124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

From The Archives

Could this 20 year-old 'Power Line' tip be the key to more distance?


David Cannon

While perusing the Golf Digest Archives the other day, I came across this instruction article from Jim McLean, one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Teachers in America. While this classic piece of instruction might be 20-years-old, the instruction still rings true—and could be key to maximizing your distance and accuracy.

In the article (which you can read here) McLean talks about the importance of positioning your body and club during the delivery and release. He calls these key positions the "power line," and explains that when the clubshaft is parallel to the target line during these ‘two corners of the swing’, you’re able to move your clubhead on a more powerful arc. Resulting in longer, straighter shots.

'Power Line' Mistakes

We’re going to focus on the first corner of the swing, the delivery, which happens in the downswing before you reach your impact position.


Andrew Redington

When the club is parallel to the target line in the delivery, McLean says this indicates that the club is in the optimal position for maximum energy transfer into the golf ball. That's because from this parallel position, the clubhead is released by rotating the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and torso.

“When they all work together, you will maximize your power potential,” McLean says.

Every great player creates a power line during their delivery, he says, as demonstrated in the clip below from Ryan Hager, one of Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers and the Director of Instruction at Plainfield Country Club.

However, McLean says that amateurs struggle to get into this position in their delivery and release. A great way to see if you’re utilizing your power line in the delivery is to set-up your phone to capture your swing down-the-line.

McLean says there are three faults you should be looking for in the delivery: over, under and behind.

When the club comes over, or outside, of this proper delivery path, it will cause players to aim the butt of their shaft left of their target (for right-handers). According to McLean, this means that you’re starting the downswing with your shoulders, which throws off the sequence of your golf swing.

Players that are too far inside, or moving under the proper delivery position, will notice that the butt of the shaft will aim right of the target. McLean says that moving under is usually a result of the right shoulder getting too low on the downswing, causing the club to get trapped behind. Most golfers will flip their hands to try and square the face from this position.

Players that get behind the power line will feel like their trail elbow is stuck behind their hip. Which results in a major loss of power.

How to find the 'Power Line'

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Need a way to rehearse the feeling of finding the proper power line delivery position? Try McLean’s split-hand drill.

Get into your normal setup, then take the club to the top of your backswing. From here, slide your trail hand down the shaft, about six inches from your grip. Then, drop your lead arm. Allow your hips to turn slightly as you shift toward the target, stopping when your club is parallel to the ground. If you’re in the proper position, your trail elbow will be in front of your hip and your club will line up with the target line.

You can read the article in its origional form, and the rest of the archive, right here.