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Down and Through

The Follow-Through

Just as the goal of a business project is the bottom line, the goal of the golf swing should be to get to the blooming finish. I can't emphasize this enough. The finish position is a statement of intent on how and where you want to hit the shot. If you finish the way you have envisioned, it's almost certain the ball will have gone where you wanted it to. On the other hand, if you finish like Quasimodo, out of balance and toppling over, your shot will almost certainly have been a disaster.

Think in terms of "collecting" the ball during the swing rather than hitting it, as if the ball merely gets in the way of your clubhead as you move to a strong finish. In a perfect finish, almost all of your weight will be on the left side, with the right foot on point and the right knee kissing the left. Your right shoulder will be the closest part of your body to the target. The back should be straight, with no hint of the reverse-C ­finish position that used to characterize the swings of Johnny Miller and others. I believe that finishing with an arched back will eventually wear out your spine.

An excellent drill for working on the follow-through is to address the ball normally, push your hands forward to impact position (slightly ahead of the ball, with your head and shoulders still a bit behind it) and move from there directly to the finish. Scrape the ball toward the target as you do so, and hold the finish for a full five seconds while imagining the ball flying at the green and landing close to the hole. If you do this a dozen times and then actually hit a ball, I guarantee you'll be amazed at the results.

Nick Faldo On the Air

Nick Faldo's commentary can be heard on these ABC golf telecasts: November 5–6: Tour Championship (East Lake Golf Club) November 26–27: Merrill Lynch Skins Game (Trilogy Golf Club)

Three Keys to a Sound Downswing

1) Allow the downswing to un-wind slowly from the top. Don't rush it. An extra half heartbeat of time at the top is often the secret to great rhythm.

2) Accelerate the right side of the body aggres­sively through impact while fully re­leas­ing the hands and arms.

3) Follow through to a balanced finish. Your right shoulder should be the closest part of your body to the target.

Right-arm Drill

This is a terrific drill both for improving your timing and developing the feel for a proper release. It's tough to get the hang of, so start by making a backswing with both hands on the club and remove the left hand shortly before reaching the top; then make a zippy downswing using only the right arm and without hitting a ball. When you've mastered that, tuck your left arm behind your back before beginning the backswing and try to hit balls off a tee using a seven-iron. With practice, you should hit some straight shots.

When swinging with only one arm, you lack the strength to start the downswing prematurely; you have to wait for the club to slow and change direction on its own. Also, the centrifugal force of the swing pushes the right hand away from the right shoulder through impact—that is, it compels you to truly release the club. This fights the tendency of many amateurs to muscle the club through impact, holding it too close to the body and thus swinging from outside to in, usually resulting in a slice.

Swinging with the left arm only is also great for training a good release.

Thumbs-up Drill

This drill is lots of fun and helps develop feel for crisp, controlled, center-of-the-clubface contact. Set up normally with a nine-iron, keep your knees firm and make a relaxed half backswing until your thumbs point to the sky.

Then fire through the ball to a finish with your thumbs again pointing to the sky. By taking only a short swing and quieting the body, all the focus goes to ball striking. The goal is to generate as much clubhead speed as possible but without tensing up, being violent or losing control. It's all about rhythm and timing, not power. The more balls you hit this way (it's easy on the body), the more "pure" hits you'll experience and the deeper your understanding of an ideal release will become.

One tip: Focus on sound. See how loud you can make that ball-turf crunch. Another trick is to imagine there's sandpaper on the clubface and you're trying to skin the cover off the ball; perfect that, and your shots will dance with backspin on the greens.

The Faldo Golf Institutes
Chip Koehlke, U.S. Director of Instructional Programs

The curriculum at Faldo Golf Institutes is built around fundamentals. Each site offers schools, private lessons and club-fitting sessions.

Marriott's Grande Vista; Orlando, FL
Marriott's Shadow Ridge; Palm Desert, CA
Seaview Marriott Resort; Galloway Township, NJ
Marco Island Marriott Resort; Marco Island, FL
Brocket Hall Golf Club; Hertfordshire, England

For the U.S. institutes, call 888-463-2536 or visit gofaldo.com. For Brocket Hall, call 011-44/1707-368-786 or visit brocket-hall.co.uk.

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