A common problem I see with many high handicap golfers is that they let the club head get ahead of their hands at impact with the ball.
From a swing timing point of view, this simply means the release of the wrists/hands is “faster” than the completion of downswing shoulder rotation.
This miss timing of the hand release places the hands in a “physically weak position” on contact with the ball which invariably leads to the hands “collapsing” at the most critical point of the swing.
All kinds of miss hit shots result that range from “topping” the ball, hitting thinned shots, to fades and slices.
Regardless of the ball flight path you may experience, the biggest problem this weak hand position causes is a lack of distance….
“Hit down on the ball”
I am sure you have heard that advice before.
This downswing motion encourages you to get your hands ahead of the club head on contact and into a “stronger” impact position.
However, some golfers take this advice too literally and fail miserably resulting in an excavation of the golf course with massive divots flying all over the place and very little forward progress of the ball…
I prefer to ask a student to “visualize” the correct hand position at impact so that they have this mental picture of how they want finish at the end of their downswing.
In almost all cases this encourages golfers to “slow” down their hand release and in doing so coordinates improved timing with the downswing shoulder turn.
As a quick aside, I remember reading a comment many years ago by Jack Nicklaus that is worth mentioning….
He basically said that it does not matter what a golfer’s swing looks like before striking the ball. As long as they get their hands and club face into the correct position at impact, they will hit a successful golf shot.
From a swing mechanics point of view that statement is absolutely true.
So, regardless of how your swing looks before you hit the ball, let’s see if we can get your hands in correct contact position and I guarantee you will improve your ball striking…
First, you need to know what the correct hand position looks and “feels” like at impact.
To get you there, I want to take you through a simple exercise with a club you can do in your living room to demonstrate the effectiveness of correct hand position from a purely mechanics point of view.
Set yourself in your normal stance position. Hold the club in both hands with your normal grip and position the club head behind a relatively heavy object on the floor, like a small 5lb dumbbell. Place the dumbbell at the normal ball position in your stance.
First of all adjust your hands so that they are “behind” the club head. Your hands should be cocked forward toward the target direction relative to your wrists as you look down on them. You can verify the position further by setting up a full sized mirror in front of you.
Now, simply try to push the dumbbell with the club head and “feel” the strain that causes in your wrists.
As you do this, notice what your hands are trying to do as you push the dumbbell.
They want to move forward towards the target to straighten out so that the back of your hands flattens with your wrists…
This is what I mean by your wrists “collapsing” at impact. As the hands want to straighten out with the wrists, the result can be a slight opening of the clubface. Hence the fade or slice action that results.
Ok, now let’s get you into the correct hand position.
Position your hands so they are slightly ahead of the club face.
As you look down at your hand and wrist position, the back of your leading hand (left hand for righties) should be almost flat with your wrists facing the target.
I want you to look at the position of your trailing hand (right hand for righties)
Notice how it is cocked backwards.
As you make contact with the ball there is very little collapsing taking place because the right hand is almost at the limit of its backward range of motion making this position much stronger for maintaining the drive through the ball.
Now push the dumbbell and “feel” the difference…
Your hands are more able to hold their position and feel stronger in being able to push through the dumbbell.
Repeat this motion pushing the dumbbell over and over until you “visualize” and “feel” the correct hand position.
The next time you go to the range to hit balls, mentally focus only on the strike position.
As you miss hit balls and you feel that collapsing or weak sensation in your wrists, you now know that your club head is getting ahead of your hands.
The wimpy distance of the shot should also be an indicator.
So, slow down your hand release…
Your hands will get into the stronger position at impact, and you will begin to strike the ball more solidly picking up increased distance as you do so.
Best of luck,