July 8, 2007

Improve your turns

My drill will help your top-of-the-backswing and finish positions

Back and through: 1. Rest the club on your shoulder. 2. Turn your shoulders. 3. Raise your hands in the air. That's how to feel the correct backswing and finish positions.

Back and through: 1. Rest the club on your shoulder. 2. Turn your shoulders. 3. Raise your hands in the air. That's how to feel the correct backswing and finish positions.

The reason many amateurs struggle to make a full backswing and a full finish is that they don’t have a reference for how these positions should feel. Sometimes it’s a question of flexibility—not being able to make a complete shoulder turn. But for the most part, once I show them this simple shoulder drill, they have a much better understanding of the spacing between the hands and the body as well as how the torso should turn.

To feel a full backswing, take your setup with a 5-iron, then rest the shaft on your right shoulder. Turn so your back is facing the target, with the club still on your shoulder. Now raise your hands in the air so your left arm is extended. That’s exactly where you want to be at the top.

Do the opposite to feel a full follow-through. Take your setup, and rest the club on your left shoulder. Turn your chest to face the target. Now raise your hands, extending your right arm. There’s your finish.

Practice these positions for a while, then try to repeat them when you hit shots.

Ranked No. 5 by his peers among Golf Digest’s 50 Greatest Teachers, Rick Smith is based at the Treetops Resort near Gaylord, Mich., and Tiburón in Naples, Fla.