Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a new GOLF.com series in which we share improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.
If you find yourself often hitting the heel of the club during a round of golf, there’s a good chance you instantly lose your confidence, making it difficult to trust yourself to finish strong.
But instead of just trying to put some patchwork changes together in real time as a band-aid, it’s time to identify why you’re really hitting the heel.
In the video above, GOLF Teacher to Watch Jonathan Buchanan does just that, explaining a common issue he sees in many of his students’ swings who hit the heel, and then providing a quick-fix in order to hit better shots.
Why many golfers hit the heel
As Buchanan says, the first thing he looks for when a student struggles with hitting the heel is their trail arm.
While there are other reasons why players hit the heel, the position of the trail arm is typically where the problem begins.
“Oftentimes a golfer will take their trail arm back and bend it, leaving their center at home,” he says. “So instead of swinging the arms or turning the body in conjunction with the arms swinging, they pull their arms behind them.”
This is why your rotation and pivot are so important.
If you’re only swinging your arms and not fully turning your hips, you’re most likely producing an outside-in swing path.
Another issue that Buchanan sees when players don’t swing their arms with the rest of their body? They try to react by pushing the club out towards the ball.
“When I have my trail arm pinned behind me, I often see an amateur react to that by pushing the club out,” he adds. “So they’ll take the arm that’s behind them and try to find some space by straightening and pushing the heel at the ball.
“This often causes a shank or a heeled shot off to the right.”
How to stop hitting the heel
So how can you correct this issue of hitting the heel? It all starts with incorporating your arms, allowing them to stay loose and swing with the rest of your body.
Says Buchanan, “To fix this, simply swing the trail arm away from the golf ball. So you want to feel some swing in my right arm, making it feel like the trail arm folds down.”
While there’s temptation to pull the arms back too fast — which will throw off your swing sequence — be sure that your hands, hips and back work in unison as you make your movements.
“I want to feel like I swing the right arm back, and I want to feel the toe of the club cover the golf ball,” adds Buchanan. That’ll help you hit the ball more in the center of the face.”
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