Help improve stability, rotation and train your movement with these eight drills
One of golf's best training aids is dangling off the rim of your bag. From tee to green, here are eight ways you can put your bag towel to better use.
These tips come from TG Top 50 David Armitage: Master PGA Professional, South Florida
#1: Putting Stability
We all manage to balance ourselves before we putt, but sometimes the balance we create is not sustainable through the stroke. Set your weight too much into the toes or heels and your body is prone to moving during the stroke as it senses a threat to its balance. That can compromise your stroke path and strike point. A bag towel can help you develop a more constant centre of gravity, and a more stable stroke.
Underneath the arches
Roll your towel up to create a tube effect. Now stand on the towel tube so it runs under the arches of both shoes; the middle of the 'tube' should fall under the top of both shoe laces. The towel elevates both toe and heel zones slightly off the ground, and your balance will feel compromised.
Without your toes and heels, it's much trickier to "cheat" balance. You will have to work harder to find a poised and stable set-up... but when you find it, you'll have hit upon a much more centred balance point where your weight is evenly distributed between toes and heels. Hit 10 putts before removing the towel and putting normally. You'll feel rock-solid.
#2: Improve sequencing and speed
Swinging a towel like a golf club is a brilliant way to train efficient movement. Because it hangs limp, you cannot fake the creation of speed; it can only be achieved by moving your body in the correct sequence. Follow this four- step plan:
Grip one end of the towel using your regular golf hold, and take your normal address position. The towel simply hangs down in front of you.
Swing back to the top... but wait to feel the lagging towel land on your trail shoulder before starting the downswing. This is a good tip to help you stop throwing the club down with your shoulders, hands and arms.
Your No.1 goal for this drill is to create as much whip or snap in the towel. Hands and arms alone can't do it; the only way is through unwinding from the ground up, the most effective sequence for speed, and creating lag in the towel.
Commit to making a full-length follow-through; it will help you create whip and speed in the towel. Repeat this towel swing until you can really feel it snapping through. Then pick up your 7-iron and hit 10 balls, looking to replicate the same sequence of movement that fired speed into the towel.
#3: Tailor your attack angle
Launch monitors regularly demonstrate how an upward attack angle for the driver – as much as five degrees – increases carry and distance. However, they also show a downward strike of about the same angle optimises trajectory with a wedge. Here's how your towel can help you train these contrasting attack angles
➤ Towel behind the ball: Fold your towel into thirds and set it on the ground a grip-length behind the ball.
➤ Compression sock: Hit 10 shots, making sure the ball stays that grip length in front of the towel each time. Because the towel creates a slight, raised obstacle behind the ball, you will instinctively retrain your attack to avoid it. that will give your strike more of a downward, squeezing quality. Look for a ball-turf connection and a more driven, powerful flight.
➤ Towel ahead of the ball: Take your folded towel and this time set it on the ground a grip-length holeside of the ball.
➤ On the rise: It's the same drill – strike the ball, miss the towel. Perhaps the most damaging driver swing trait is the over-the-top move that sets up a steep, downward attack angle; but with the towel there to catch the clubhead on any descending blow, your brain is forced into working out a more sweeping, upward solution.
#4: Lower-half stability
It's common to see amateur golfer's bodies follow the club in the swing, leading to weak positions. Some simple work with your towel will encourage the correct movements for a more co-ordinated, powerful swing. Follow these steps:
As we swing the club back, it's quite easy for our body mass to follow it. If your weight shifts to the outside of your trail foot, your upper body will tend to respond by leaning towards the target to find balance. It creates a weak, uncoordinated and potentially painful hitting platform.
Fold your bag towel into quarters. Take up your address position, with the inside of your trail foot on the ground but the outside propped up on the towel. Now tilted, your trail foot is primed to receive weight and ground pressure along its instep.
Swing back with the towel in place. Note how, with your weight set along the inside of your trail foot, your trail leg and hip support the backswing much better. There is no 'popping out' of the trail hip; it rotates rather than sways. This helps you reach this top- of-the-backswing position, with your upper body stacked powerfully over your lower half.
#5: Chipping Target
Your bag towel is the perfect size for a demanding yet achievable chipping goal. Lie it on the green. Angle the towel across you to set a tougher distance goal (pictured), or in line with you to up the stakes on direction. Take your 10 balls and see how many you can get to stop on the towel itself. Set a personal best, and then try to beat it.
#6: Short Game Practice
With the first bounce of the ball often making or breaking the success of a short-game shot, it's important you develop the ability to carry the ball to your desired landing spot – which will ideally always be on the green. Again, use your bag towel as a target to improve your carry control. Try these two exercises:
1. Simply set the towel on the green. Take a lofted club – perhaps your pitching wedge. See how many of your 10 balls you can get to pitch directly on the towel. Again, create a personal best and see if you can beat it next time.
2. Select five different chipping/ pitching clubs, from 7-iron to lob wedge. Allot two balls to each club. Your goal remains the same – to pitch each ball on to the towel – but doing it with different clubs sharpens your feel for how you need to alter rhythm and power to deliver the same carry with each loft.
#7: Pitching connection trainer
It's not new... but it still works! Hitting shots with a towel trapped under your armpits is better for shorter swings because it promotes a very rotary motion that restricts arm travel, but it remains a great way to coordinate your armswing and body rotation.
1. Band aid
Fold the towel into one long band. Place it across your chest and use your upper arms to pin it to your sides. Take your regular grip.
2. Hold up
Take your wedge and hit 10 part shots – no further back and through than belt height. As you'll no-doubt know, the object of the exercise is to hold the towel in place under your arms. You can only do that when your body and arms work in sync; if your arms start working independently, they work away from your sides and the towel drops.
3. Consistency boost
For the vast majority of club players, this drill serves as a wake-up call to your core, which often becomes passive while the hands and arms do all the work. Get your upper body to rotate more willingly and you'll hone a more reliable and consistent action through a truer arc, a more neutral clubface and a smoother rhythm.
#8: Softer Pressure Grip
Squeeze the putter too tightly and you'll deny your stroke rhythm and fluency. Your bag towel can deliver an excellent solution
1. Good roll
Fold your towel in half, then wrap it around the handle of your putter as shown. Now grip the putter through the towel. You'll instantly feel how this fat, soft grip puts the handle very much in your palms and not your fingers, and that it is impossible to clasp the putter tightly.
2. Total control
Hit a series of 10 putts, gripping the putter through the towel. Note how, with your hand and wrist tension reduced, your arms and shoulders begin to make a larger contribution to moving the putter. Allow these bigger muscles to control the stroke as you continue to strike putts.
> Flow state
Note how, with the arms and shoulders in control, the putter's movement feels much more stable. You'll start to experience greatly enhanced feel off the blade, and that elusive rhythm and flow will start to return to your action. After striking those 10 putts, remove the towel but repeat the stroke, maintaining your new, light grip pressure