Justin Thomas’ pre-shot takeaway drill, explained

"It’s saved me a lot, because if the clubhead ever gets behind my hands, I’m usually toast."

(NBC)

Welcome to Play Smart, a new game-improvement column that drops every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from Managing Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen to help you play smarter, better golf.

Justin Thomas raced into the lead at the 2020 U.S. Open, and at times looked totally unfazed by the challenges posed by Winged Foot. He ranked inside the top 10 both in Fairways Hit and Greens in Regulation en-route to a five-under 65.

And before every one of those full shots, without fail, was his signature pre-shot swing drill.

As you can see, the drill itself is pretty simple. He makes his takeaway, stops when the club his parallel to the ground, looks at it, then resumes his setup and hits the ball.

The move started as a drill and since turned into something of a waggle. Now, it’s an integral part of his pre-shot routine — something he attributed his round one success to.

“I was focused. I was sticking to my routine and playing every shot, as opposed to getting ahead of myself,” he said after his round.

I’ve always been curious about it, and I finally got a chance to ask him about it for a story we did together last year. JT said his tendency is to take the club away too inside on the takeaway, with a closed clubface, which would often result in blocks and push-hooks.

This simple drill helps keep the club in front of you. It’s saved me a lot, because if the clubhead ever gets behind my hands, I’m usually toast.

Hence the drill, which is pretty straightforward. In JT’s own words:

Get into your setup, stretch the club out in front of you, then rotate back. Check that the clubhead is in line with your hands when the shaft is parallel to the ground. Next, return to address and make your normal swing.

It’s a pretty foolproof drill, one a vast majority of recreational golfers can benefit from themselves.

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Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is an English-American who oversees the brand’s service journalism content across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms. An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. Following graduation, he spent two years as a digital editor at Golf Digest before spending three years as a Senior Editor at USA Today.