Eliminate early extension to improve ball striking

By Michael Bolt, PGA Professional at Trump International Golf Club, Dubai

Early extension is an extremely common issue that can manifest due to a number of different causes. It is by far one of the most destructive ‘moves’ that can be produced during the golf swing and can be the route cause of many issues including the below:

  • Inconsistent contact on face  of the club.
  • Inconsistent attack angle into the golf ball.
  • Inconsistent club path/inability to swing the club through impact with any kind of proper arc.
  • Loss of ability to create downforce and  utilise the ground.

When we look at the initial posture, the aim is to hold the angles created the best we can during the impact position. Although these angles will change during the swing, early extension is when these angles break down too early, resulting in a ‘weak’ and unrepeatable impact position.

Drive the hips

As we can see from these images, the hips have ‘thrusted’ toward the ball, resulting in the top half of the body moving away, and the spine angle completely breaking down. As a result, the hips have not driven towards the target and there is very little space for the golf club to exit in a square or neutral position. At this point golfers will often have to react and make adjustments resulting in an impact position, which is unsustainable.

Best strikers

The best ball strikers will maintain these angles on every swing, using the trail leg to utilise the ground, creating downforce. The key to this is to bump the front hip forward, thus creating space to work the club into. Hopefully, the right leg will then not ‘kick’ towards the ball, making it easier to retain the angles created in the posture.

Below are two simple drills that can help you with the feeling of using the lower half of the body better and therefore developing more awareness of how to keep posture during impact.

Drill 1

Place an alignment rod in the ground, parallel to your feet. Ensure it is pointing low enough to allow the club to move freely beside it.

When hitting shots try to get the feeling of the left hip ‘bumping’ forward and preventing the right leg moving towards the golf ball.

Drill 2

Once feeling comfortable with this, now try to concentrate more on the trail leg/foot. Here we want the right leg to work the weight to the inside of the foot. Often players who early extend, struggle with the weight shifting onto the toes, forcing the early extension into the ball.

Place a towel or headcover under the right foot, feeling the weight in the heel. Aim to keep the weight working down into the ground through impact, whilst working the hips inside the alignment rod. This will encourage the hips to ‘squat’ into the ball again, aiding the process of maintaining posture.

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