When you see a tour player in a classic position at the top of the backswing, like Bernd Wiesberger is in here, it seems like there's no way he can miss. And you'll hear plenty of tips about how copying this position will improve your swing.
But unless you're a 6-foot-2, 200-pound, super-athletic pro like Wiesberger, getting into this static position—even if you physically can—isn't going to necessarily make your swing any better. The secret isn't the position; it's what happens during the transition at the top from backswing to downswing. I'm talking about the motions and whether things are happening at the correct speed and timing.
For example, if you got into this position but then moved into the downswing too fast, pulling the handle toward the ball immediately, the club's path will be too steep and move on an out-to-in path. Hate to tell you this, but you're gonna slice it. And if your transition at the top is too slow, your swing will lack the dynamic motion needed to whip the clubhead into the ball as fast as it should. Your shot is going nowhere.
So instead of focusing on getting into a model pose at the top, I want you to work on how you transition from backswing to downswing. Here are a couple of handy tips to get this right:
BACKSWING: Think more about the length than where you are at the top. Take the club back until you feel a stretch across your chest—but no farther. When you swing the club past this point, or get the shaft pointing way across the target line at the top (pointing right of the target for righties), you're blocking the club from being able to move around your body correctly on a path from inside the target line in the downswing.
DOWNSWING: Get the clubhead moving its fastest at the bottom of the swing arc. The mistake is to try to do that by swinging the grip end faster. In fact, that will usually slow the clubhead down. Instead, get a feel for how to release the club. If the coast is clear, make swings where you actually try to throw the club down the range as far as you can. If you attempt this by swinging the grip end faster, you'll throw the club into the ground. Instead, keep your grip pressure relaxed so you can sling the club high, long and straight down your target line—that's the feel you want to create clubhead speed when you swing. Think about how you would hammer a nail. Are you trying to move the hammer's head or handle faster? If you want to hammer a nail—or a ball—the answer is obvious.
Golf Digest 50 Best Teacher Randy Smith is based at Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas.