Engage Your Core For Better Wedge Play
Editor's Note: "The Wedge Guy," Terry Koehler, is in the second week of a four-week research-and-development project for Ben Hogan Golf Company. New columns are expected to return on August 15. The following column originally ran on April 30, 2007.

I was playing golf with a new acquaintance on Friday, and he was having a lot of difficulty around the greens, as so many golfers do. After a few holes, and watching me hit some nice pitch shots to save pars, he asked me if I could offer him some guidance.

Like almost every mid- to high-handicap player (and some low-handicap ones) I encounter, his technique was overly dependent on his hand action and his body rotation was practically non-existent. This causes the golfer to make a "slap" or jab at the ball with the clubhead in an attempt to make contact. This reliance on our hands is aggravated by one or two shots that are hit poorly, thereby making us more "impact conscious". And the vicious cycle begins — bad shot, more hands-y... another bad shot with a tighter grip... another bad shot with quicker tempo... and holes just thrown away.

I showed him a little drill to engage your body core and feel it working. See if it doesn't help you feel the "one piece" connection between the body core and club.

Pick up a wedge and take your normal grip. Now hold it directly in front of you, with your upper arms relaxed at your side, and your hands about a foot in front of your chest. The club should be vertical, so that you are looking right at the back of your right thumbnail (for right-handers). Now, keep your eyes focused on your right thumbnail, and rotate your upper body to move your hands back and forth, starting about a foot in either direction. You want to feel like nothing is moving but your body core. As you continue to rotate back and through, lengthen the range of motion until you are making a full shoulder turn. But always make sure that your hands are right in front of your sternum throughout the range of motion.

Now, extend your arms straight out in front of you, so that now the club is pointing away from you at about 45 degrees. Repeat the drill, moving the arms and club back and through only by rotating your body core. It helps to focus your eyes on the right thumb so that you are very aware if you start swinging the arms without rotating the body. That's what a pitching swing should feel like – one-piece rotation of the body, with the arms and hands "quiet".

The last piece of the puzzle is to gradually lower the club as you rotate back and through — do this by bending at the hips and flexing the knees, and lowering the hands. Lower the club a little bit on each rotation, so that you continue to feel like the body core is driving the entire action. Once you get so that the club is brushing the turf or carpet as you go back and through, you will be feeling what a solid, functional and repeatable wedge swing should feel like.

I realize this is abbreviated, but try it! I think you will see just how inactive your body is on your pitch shots.

Oh, and my friend? With about a two-minute drill on the golf course, he made measurable improvement. His reaction? "No one ever told me that before?"

Amazing, isn't it?  :)
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