This might be one of the fastest and most effective drills you can do to transform your ball striking
– November 16, 2023 | Text Scott Cranfield
Occasionally, there are some interesting shortcuts that really can help you play a better game of golf, and understanding how to use the clubface effectively is one such area that can lead to fast improvement.
If you are losing control of your shots and not striking the centre of the clubface, please take on board this practise, as I can almost guarantee you will hit the ball better (I would guarantee it if I worked with you personally or virtually).
Too often we allow the clubface to rotate too much in the swing, and this makes it hard to deliver the clubface squarely at impact. You might be familiar with the ball flight laws which state that, for an iron, approximately 80% of the ball’s starting direction is down to the clubface alignment at impact, not the direction of the swing as we might think. So, learning to deliver the clubface squarely can have an instant benefit to your shots, and it might be easier than you think.
What is equally interesting is that by focussing on the clubface and learning to manage it, your swing path and plane will also improve, which, of course, will come with further benefits.
This is where the hammer and nail analogy comes in. If you were striking a nail into a piece of wood, the surface of the hammer which is going to strike the nail would remain looking at the head of the nail as you swung the hammer back ready to strike.
Now put that learning into a golf swing … too much rotation so the clubface is not looking at the ball makes it harder to deliver the clubface square at impact.
Of course, the golf swing is longer than a hammer swing, so your clubface won’t literally stay looking at the ball, but I will explain here why it is still a very useful concept …
Let’s start to discover how you can use this analogy to improve your golf swing by going through the following drill:
Step 1: Invert your clubhead so the toe points forward, then grip the club (photo 1).
Step 2: with the clubhead in this inverted position, set up to a ball, you’re not going to hit it! (photo 2) I am demonstrating here with the addition of an alignment stick to represent a nail (it creates a good visual image).
Step 3: practise swinging just halfway back, putting your focus on the clubhead’s toe end and treating it like a hammer that needs to strike a nail. If you do this well, it will feel natural for the toe to be still looking towards the ball/alignment stick (nail) on the ground. (photo 3)
In order to maintain this more stable clubface position, it might feel like your wrists have worked very differently, creating more of a hinging feeling in the back of your trail wrist. This is going to be an important feeling to have as you return the clubface to its normal position.
Step 4: for some, this stage of the swing is the most challenging … complete your backswing (photo 4) and then, as you start swinging back to impact, continue to be aware that the end of the club (your hammer) is still pointing at the ball/alignment stick (your nail). At the halfway down position, the toe of the club should be looking at the ball; (photo 5) in other words, it should feel as if there is zero manipulation required to strike the ball/alignment stick squarely with the end of the club.
I am advising you to go through this motion slowly and to start with pause to check that the end of the club is being a ‘good’ hammer and looking at its target. However, after a while, try to do it all by feel without looking or pausing.
As I mentioned above, you are likely to experience a new feeling in your wrists. It is also likely your swing will feel shorter and more compact – this is also a good sign.
Once you have established these new feelings, return the club to its normal position and gently begin to strike some shots. The key thing is to focus your attention on the clubface and get the sense that it remains looking at the ball throughout the upswing and downswing. It won’t literally do this, but it is a good feeling to bring more stability and control to your swing and, therefore, your shots.
Practise this mindfully and you will find the centre of the clubface more often!
I hope you enjoy this tip.
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Scott Cranfield is a PGA Master Coach. For over 30 years, he has dedicated his life to helping golfers achieve their goals through a natural approach that embraces the true laws of how the human mind and body work. Scott’s unique approach has led to the creation of multiple training programmes, and the experience of coaching every standard of golfer from complete beginners through to Ryder Cup players. As well as enjoying a long TV career with Sky Sports and Setanta TV, in 2011 Scott was honoured with the award of PGA Master Professional & Coach.