How a wide arc can generate power and improve ball striking

hudson swafford swings

Hudson Swafford showcased a wide swing arc on his way to victory in the Dominican Republic last week.

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I love a story of success. I also love a story of redemption and recovery. We saw a story of recovery unfold in the Corales Puntacana Championship down in the Dominican Republic last week.

Hudson Swafford rebounded in the biggest way from injury-plagued 2018 and 2019 PGA Tour seasons. After suffering rib and foot injuries over the past two years, Swafford claimed his second career Tour victory at the Corales Puntacana, besting Tyler McCumber by a shot.

As you all know, doing anything while hurt is difficult. But imagine for a minute what is must be like to compete against the best in the world without a full cache of weapons. Not only is it physically challenging, it takes a mental toll, too.

A cool story indeed, and there is much we can take away from it. Here’s what you can learn from Swafford to emulate his rock-solid ball striking.

Width is the Key

To me, every great golf swing possesses a consistently wide arc of the handle (of the club) and a consistent radius of the clubhead throughout its journey.

Essentially, the bigger (wider) the arc around which the clubhead travels — assuming that it is decently on plane and well controlled — the farther the ball will travel. Through the years, greats such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Greg Norman have advocated a wide swing arc, especially away from the ball and through contact.

hudson swafford stands with caddie

Hudson Swafford was once involved in one of the weirdest rulings you’ll ever see

By: Zephyr Melton

To quote the Golden Bear: “For me, creating a large arc has always depended on extending the clubhead fully away from my body in the first part of the backswing, then extending it fully again as it ‘chases’ the ball after impact.”

Beyond an uptick in power, there are a myriad of benefits to a wider swing arc. Notably, it reduces the need to react and ‘save’ shots with unnecessary wrist and hand action (picture Steve Stricker), and it aids in tempo and timing (picture Justin Rose).

Get Wide

Expanding the width of your swing arc is as easy as recognizing the influence of each arm on either side of the swing. For right-handers, the right arm governs the width of the backswing and the left arm controls the width in the downswing.

Delving a little deeper, each arm bends at the elbow and the wrist on either side of your swing arc. The less the elbows fold, the farther the handle of the club will be away from the body, i.e. the wider the arc of the swing. Use that theory to expand the arc of the handle and, by extension, the clubhead.

A Width Drill

Hold the club with your trail hand only around the middle of the grip. Assume your athletic posture and, as you keep your head stable, swing the club back to around shaft parallel to the ground. Look over there and notice an absence of fold in the elbow and wrist. Now, maintaining the stable head and keeping the club in the same area, reach over to the club and slip your lead hand onto the grip. You will feel extension and a little rotation across your torso. You will notice how you lead shoulder has traveled away from the target, and you will feel a little force on the club. Next, maintain that attitude complete your backswing. It should feel bigger, wider, more stretched and certainly powerful.

To practice the through swing side, reverse the course. Hold the club in the lead hand, move to shaft parallel on the follow-through side, hold it and then, while keeping your eyes trained on where the ball would be, slip your trail hand onto the club. I am sure it will be enlightening, and a little challenging as well. This is what great ball strikers do and Swafford is a beautiful example of it. 

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Golf.com Contributor

On-course announcer and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated instructor, award-winning NCAA college golf coach, and an accomplished golfer, Mark brings a robust knowledge and vast experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf instructor. He is currently a Golf Analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an Analyst and On-course Announcer for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He currently also serves as a Studio Analyst and an On-course Announcer for PGA TOUR Live  for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother to 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa he was offered a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus , GA). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two-time Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div. II National Championship victories. After graduation, Mark had a short season as a playing professional, but quickly turned his attention to his true passion – golf teaching.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in cultivating ability and talent by providing comprehensive, holistic golf instruction that is easily understandable and of the highest quality to golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate approach and keen knowledge of the game have led to him being a sought-after mind by leading Professional and Amateur golfers alike. Through his career he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour professionals and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of “Golf Digest’s Top 20 Instructors Under 40”, Golf Digest’s “Best Teachers in the State of Georgia” and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best and Brightest”.

As a NCAA College Coach at Columbus State University (since 2001) Mark continues to coach the Columbus State Men’s Golf Team and his program is a perennial contender for Conference and National Titles. He is a two-time NCAA Div. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and the 2009 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019 Mark was selected as Captain and Coach of the (Arnold) Palmer Cup International Team. His team triumphed over the United States Team in the Palmer Cup Matches held at The Alotian Club outside of Little Rock, AR.

Mark’s additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on the CBS Sports “First Cut Podcast”. CBS Sports also uses Mark’s unique voice for audio and promotional PGA TOUR advertisements and promotional reads.

He has also served a 6-year tenure as a Play-by-Play Announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark”, a PGA TOUR Podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA, Golf Digest USA and is currently penning instructional pieces for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-Books on golf instruction: “Scandalously SImple – The Easy Way to Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf is a Game of Recovery”.

You can learn more about at MarkImmelman.com