The first time I saw Will Zalatoris swing a golf club was at the 2014 USGA Junior Championship in Carlton Woods outside of Houston, Texas. As a PGA coach, I was amazed at his athletic ability to swing the racket in such a wide arc with a thin frame. Well, the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has grown up and while he’s gotten a little bigger and stronger, his magic move hasn’t changed.
At first glance, it’s hard to understand what makes Will’s move so impressive. It is still very slim and does not have a long backswing.
This weekend, as we watch the Fortinet Championship, pay special attention to Zalatoris’ body, not his club. Will’s strength and consistency come from a very deliberate twisting motion. Yes, his rotation is that of a young athletic man, but there is an extremely valuable lesson we can all take away from him. Try it at home, all you need is a bat and balloon.
Take a short iron. A pitching wedge or 9 iron will do.
Inflate the balloon just enough to fit between your forearms. Here’s a hint, don’t tie the balloon off too tightly until you are the right size. It should be just big enough to sit between your arms and stay there with some pressure. If it’s too big, it will push its arms apart, too small and it will fall out.
Take up your posture with the balloon between your forearms and address an imaginary ball.
Begin your backswing by rotating your lead shoulder down and toward the ball. Hold the balloon in place and keep twisting until your back is turned towards the target. Depending on your flexibility, you may need to lift your lead heel off the floor and that’s fine.
When turning away, make sure that your arms are outstretched and that the balloon stays in place.
This is the key to both the drill and Will’s swing. Try turning to create as much reach or width as possible in your back swing. Be careful not to sway, believe it or not, if you do not rotate properly, your arms will separate and the balloon will fall out. Keep your arms in a perfect V and allow yourself to rotate.
Take the racket back as far as you can by turning. The balloon should stay in place throughout the backswing.
Now start your transition by turning your back on the goal. Don’t move your arms just yet, just turn.
You will feel a slight pull from the racket that lags behind your turn towards the ball. Hold the balloon back in place.
Bring the arms between them through the impact with the balloon and follow them by stretching them out and pointing them at the target.
This demonstration will quickly stimulate your golf brain and show you how this amazing young man hits the ball with so much control.
Your backswing will be shorter, but your contact will immediately improve. Keep exercising with your balloon at home. Practice this movement every day and you will soon be able to coordinate your arms with a very reliable swing in your golf swing. It might not make you Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour, but it will certainly lower your score and ultimately that handicap.
Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders gives him a unique perspective on the game. He is a writer on PGA.com and hosts the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoon at 3:00 PM EDT. Check out his PGA coaching articles archived here or his conversations on the air using this link on his website, The ProShow.
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