The difference between tour players and amateurs when playing feel shots and not full shots is body rotation or, as I refer to it, ‘pivot’.
The body must pivot through the shot for pure contact. If the hands and arms are guided through impact leaving the hips (belt buckle) facing the ball then you’re encouraging the club to bottom out early, leaving the strike thin or heavy.
This arm swing is played in an effort to lift the ball instead of pivoting through the shot, allowing the natural loft of the club to take effect.
How to cock and pivot
I have set myself with weight favouring my left side (above, left), encouraging the low point of my swing to be consistent.
I have not turned my body much on the backswing although I have cocked my left wrist creating a 90-degree angle between my clubshaft and left arm.
Cocking of the wrist adds loft and creates leverage. Then (above, right), I’ve pivoted through impact leading with the hips while keeping weight on my left side.
This cock and pivot action requires no assistance from the hands to lift the ball. Simply cock the club back then pivot the body through.
Top US coach Stan Utley coaches a very similar method to Graeme McDowell. Next time you see G-Mac pitching, note his technique.
Get the point
As the images progress above, you will note how my body has pivoted through the shot.
Gripping the club in my right hand and pointing my left index finger onto my belt buckle, I’ve taken a practice swing aiming to pivot my body towards the target, allowing the left hand and belt buckle to rotate out of the way.
If I swing with arms and hands only, my club will have no room to pass through impact. When trying this on the range you will immediately feel how aggressive the body needs to turn for a pure ball strike.
Don’t be surprised at how much rotation is required for such a short shot. Pivoting through will leave the hands and arms feeling very soft and quiet.
Steve Johnston is the PGA professional at Peebles GC. For lessons, call Steve on 01721 720197. You can also follow him on Twitter @mrstevejohnston.