The “Pick It Up and Turn” Golf Drill

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2011

How to get a dynamic, powerful swing


By Tom Ward

Instructor Extraordinaire


This week’s tip involves the artistry of picking the club off the ground prior to swinging it. Many golfers are guilty of dragging the clubhead across the surface of the grass when they make their backswing. There is nothing inherently wrong with that move unless is effects the flow and the swing path of your club. This drill will help rectify many mistakes that golfers make, dealing with everything from takeaway issues to posture problems.


Everyone wants more distance and control on their shots; I highly recommend you give this drill a try because it embodies both elements. I’m not going to lie to you; the drill is difficult. But if you put in some time the benefits far outweigh the initial frustration you may encounter.


First, set up over the ball like you’re about to make a swing. After you have gotten into your stance, bring the club upward from the ground to about waist-level high, similar to the photo of the golfer on the left side of the frame. The key is to make sure you stay in the same exact posture as at address. You can’t deviate from this position because it will affect your overall chances of making any type of decent contact with the ball. When the club is brought up from the ground the golfer has established the correct spine angle relative to his height. Also, I can’t over-emphasize the importance of keeping good knee flex in your swing from start to finish.

Put your shoulders into it, man

Next, once you’ve brought your club up you’re ready to make your backswing. Here’s where you will come to appreciate the feeling of how the shoulders work in the golf swing. Too many times I see golfers with a rocking (lateral) motion in their shoulders as they proceed to make their backswings. This is commonly called “swaying.” This type of motion will not only throw your swing off balance, it will also disrupt its flow. That move is what causes golfers to come out of their stance and posture. Your playing partners might comment it looked like you lifted your head. You didn’t mean to lift your head, but your body actions placed you in a no-win situation because you’re battling the law of physics.


Instead, once your club is up off the ground and your body has maintained its correct posture, all you have to do to start back from this position is to let your left shoulder (for right handed golfers) turn slightly downward toward the. This move creates a perfect chain reaction in your swing. When you do this with your left shoulder instead of your hands pulling the club back, you’ve empowered yourself tremendously to make a terrific backswing. That move will take the hands out of the equation so they can’t manipulate the clubhead.


Once you’ve placed your hands on the club, it’s time for them to just go for the ride and not to be involved in any aspect of hitting your shot. The motion created by this outstanding drill will automatically place the club on the correct swing path without any guidance. When you’ve taken the hands out of the equation by using the big muscles of your body to control the club instead of the small ones, this will make a big impact on your shots.


Words to the wise

Once you’ve gotten the momentum of the club going back, all you have to do is stay in your braced stance and maintain your posture. Let the laws of centrifugal force work to your advantage. “ Feel the force, don’t force the feel” is what I tell my students.


This is evident when you look at the middle photo. As you allow the club to go back against your solid foundation, your flexed right knee will act as a fulcrum and shock absorber to handle all the torque you’re placing on your body. In essence, you’ve become a human spring that is winding up and storing power. It’s critical that your right leg (for right handed golfers) remains flexed and braced – not buckling as you reach the top of your backswing. If your right knee/leg straightens, this will negate your ability to remain properly coiled, which translates into a power leakage on the downswing.


Think of a baseball pitcher. As he’s winding up he’s pivoting against his braced leg to stabilize his balance. Also, he’s coiling up to create a powerful chain reaction so his body will unwind in the correct sequence and release the ball with a lot of velocity. The principles apply to a golf swing.


Take a good look at the middle photo, as you can really see the fantastic “winding up” effect the golfer has created. If you look at all three photos you’ll see one central theme and that is the golfer has remained bent over from the waist from the start of his swing all the way to the top of his backswing. What that translates to is maximizing the ultimate spring-like effect in your golf swing.


Finally, the photo on the far right is the payoff. At impact the golfer can unload all the power he’s stored up back into the ball. All your diligent efforts will be handsomely rewarded with a screaming drive flying down the fairway. Once you’ve done this exercise a few times you’ll create a powerful golf swing that will re-energize your game. After awhile drop the club down a notch, lowering it after each swing until you’ve brought the club all the way back down to the ground. This will help you morph the drill into your actual swing; it’s a simple process that requires very little effort.


Ultimately, this exercise is going to help you create a smooth, dynamic and powerful swing requiring only a few simple movements. So give it a try – and who knows what you might “pick up” next time you’re out playing, It may be more distance and control, and a winning edge over your competitors.


Tom Ward can be reached at


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