Tom Tucker’s Featured Golf Tip comes to us from Tom Tucker, teaching professional at Plum Creek driving range in Batavia.
Tom’s Featured Tip: Flat Left Wrist & Takeaway
For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties …. well, you know what to do!
Over the weekend I returned a call to a student that was having some problems visualizing and executing his takeaway.
He asked me if he should be cocking his wrists early in the takeaway or late in the takeaway, whether he should be setting up with a flat left wrist nor not, and what swing mechanics should he be thinking about during his takeaway and backswing.
I told him that I’ve never been an advocate of an early wrist cock – except for a couple of advanced specialty shots. Whether to set up with a flat left wrist or not depends on a couple of things, which I’ll address later, and I told him that it’s fine to be aware of mechanical thoughts during your practice swing – but as soon as you “step in” to the ball there should only be target awareness and making a smooth swing in your brain.
This particular student really wants to excel, which is fine as long as what he reads and visualizes is in conformance with how he has been taught to swing the club. The problem this student – and many students of the game – have, is when they read a tip in a magazine or hear something on a golf telecast and immediately try to incorporate it into their own swing pattern.
That’s usually a recipe for cognitive dissonance, and when that is present you can be overcome with self doubt and it becomes very difficult to put a good swing on the ball.
I really don’t know where the wrist cocking question came from, but as luck would have it this student was driving by the range yesterday and stopped to say hello after I completed a lesson. I asked him to swing a few times and he was doing something really funky with his wrists, a kind of odd wrist cock on his takeaway – and it wasn’t doing him any favors. After several poor swings, I asked him to not do anything at all consciously with his wrists during his swing, and “voila” he started hitting it pure again. He was a happy man.
Less is often more in golf.
I know that when I deliberately try to get extra wrist cock on a shot, it usually ends up bad – especially so with irons. On the other hand, I have taught several students that have flourished with a very deliberately applied wrist cock at the correct time in their backswing (late, not early on), especially with their driver.
Our game is a game of discovery, that means try out subtle nuances but don’t make wholesale changes for no good reason.
The flat left wrist is an absolute fundamental of the impact position in golf, every good instructor agrees on that. If you have an instructor that doesn’t agree with this fundamental, find a new instructor.
There are, however, setup options.
If a student plays with a strong left hand grip, his or her left wrist will be a little cupped at setup. This is acceptable as long as the student loads correctly in the backswing and delivers the shaft to the ball in a forward leaning position with a flat left wrist. Setting up with a little bit of cupping in the left wrist for longer clubs – including the driver – actually seems to promote a bit more lag in the downswing. As long as the shaft is delivered properly at impact, this can be a good thing.
For your scoring irons, distance control trumps pure distance. As such, I prefer that my students set up with the shaft already in a good forward leaning position, with a flat left wrist. This will produce a consistently solid “ball first” strike, and repeatable distances with your scoring irons.
A flat left wrist is a pre-requisite for good ball striking. If your left wrist is flipping through impact get it fixed and enjoy rockets off your clubface instead of weak floaters.
Love your practice, enjoy your golf, own your swing,