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Oct 15, 2012

You know it is a good drill when some of today’s instructors try to convince others that they developed it. The drill is actually going out to a field or range and tossing your club as far and as accurately as possible. This motion is an instinctive athletic move of proper lack of muscle tension, weight transition, direction, release, and follow through all rolled up into one! Of course, these are all factors that we want to incorporate into our swing. When we do this toss, we can get dramatic results.

I first learned of this drill in 1966 from Bob Hendricks, the golf professional at Indian Valley Country Club in Telford, Pennsylvania.Actually Jackie Burke Sr. popularized this drill in Texas during the mid-1920s though he may not have been the first. Anyway, I was experiencing some frustration releasing the clubhead and following through, thus I was losing distance. Five minutes with Mr. Hendricks solved that. Not only did I achieve improved results in a matter of a few minutes, my body learned the proper release through doing.

Here’s how it goes. Yes, this is a real club toss. First, the golfer picks a distant target and makes some imaginary practice swings. Next the golfer swings their club toward their target letting go and actually tossing it. Sound kind of strange? Of course, this is a counter-intuitive move for most as we’ve been taught never to throw your club. Well, this exercise works like magic. Once the golfer gets over the unusual feeling of watching their golf club whirling down the range, the instructor will likely ask them if the release helped them feel more relaxed. (Yes, it does because you can’t toss the club if you feel tight and are holding on for dear life!) Next the instructor will ask their students to toss their club a little further toward the same target sensing this relaxation of the muscles and releasing the club with more speed. Should the golfer tense up, the club toss is apt to go in wayward directions, but when they release their tension and guide their arms toward their target, the results are amazing – they can begin to instinctively develop great accuracy with distance. With practice, anyone can throw a golf club!

Remember that the golf swing is just that. It is not a hit, but a swing all the way through the ball. The very same motion of tossing a club actually happens in the golf swing. You turn back and through toward your target, shift your weight, and release finishing with your hands nice and high. The golfer will realize that they can throw the club or hit the ball more accurately when they are relaxed. Secondly, they also quickly realize that when they don’t limit their follow through, they develop much greater distance. Acceleration through the release really makes for a longer toss. After learning to toss their clubs, the instructor will have the golfer transition back to the golf ball and incorporate the full, relaxed release and follow through to striking the golf ball.

Think that Lee Westwood would have tossed this club far and sure? You bet!

This is not only such a fun and unusual drill, but also an effective one so you can quickly see why some want to take credit for it. I have used it when I start blocking shots, losing distance, or feeling my swing tense up. Intuitively, just like swatting a fly, we can toss a club, but we often make hitting a golf ball more complicated and tense up.

You can also toss an imaginary club if you are in the middle round of golf. That visualization of flinging the club far away from you toward your target is just the feeling you want in your swing and might quickly get you back on track. You can imagine your club leaving your hands or just swinging your arms and hands without the club might accomplish the same thing for you.

So if someone tells you about how they discovered this secret drill, smile and take them with a grain of salt. When it comes to instruction, there are precious few really new things in golf over last thirty years, just more varied ways of communicating them. So there you have the rest of the story. Don’t worry about throwing clubs – just don’t throw them in anger!

P.S. One fun tip is to use some old clubs to toss so that you have no fear of breaking them. Paint them white or fluorescent for tossing. It makes them look really cool as they head out into the sky and it also makes them easier to find. And it should go without saying, pick an open area and make sure that people or property are not around to be affected by your wayward tosses, though with practice, you’ll likely quickly become pretty accurate!