One of my teachers, Jim Knego, the eminent pro at Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa CA, took a look at my swing once and noticed I was pulling everything left. His prescription was to hold off the club face at impact. And once I got the hang of it, it worked. Of course, in the din of daily life and its trials and tribulations, my addled brain eventually forgot that sage advice, and not only did the pull return, but so did a (hide your eyes!) shank, which is a poor relation to the pull. I’ve cured the shank, but the pull raises its ugly head more often than I wish, now that I’m back at the game after a couple of life threatening illnesses. So taking a deep dive into my memory pool for a solution, Jim appears again staring right into my mind’s eye, telling me to hold off that bloody club face. Jim, by the way, is old school, using no trakmen, computer, or any device other than his trained eye to spot a flaw and come up with a fix. If you’re over Santa Rosa way, give him a call. Great muni as well.
Now, what the heck is “holding off at impact”? It is simply resisting the tendency to turn the club face over via pronation of the right and left forearms and wrists. Pronation, understand, is not a bad thing. If it’s well-timed it can add all-around distance to your game. It can help cure a slice as well. But getting the timing down takes a lot of practice and a sound body to handle that practice. It’s a handsy swing, with a bit too much emphasis on the arms, wrists and hands. When pulled off, the turned-over move feels great, and the results can be satisfying. When not executed properly, you’re usually in left rough–or woods–or far left of the green for a right-hander.
So the idea of holding off is to block the arms and hands from turning over at impact. You literally hold the club face square as you come into the hitting area. The pronation happens after you’ve gotten through impact. All other swing fundamentals stay the same. You might lose a bit of distance with this technique so you’ll need to refigure your average distances with irons and hybrids. With the driver, what you lose in distance, you will gain in accuracy and a much greater chance of hitting fairways, an essential to better golf, translating as more fun.
The feel I work towards to getting this shot right is to think of the right hand staying behind the left at impact and not turning it over the left. The ball then has a better chance of hitting the sweet spot, giving you more control, as well as decent distance. It’s something Hogan worked hard at, finally achieving a baby fade which took the left side of any given hole out of play. He was plagued with a pull hook early in his career that almost drove him out of the game. As Trevino once quipped “You can talk to a fade, but a hook just won’t listen.”
This is an easy shot to practice at the range, even on mats, and once you get the concept down, doesn’t require many reps to get it grooved. It just takes concentration since with golf, as with anything new you’re trying to learn, the tendency is to return to a default position or action. That’s likely to happen if you give up on the hold off swing too soon. You flub a few, throw your arms up, blurting “f… it, this is not for me.” Stay with it, especially if your pull is chronic. It takes some time to adapt to it.
You can also practice this move at home in front of a mirror, or anywhere, without a club. Just make sure your trailing hand is positioned behind the forward hand at impact. Get that feel down, and you’ve got it. Then take it to the range, followed by a tryout on the course. I think you’ll be pleased with the results. I’m still working on consistency with this technique, but the more I practice its fundamentals, the better I get. What I know is I’m hitting more fairways and greens, and that’s gooood.
No guarantees, of course, but with golf instruction, are there ever any guarantees?
The PGA and Korn Ferry Tours start back up this week, sans on-site fans. This makes golf the first major sport to resume play after the pandemic shutdown. The LPGA starts again in late July. For the PGA, it’ll be one of the strongest fields for a regular season event since 2007. The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial will feature the top five players in the world, along with 101 PGA Tour winners. Should be a corker, as the old-timers say in New Hampshire. It’ll certainly be great seeing the guys back in action. Tiger unfortunately will not be in the field. I’m sure he’s focused on one thing: defending his Masters title in the fall. Just three more majors to tie Jack.
Predictions? I’ll stick with a safe pick at this point in the oddest golf season in history: Rory.
Continue to stay safe, my dear readers. If you venture out to play, and I hope you do, follow the guidelines of social distancing and using caution in the pro shop and clubhouse. This virus is still out there. But not much need for a mask on the course, unless you’re in a situation where it is advised. Be well, y’all. Enjoy life.
Please check out my new Equipment Reviews section on this site. I’ve got some clubs and fitness devices I think you might be interested in, and will be adding to over time. It’s available via the Menu on the initial page. Thanks.