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Breezy Point

Local Golf
July 22, 2017

By Tom Abts

I gave a lesson yesterday to a 47-year old guy who'd been playing golf his whole life - he'd never heard of "the slot."

So I feel an obligation to get the word out. The slot is the heart of the golf swing. Once upon a time I would have said that the heart of the swing is impact, but you can't get to good impact if you don't first get the club into the slot.

What I mean by the slot is the part of the swing right before impact. Most people are inconsistent golfers because they don't consistently get the club into the slot. And it's hard to get the club in the slot if you don't know about the slot. That's why most people are inconsistent.

So what is this "slot"? Take a golf club and make a back swing and stop at the top - then, from the top of your backswing, pull the club down so your right elbow hits your right hip while you shift your weight to your left leg. Then hold that position. That is the slot. From there, you just swing the club into the ball.

Once you understand the slot most other parts of the golf swing start to fall in place and make sense. For example, the term "coming over the top" should now make sense. Everyone is always talking about coming over the top, but no one ever says why it's bad. Well, if you come over the top, you can't get the club into the slot. Think about it. The over the top move puts your right elbow out and away from your body. How can you get to impact from there? Only by chopping down on the ball or scooping it and making a reverse weight shift.

Now, that might have sounded complicated and hard to understand. I hope not, but let's keep going. The golf swing should be a sweep - not a chop or a scoop. You can only sweep it if the club is coming from inside the target line - not from the outside. Try it with a club and see.

So, if the club needs to be coming from inside the target line, shouldn't your stance be set up left of the target? Whoa! To swing inside-to-out, you need to be lined up left of the target. Think about it. If you're lined up at the target you have to swing AROUND your body to get at the target. That means OVER-THE-TOP.

Solid impact comes with the hands in front of the ball. Make an over-the-top swing and see if you can get the hands in front of the ball at impact. You can't. You'll either give it a glancing blow slice or a smothered hook - depending if the face is open or closed. Or, the gods of golf might bless you and give you a decent mishit shot.

Hopefully now you can see the problem with coming over the top. Another related and confusing golf term is that of a "one plane swing" or a "two plane swing." Really what they mean is how do you get the club into the slot. The concept of the one plane swing is that the backswing and downswing are on the exact same path. And the path - if done correctly - would get you into the slot. The two plane swing means that the downswing follows a different path from the back swing - that the downswing path drops into the slot because the backswing may not be on that path.

I hope that made some sense. I like the two plane swing because I think it focuses more on the slot than the one plane swing. If the downswing of the one plane swing is just a little off, it comes over the top. I feel that the two plane swing hedges your bet. And it allows a more natural and athletic swing. Basically anybody's backswing will work as long as they get the club into the slot on the downswing.

Here's a great drill to get it into the slot. As I talked about earlier, swing up to the top of your backswing and stop. Then pull your right elbow down until it hits your right hip - while maintaining your wrist-cock. Then swing back to the top of your backswing, and drop it back down to your hip. Do this three times in a row with rhythm and shifting your weight, then on number four, swing the club into your follow through. Practice this drill as much as you can. When you get comfortable with it, try it with a ball at the driving range.

People laugh at Jim Furyk's golf swing. But, Furyk get's the club into the slot as well as anyone. That loop move of his consistently gets the club into the slot. Does it look funny? Yeah. Does it work? Yeah. In fact Furyk is probably the least wild player on the TOUR.

And there is another advantage to Furyk's loop swing. It's very effective out of sand. I'm talking the explosion bunker shot around the green. That loop move allows you to come in shallow at the ball and almost throw it up in the air out of the sand. I definitely recommend fooling around with the loop move when practicing bunker shots.

But the bottom line is that "the slot" allows you to make your natural swing - as long as you get the club into the slot. Watch videos of good golfers from Walter Hagen to Byron Nelson to Arnold Palmer to Lee Trevino to Jordan Speith. They all get it into the slot.

The robot swing is fine if it works for you, but the robot swing still has to get the club into the slot. Don't obsess on the details of your golf swing. But, do obsess on the slot - it's the secret of a good golf swing.

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