What you can learn from Tommy Fleetwood’s secret weapon
Editor’s Note: Baden Schaff has been a PGA teaching professional for 17 years and is the co-founder of Skillest, a digital platform that connects golf students with golf coaches across the world for online lessons. To learn more about Skillest and to book a lesson of your own with Baden, head over to Skillest.com or download the app in the app store.
I’m a bit strange. I find beauty in what most people find mundane. Speaking of which: you know what I really love? Knockdowns! Or punch shots, if you prefer. At first glance they may seem like an entirely different shot, but they are effectively just an abbreviated version of your full swing.
We often use them in the wind when we want to really control our ball flight, reduce spin and keep the trajectory down. We also use them when we flare a drive into the trees and need to fly out next shot under a branch.
But have you ever noticed how well you hit them? Everyone does. Sometimes you will be standing under a tree on the right hand side of the hole, punch out a shot to take your medicine only to find that you have hit it so well that you are now under the tree on the other side of the fairway. You FLUSHED it.
Or have you ever noticed that you play quite well in the wind? I used to work at a Country Club where weather seemed like it should play a big role. It could be cold and windy then hot sunny within 24 hours. Yet scores never seemed to vary that much day to day. Shouldn’t the scores be higher in the wind? The reason is simple, golfers play with more control and less moving parts in the wind.
So what is a knockdown? I would say it is a shot with a body shape that doesn’t change, a little pressure on your left side and almost no wrist action. Who seems to be the greatest exponent of the knockdown in world golf? Everyone’s favorite Merseysider Tommy Fleetwood. The man with no follow through.
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The difference is Tommy does this all of the time. He doesn’t wait for the wind to blow before he gets control over the arms, body, shaft and consequently his club face. He fundamentally knows it’s the best way to play the game all of the time.
Now why is it hard for the average golfer to adopt the same principals? Because it doesn’t feel like a full swing. It feels compact and like we may be giving up on some power. On a perfectly sunny day with no wind, why would I need to hit a knockdown? But this is exactly why I notice scores improve much for recreational golfers in “good” scoring conditions, because golfers “go for it” shifting their body all over the place, turning far too much, changing their wrist angles and as a consequence compromising contact and consistency.
So how big is a full swing? That depends on what you are used to but what I can absolutely guarantee is that what you feel is a full swing is almost definitely excessive compared to Tommy’s. Next time you play, even if you need to sneak out and play 9 holes on your own, hit 6 iron where you usually hit 7 and wedge where you would usually hit SW. Knock them down and I think you will be amazed at not only your contact and distance control but how far you hit it.
So find beauty in the mundane, learn to love the punch and watch your game transform.