|Lexi Thompson, who turned pro at age 15, at impact.|
|This is the move that gets Lexi in trouble. Her right arm is behind her hip in this shot. Players who get into this position have a couple of options. Some will spin their hips out of the way to create space and some do what Lexi does and pop up.|
|Here is Ko at the same time in the downswing and her right elbow is already in front of her hip. She is swinging freely and is not stuck behind her hip. Her chest is covering the ball beautifully. She makes this move as well as any woman golfer today. The last female I saw that looked this good on the down swing was Annika, who also freely delivered her arms, hands and club to the ball while rotating strongly to the left side.|
Strength in athletes doesn't have to mean big muscles. We train to develop our muscles for golf, but golf strength is also reliant upon using what you have correctly. If we learn moves in our swing that are incorrect, we will need more strength to offset them than if we learned correctly. Balance and support are crucial to strength in the golf swing. With that in mind, let's talk about covering the ball.
Stand with your hands up, as though you were being robbed. Your shoulders and arms should look like the bottom of a square. Now, put your body into golf posture and turn back and through. Keep the relationship of your arms and shoulders intact. As your trunk turns, your elbows remain away from your body and your shoulders remain wide. As your trunk turns from the top to the target, can you feel how your chest works out and down? That motion is covering the ball.
In talking with players, they often feel that covering the ball means that the chest quits turning, but it is exactly the opposite. Rotation is what allows us to move our chest down and over the ball. When rotation stops, the chest raises up and our spine angle is lost.
Many young players get in trouble when their shoulders turn without supporting the arms. In other words, they start the club back and immediately lose the relationship between their ribs and their elbows. Imagine starting your back swing as though you are tossing something heavy. Having grown up in Iowa, I know that kids on the farm often throw bales. They don't do it with strength, they do it with balance and leverage. If young players start their swing with their arms alone, their strength will be used for compensation of poor positions. Here is Lydia Ko at aged 12. She obviously doesn't have the strength of a golfer such as Tiger Woods, but her trunk supports her shoulders, her shoulders support her arms, her arms support her hands and her hands support her club. This relationship is what creates the strength needed for a good golf swing at any age.
|Lydia Ko at age 12 at the top of her swing. She has great balance at the top!|
|Lydia Ko in her downswing. This picture shows her upper right arm in a straight up and down position and the elbow is in front of her hip. This allows her to cover the ball.|
|Ko's finish position once again shows a wide left elbow supported by her shoulders. Her arms don't swing around her body, they swing with and in front of her chest.|
The simplest way to work on this in your swing is to do some drills to feel a good turn. One is the Hobo Drill. Address the ball and simply toss the club onto your right shoulder without turning or swinging. With the shaft of the club on your shoulder, turn back. At the top, gently extend your hands away from your right ear to get some width and swing down and through. This will give you the feeling of turning your trunk instead of using your arms to turn your upper body. Another drill that has worked in teaching this move is to put a shaft across a player's hips that extends a few inches outside the right pocket. Have the player swing up and back down making sure to get the elbows over the shaft. This will create a feel that is brand new if the player routinely gets stuck. It often makes them think they are coming over the top of the ball, but it is simply a cover position that is unlike what they have felt in the past.
|I like the position of the right elbow on this down swing. I believe it is Matt Kuchar. Once again, the trunk supports the shoulders, the shoulders support the arms and the arms support the hands. I especially like the move to get the club in position. His chest simply turns to the ball and his arms stay with it. His is a flat swing and it all still works well.|