Winters here in Nebraska can be brutal at times…We are currently in sub-zero temperatures with no opportunity to practice, much less play outdoors. During the winter off-season months, I practice indoors in the weight/exercise room I have in my house. The room is set up with mirrors on 3 sides and high enough ceilings for me to practice full swings.
I always start sessions looking at my setup, top, and impact positions. I will then practice short impact drills, then move on to 3/4 and full swings. Next, I will focus on specific shortcomings I feel I need to work on…this year, it's alignment and steepness of the backswing and downswing. After I feel like I’m where I want my swing, I will use Face-On and Down-the-Line videos to verify my progress.
Practice vs Play:
In practice sessions, I will think about the swing positions…setup, backswing, top, downswing, impact, extension, and follow-through. This is PRACTICE…but even here, I only work on proper "STILL" swing positions briefly…Then, I will go on to dynamic drills.
Proper positions, for me, happen naturally through dynamic drills…Kirk Junge’s Impact and Full Swing Drills! The downswing of any golfer takes from .22 to .25 seconds! We simply do not have enough time to think of a single thought between the top of the swing and impact! While all of these positions in my practice matter, they only matter in the fact that they help me get to IMPACT…
IMPACT is the key to any golf swing! One could ask the question, “If impact is great, does it really matter how you get there”? My gut tells me that the answer is probably NO. But does that mean I shouldn’t practice them? My gut tells me again, probably, NO.
While positions help me get to impact, they are not the most important part of my golf swing. If you look at the best players in the world, they all have differing positions in their grips, postures, backswings, leverage, top, downswings, and follow-throughs…yet they are all very much the same at impact!
To me, it’s most important to get impact right! It's what I’m concentrating on when I play…not positions! So, when I practice…it’s OK to work on positions, but most of my time is spent working on impact! Now let's see what my winter practice session looks like...
Winter Practice Session:
Pic 1 - Setup looks good..15% side tilt, club shaft on a straight line to lead shoulder, head behind club head. I have my weight on my lead side 55/45. The feet turned slightly out. The trail elbow is pointed at my trail hip…
Pic 2 - Takeaway is smooth and in one piece. No excessive weight shift…in fact, I like to feel as though my weight stays slightly on my lead side. One of my best thoughts while practicing is to stay STILL…
Pic 3 - When the arms are horizontal to the ground, I am fully leveraged with the club at a 90° angle.
Pic 4 - Top…my lead wrist is flat, the club is square, and my wrists are fully hinged. The lead shoulder is down. There is no sliding of the body away from the ball…Stay STILL.
Pic 5,6 - Downswing…Leverage is maintained! I never think about lag…It just happens when the swing is sequenced properly. From the top, the first move is to get on my lead hip. You can see in pic 5, through impact, how I’ve moved towards the target. The second move from the top is to simply drop my arms while keeping my trail elbow in front of my trail hip. In Pic 6, I’ve maintained my leverage, and there is no early release of my hands…when my hands on the downswing reach my trail thigh, I want the club shaft no more than 90° to my arms.
Pic 7 - Impact…Hands leading ahead of the club head. Trail heel off the ground. Side Tilt is around 25°. Weight is fully on the lead side (hip/knee/foot). The head is behind the ball. My hips are turning to the target while the chest covers the ball, and my shoulders are square to the target. The low point of the swing arc is after contact.
Pic 8 - Extension…No breakdown of the arms…a “Y” is formed by the arms and club shaft…Hit Hard, Stop Quick Drill really accentuates this!
Pic 9, 10 - Finish…Balanced.
Winter Practice Session Down-the Line View:
Setup and Impact…I always start here!…making sure I’m starting and impacting on the same plane.
Staying on-plane in the backswing and downswing. My old 2-plane swing was very upright, and I sometimes have a tendency to get too vertical going back and coming down.
Alignment…I also have a tendency to get too closed in my stance at address…this comes from being a right-to-left player for the most part. So, I practice setting up square…However, on the course, I seem to hit the ball farther when I’m slightly closed with my feet at address and slightly pre-turn my hips away from the target…At age 72, this helps me turn better!
Pic 1, 3 - Setup…Club shaft on a straight line through the trail elbow = Club shaft angle will match my impact angle. Hands are in an ulnar deviated, uncocked position. Alignment is square = feet and shoulders are square to the target.
Pic 2, 10 - Impact…Club shaft is on a straight line through the trail elbow = Club shaft angle matches the club shaft angle I had at setup! My feet and shoulders are square to the target. My chest covers the ball. The trail hip is turning to the target. The trail heel is off the ground. The head stays stable throughout the swing.
Pic 4 -Takeaway... is one-piece, smooth and on-plane. There is no excessive weight shift…I like to feel like I’m staying STILL.
Pic 5 - Leverage…When the arms reach parallel to the ground on the backswing, I’m fully leveraged with the club shaft 90° to my arms.
Pic 6 - Top…My lead wrist is flat, fully hinged, and the club face is square. My lead shoulder is down. In this pic you can see that I’m a little above the plane…More to work on!
Pic 7, 8, 9 - Downswing…I’m still a little above the plane in Pic 7, but by Pic 9, I’m on plane! More to work on!
Pic 10 - Impact…ON-PLANE!
Dr. Chris Nix
**For more information on the One Plane Swing the One Plane Golfer eBook is available for sale on the home page of this site. It's a beautifully illustrated description of the One Plane Swing and how to apply it to your game.