Impact – The Moment of Truth by Scott Sackett
By Scott Sackett
The greatest feeling in golf is a dead-solid, perfect impact. The moment of truth: impact! To get that feeling time after time there is a list of positive things that must happen. If your swing brings the club to impact with solid positioning, all the necessities for a perfect golf shot are there: correct clubhead speed, correct path, correct plane, correct face position, the club face centered on the ball and a flat left wrist. These are not as elusive as you might think. I’m going to explain what happens in simple terms and give you a few drills so that with a little work, you can begin to achieve increasingly better impact no matter what your handicap is today. I guarantee you will learn quickly enough to see results within a few practice sessions.
First, let’s look at the two pictures above.Nearly all the top tour players, and in fact, all of those at the top of greens in regulation statistics, have an impact position similar to #2. By comparing the two pictures, you will see what the critical differences are, and what to practice in your own game:
1) Weight—In #1, the body weight is balanced between the feet, whereas in #2 it is 75 percent (or more) on the left foot.
2) Feet—Notice that the feet in #1 are solidly on the ground; however, in #2, there is air under the right heel, and the heel is in front of the toe. This is a power position in golf you must try to achieve. In some swings, you’ll see the right heel backing up, caused by a reverse pivot.
3) At impact, the right knee is moving forward both toward the left knee and out toward the ball. The right knee, hip and elbow are in line with each other, indicating a smooth turning of the body, a great position to check in the mirror.
4) Notice the cupped right wrist, while the left wrist is flat and forward. To hit the ball hard, the right wrist must be slightly cupped, never flat.
5) The hands have moved 3 to 5 inches forward from the original position. This puts the left arm and the shaft in a relatively straight line. (We often see the opposite of this position in amateurs, where the right arm and shaft form the straight line. This would indicate a picking or scooping motion, something you will never see in an advanced player.)
6) The left knee is in the process of straightening and moving into a braced position, forming a vertical “wall” from the foot to the shoulder (the “post” you hear teachers talk about).
7) The position of the left hip, forward from address, shows a little sliding to the left, but not outside the left knee, also indicating more turn than slide.
8) The hips have opened about 30 degrees while the shoulders are still relatively square to the target line. There are only two things that are the same at impact as they were at address: the positions of the head and right wrist.
The key to all of this is working slowly with half swings to create muscle-memory for the ideal positions for solid impact. Next are a few exercises to help develop this.
Use the 2×4 board to help you feel the move through impact. Make a half-swing and then slowly bring the clubhead into contact with the back of the board, taking care to move the weight to the left side, establish the “post” of left leg and hip, and simulate the impact position with the hands leading the clubhead. Then, using the shoulders and arms together, push the board slowly down the target line. Notice how the club and hands move past the left ‘post’ in Photo #4 where the chair stops forward movement of the hips. Do this ten times very slowly to get a feel for the impact position, and then hit a few balls with a wedge trying to make the identical moves. Don’t be concerned at all with where the ball goes—focus on positions and feel.
To simulate the impact position, without a club in your hands, go from the weight-balanced, glove-label up position in Photo #5, to the weight-left, glove-label down position of Photo #6, to the released glove-label left position of Photo #7. When you can progress smoothly from Photo #5 to Photo #7 positions, then repeat with a club until smooth, softly hitting balls with a wedge 10-15 yards. Once you have that down, which should take less than one practice session of 30 minutes, gradually progress up to 1/2 swings. Do not attempt to make full swings until the movement has become second nature … probably after several practice sessions over a week or so.