, which could help you get into a better hitting position. That aside, try this tip. Since your hip mobility is limited, it's normal to let your arms fold around your body as you swing. Keep letting your elbows bend, but in your follow-through, try letting go of the grip just after impact. Pretend you're David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox using the Walt Hriniak swing. It'll let you keep your left arm straighter longer, so you can get down to the ball without lunging. I've seen this technique first-hand with several wounded warriors and disabled golfers I've taught, and it really helps."
The last swing comes from @heimgarrett, who needs to make one simple change to improve his ball flight.
A video posted by @heimgarrett on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:18am PDT
"It looks from your video that you have a right-to-left ball flight, which is great, but I bet you also hit it a little too left and too low sometimes," Larkin says. "I noticed an extremely closed clubface (pointing down at the ground) during the takeaway, and a cupped left wrist in your follow-through. This suggests your grip is very strong, and you're hanging on for dear life through impact to keep from hooking it. You don't need to change anything in your swing. Turn both of your hands slightly left on the handle so that you can relax and let them naturally release through impact."
Be sure to submit your hashtagged swings via Instagram or Twitter. Our top teachers will be reviewing them all winter to help you get tuned up for the season.