Tom’s Tip this week: One Armed Drill

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, September 2nd, 2017


The drill this week is one I started doing back in the early
1980’s. One of my mentors was a great PGA Master Professional named
Harold Calderwood who would routinely hit one-armed shots with his
left hand and then alternate and hit shots with his right hand during
our get togethers. He could easily hit drives over 200 plus yards with
great accuracy…..and with either hand which was really impressive
especially considering he was in his mid 70’s.
Watching him hit shots flush with control, and seemingly little
effort, while maintaining great balance throughout the swing really
made an impression on me.
Harold taught me the technique which came in handy a few years
later when I started to teach physically challenged golfers who had
lost arms.
In the photo sequence I have a friend named Mike Bacsik
demonstrating the drill. Bacsik was a former major league pitcher for
the Rangers and Twins and is now an avid golfer and a very
knowledgeable student of the game.
Bacsik had been struggling of late with inconsistency. He pitched
right handed in the major leagues, and is a right handed golfer, so
asking him make swings with his left hand was going to be a challenge.
The top left photo highlights Mike making the backswing with his
left hand only. He was struggling with a “too handsy” takeaway ….
prematurely cocking his wrists too early while making an upward
transition into the backswing. The adjustment was to allow the left
arm to swing back without cocking or breaking the wrists. This move
allowed the club to go on a natural inside path.
He was now allowing the club to follow the correct swing path
relative to his body posture (more inside than outside) which he was
doing previously. That caused him to get too steep on the
backswing…over swinging and getting to long and loose with the club.
When swinging the club with only the left hand you will find out
quickly that taking the club too far back, with the wrist cocked too
much, results in loss of control.
Mike quickly learned that lesson once he began to utilized the
left hand and arm working as one unit… taking the club in the
correct sequence and path.
The top photo on the right is Mike at the critical moment of
impact. You can see how he has stayed in posture throughout the swing
never deviating from the initial setup. His head is down and shoulders
are square at impact which is vitally important because it shows how
the club is returned to the same position as the initial setup where
the shoulders were square. Prior to this Mike was spinning out of
shots….the left shoulder and left hip were too far open (aiming way
left of the intended target at impact). With the shoulders being
square at impact he can deliver a powerful and accurate swing into the
ball. I’ve drawn a line by his shoulders to highlight that they are
square at impact.
The bottom photo is the big payoff. Stay patient and allow the
laws of physics, and not brute strength, to work to your advantage.
Take a look at the right leg and knee….see how they are driving down
and through the shot well past impact. With your lower body helping to
initiate the downswing by creating a pulling action, instead of a
hitting action, you are well on your way to becoming a proficient shot
maker. Again the shoulders are still relatively square which is
impressive because the golf club has traveled to hip level high long
after the golf ball has left the clubface. Having the ability to stay
down past impact is the trademark of great ball strikers throughout
the history of the game. Mike’s head is still down long past impact
which is the sign of a text book swing.
It’s instinctive in the beginning to want to use the entire body
to try and hit the ball as you feel awkward and limited swinging with
only one hand.
Also, it’s imperative when doing this drill to use leverage to
your advantage. By allowing the club to swing back naturally, instead
of trying to lift or manipulate the club head, you are creating a
dynamic sequence that will empower you. Once the club has completed
its backswing the key is to keep the shoulders passive and allow the
momentum to come surging downward into the area where your golf ball
is sitting. By just letting the arm swing through without any
restrictions the club will return back to the ball at a shallower
angle of attack. The golf ball will be hit squarely on the face of the
club head with seemingly minimal effort on your part.
Remember, to play great golf you learn by feel…and to learn
feel you need to understand the correct motion. The golf ball doesn’t
care if you are swinging with one arm or two. That’s why top amateur
golfers, who have lost an arm, continue to play at a high level with
single digit handicaps and routinely beat their opponents who have
both arms.


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