Have you ever heard the saying, “Let the club do the work for you” on the golf course or driving range? But had no clue what it actually meant?
If so, you’re in the right place. Golfers love to provide wisdom to other players, even if they’re not swing coaches and this is one of the more common pieces of advice.
While some advice is outdated like “Keep your head down” or “low and slow on the backswing” this piece of advice is still relevant. Today we’ll help you understand this simple piece of golf advice so you can improve your ball striking faster than ever before.
- Each golf club has loft which helps get the ball airborne.
- Loft changes drastically in each club – ranging from 9 to 60 degrees depending on each player’s specific preferences. Most players have a driver around 9 degrees and a sand or lob wedge near 60 degrees.
- The longer the club, the lower the loft which is the wedges have less loft than irons or woods.
- You need to learn how to trust the loft on your club so that you can make better contact and find the sweet spot more often.
Keep reading to hopefully make golf a little easier and improve your ball striking.
Understanding the design of a golf club will help you hit it better than ever. But a lot of golfers don’t read an article like this or ever get a golf lesson where a coach fully elaborates this concept.
A golf club is built to help hit the ball up in the air and travel a certain distance. The reason the ball gets airborne is because of the dynamic loft on the club.
As the PGA said, “The loft of a golf club is the angle created between the clubface and the ground. The more loft a golf club has the higher the ball will launch. In many ways, loft is your friend. It allows you to get the ball in the air easily.”
This part is key – loft is your friend. To take advantage of the loft of each club – especially irons and wedges – you need forward shaft lean.
This is when the shaft of the golf club is ahead of the hands and ball at impact position. It leads to compression and one of the few positions that great ball strikers have in common.
But most golfers try to help the ball up, known as scooping. This leads to having the hands back instead of ahead of the ball at impact. Which typically results in a thin or fat shot depending on where your weight is during the swing.
To let the club do its job and become a weapon, you need to focus on these things to achieve forward shaft lean.
A lot of mistakes happen before you even take the club away to begin your backswing. Getting your setup position dialed in is key to getting the most out of your swing and producing effortless distance.
To let the club do the work you need to think about a few things at the address position.
- Ball position. Make sure the ball is positioned correctly for the club you’re hitting. A lot of golfers move the ball up their stance in order to “help” the ball up in the air. But this actually defeats the purpose and changes the bottom point resulting in a lot of thin shots.
- Shoulder alignment Another important part of setup is alignment, not just your feet but shoulders too. If your shoulders are open, a common issue that a lot of golfers struggle with, can lead to an over the top move on the downswing. This leads to getting steep and not compressing the ball properly. Make sure your shoulders are square or even slightly closed to create more lag in the swing.
- Weight at address. Another mistake that so many golfers make is their weight at address and impact. If you’re hitting a shot off the turf/fairway/rough you need slightly more weight on your lead leg at address.
- Stance. Finally, make sure your stance isn’t too wide for the club you’re hitting. A wider stance makes it easy to sway and not rotate properly which results in a poor weight transfer.
When you’re in the right starting position it’ll make it much easier to let the club do its job during the swing.
Next, you need to consider how your weight shifts in the golf swing as an incorrect weight transfer can wreak havoc on your ball striking if not done properly.
Less is more when it comes to weight transfer. Too many golfers try to get all their weight to the back leg and laterally sway vs. rotate around their leg. If you watch the best players in the world you’ll notice they have minimal lateral movement but instead have plenty of hip/shoulder rotation.
Most of your weight should be on your back leg by the time the club is parallel to the ground on the backswing. Then you want to feel as though you’re pushing down to start the downswing and get most of your weight to your lead leg.
Hanging back on your trail leg leads to scooping and hitting up on the golf ball.
Having the right tempo and rhythm is also key to improving your ball striking. One of the best examples of a smooth swing is Louis Oosthuizen who creates effortless power.
In a Golf.com article he talked about the importance of not snatching the club back to benign the backswing. To help him stay consistent on the backswing he suggests players develop a “tempo trigger.”
“As soon as I settle into my stance, I press my hands toward the target, letting some of my weight shift to my left foot. Then I start the club back, shifting the weight back to my right foot. I’ll often do it while counting in my head: “1”—settle, “2”—press, “3”—swing.”
This trigger helps improve his weight shift, add more fluidity to his backswing, and not get quick on the takeaway. This move also allows you to add some more movement sort of like a waggle to begin your backswing.
Another important thing to remember when letting the club do the work is the role of your trail hand in the swing. In this YouTube video (which is pretty funny and educational too) the instructor compares an ax to a golf club. Both a club and ax have most of the weight at one end – the right hand (assuming you’re a right-handed player) plays a small role in either move.
If you think about swinging an ax the goal is to get the tool moving then let the weight of it do the rest of the work on the downswing. The same goes with golf – the right hand doesn’t do a ton on the backswing. On the downswing the goal is to create a little bit of lag/power but it really doesn’t have an overly active role.
In the video he even suggests golfers take some swings at the driving range and let the right hand off the club before impact. This drill emphasizes the importance of the left hand as the lead hand so it can accelerate properly. Just like the role of the trail hand in using an ax to cut wood, it’s only playing a part as the club changes direction in transition.
As mentioned in the video Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh are two great examples of this trail hand position. By having a little less grip pressure on the downswing with your trail hand can help acceleration and improve clubhead speed at impact.
If you’ve made it this far you’re well on your way to hitting a lot of solid golf shots. But there’s one thing we can’t forget to mention – the release of the golf club.
If you release it early you’ll lose out on a ton of power. And you don’t want to flip the club through impact either.
You want to keep your body rotating through the ball so your belt buckle is facing the target as you finish the swing. This will allow the hands to work behind the body as the lower body starts the downswing.
Check out our full guide on releasing the golf club now.
Earlier on in my golf career I tried to assist the ball up in the air and didn’t trust the loft. I also had a lot of weight shift issues which led to a ton of thin shots (more than I care to remember).
While you don’t need to know every aspect of the golf swing as it’s wildly complicated, this is an important issue. The sooner you realize the club will do its job for you and you don’t need to help it, the better.
Clubs are designed to help get the ball airborne, don’t try to help anymore with a front ball position or weight on your back leg. You must hit down on the ball to get it up in the air. This will create forward shaft lean which is a common position among great players.
To recap – a club has plenty of loft and will help you hit the shot you want. Whether it’s a high draw or a low fade, but you have to get into the right impact position.
The biggest mistakes most everyday golfers make are:
- Wrong setup position – ball too far forward.
- Improper weight transfer – too much weight on the back leg.
- Quick and jerky takeaway – which throws off timing and tempo.
When you avoid these issues and release it properly you can start hitting it better than ever. Just remember, the club wants to help you so let it happen.