My Golf Instructor

Shift & Turn Your Way To Better Distance
Driver Swing vs. Iron Swing

When a student is hitting their irons well and having trouble with the driver, I am reminded of a comment a colleague mentioned to me straight from one of the finest teachers ever, Harvey Penick. He said that a golfer can hit his irons pretty well without shifting his weight, but to hit the driver well, the golfer must shift his weight.

I imagined that Harvey realized that the golfer's hands and arms can swing the shorter club in sync with the turning body, but not as easily with the longest club in the bag. The body usually gets too far ahead of the club in the downswing.

Load Up For a Good Turn

When you shift your weight with the swinging of the club (happens more "naturally" than you might imagine!) in the beginning of the takeaway, you will set up a right side axis...a one-legged balance, which now frees the left side to turn outward behind the golf ball. This not only gives more time for the club to get to the top of the backswing, but also permits a good torso turn.

Now, as it is in the backswing, it is in the forward swing. A change of axis and weight shift from the right foot to the left foot starts the forward swing with the swinging of the club for the same reasons. Turning the body first would not allow enough time for the club to return to the golf ball and would likely create a bottom of arc off of the right foot behind the ball. The dreaded fat shot. Creating the left side axis not only produces speed (thus...distance!), but also a bottom of swing opposite the left heel. The left axis, a one-legged balance, also frees up the right side (shoulders and hips) to finish up on the right toe and even with the left side. A step and throw motion, just like other sports.

This critical transitional movement is a feeling of going toe to heel. The weight at the top of the backswing is felt on the right heel (certainly acceptable to sense that your right hip is slightly outside your outer right heel...this is not a sway!) and slightly left knee inward with weight on the flexed left leg towards the left ball of foot. To start the forward swing, the golfer plants his left heel, allowing the weight to shift. The left leg extends and the right leg goes into flexion. A good, kinetic chain order of movement is established for a good hit and photo finish.

Learn how to load up on your back swide for power. Load Up For Power

Learn how to shift your weight to the front foot to create more speed and better contact. Shift For Speed

Learn how to flow to your finish for smooth acceleration. Finish Uninterrupted

One Flow For Power - Not Segmented Pieces

The club and arms will start down at the same time the heel is are one flow, not a bunch of segmented pieces in this blended swing motion. Sam Snead was notorious for planting his left heel in long driving fact he said he slammed his left heel down with such great force to start his downswing to hit it long that he tore his Achilles tendon. He then continued to do this to play professionally, just not as aggressively.

There are several ways to "get" this weight transfer ideal. Some like to think of shifting their center of gravity to the right and left and others think of a lower spine shifting from right to left in a "wrecking ball" kind of image. This will not be a "sway" as long as it is a right side load with a turn and a left side load with a turn. The sequence of shift-turn on the backswing and shift-turn on the forward swing should help you "get your shift together"! Many sport throwing and striking actions incorporate the same sequencing...continue this athleticism with your golf swing and you will be on your way to more solid (not to mention longer) drives!

Deb Vangellow
Deb Vangellow

Deb Vangellow is a LPGA Master Professional and teaches at Riverbend Country Club in Houston, Texas. She is the 2012 LPGA National Teacher Of The Year, an LPGA and Golf Digest Woman Top 50 Teacher and a Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine Top Regional Teacher. Deb serves as the National Vice President of the LPGA Teaching And Club Professionals. Learn more about Deb Vangellow at

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