Fan it for more distance

Published 11/10/2010 07:52:00

Straight hitters looking for more distance often try to increase their turn. Sound familiar? If so, you're on the right track. But if those extra yards aren't appearing, then your turn isn't getting any bigger, despite your efforts. Chances are you're only increasing the tilting of your shoulders in the backswing, which leads to a choppy downswing and weak slices. You'll find it easier to make a full turn if you allow the clubface to fan open during the backswing. Try this experiment and you'll understand why.


With a long iron, assume your normal grip and stance. Pretend you're addressing a ball. Without changing your grip on the club, turn your hands to the right so the blade runs directly along your imaginary target line, as if you intend to hit the ball with the back of the hosel. It may feel strange, but concentrate on your right side. Notice how your right shoulder has dropped and the right elbow has folded? Fanning the club has cleared your right side so you can make a turn. Lift the club to the top and see how easily your shoulders turn when you start with the club fanned open.


Toe at the Sky When the Club Is Hip-High

You're not going to play with the club fanned open at address, so how can you bring the fan to your swing? Start with this thought: Toe at the sky when the club is hip-high. When the club has reached the 9 o'clock position on the backswing, with the shaft parallel to the ground and pointed toward the target, the toe of the club should point straight up at the sky. At this point, the club is fanned open, your right shoulder is passive, and your right elbow is folding. Complete the backswing for a full shoulder turn.


To get to the proper hip-height position, set up with your hands even or slightly behind the ball at address. Don't manipulate the club with your hands to fan it open during the take-away.


Control the movement with your shoulders, taking the club straight back along the target line while maintaining the angle formed in the back of your left wrist. If you relax the right side while making a clockwise rotation of the torso, the clubface will fan open naturally.


If you're worried that fanning the club will cause a slice, don't. Swing through. You'll find it simple to square and release the club through impact if you have the square to slightly open position at the top that comes with correct fanning.


Drill: The Pump

To get the feeling for how fanning the club frees us your shoulders, try the pump: Address a ball normally, except start at the nine o'clock position of the backswing, with the hands at hip-height and the toe of the club pointing toward the sky. Now you're in the fanned position. Lift the club smoothly to the top, then back down to the nine o'clock position, then back to the top and swing through and hit the ball. The pumping movement isolates your shoulders, therefore maximizing their contribution to the swing.


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