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The Rotary Drill - Master the Golf Swing with One Simple Drill

Online Golf Instruction By: Chuck Quinton, Master Instructor • FULL BIO •

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This is one of the most important drills we've developed to help golfers understand the concept of the Rotary Swing and what it should feel like. We call it the Rotary Drill or, as you may have seen on the website, sometimes just "The Drill."

Rotary DrillThe Rotary Drill

This simple drill teaches you two things in the golf swing:

  • It teaches you what it feels like to start down from the proper position at the top of your golf swing
  • It teaches you how to rotate properly through the golf ball

If you get those two things right - a reasonably good position at the top and reasonably good rotation on the way down - your golf swing will be a lot simpler.

The Two Goals of the Drill

Learning the two skills above will have two outcomes, at the end of the day. The ultimate purpose of this drill is:

  • To understand your misses

    Nothing is more important in golf than being able to understand your misses and be able to hit playable shots when you miss. You're not going to hit every ball perfectly; understanding what caused a miss is 90% of the battle.
  • To get smooth, effortless rotation of the body

    Why do we emphasize rotation so much? Why are we so keen on the body rotating back and through while the arms stay quiet? It's quite simple. With proper body rotation, the arms don't have to do a whole lot in the golf swing.

If the body rotates correctly - the shoulders rotate on the proper plane and the arms are trained enough to get into a reasonable position at the top - the arms will naturally release properly through the golf shot.

When you basically take the arms out of the golf swing like that, then you only have to look at body rotation to understand what caused a miss.

Backswing Position: Start With the Left

The first thing we're trying to do with this drill is learn how to get into a reasonable backswing position at the top. This is paramount.

It doesn't necessarily matter that much how you get to that position. Of course it's important if you're doing a lot of things drastically wrong, but for the most part as long as you get up to a decent position at the top everything else can happen reasonably well on the way down.

The Rotary DrillHold club out in front of you, then rotate back - the club comes along for the ride

Looking from down the line, here's how to get into proper backswing position:

Do this drill with the left arm only. Start with the club parallel to the ground, pointing at your belt buckle, with your left arm connected to your chest.

Now rotate your body back. Take your shoulders, your core, and everything back. Your arm will move around your body with the rest of your torso. That's important.

If you just turn your torso back, keeping your left arm connected to your chest so it comes along for the ride, the club will end up somewhere out over your toes. It's parallel to the ground and pointing down the target line as you can see in the photo above.

The Rotary DrillPut the right hand on the club then tilt forward

If you put your right hand onto the club at this point and tilt forward, you'll see that the club is in a great position. This is just where you want to be, halfway back.

If you keep both hands on the club and rotate back down to the ground and then back up to this position, you can see how easy it is to get there from address.

Parallel to the groundArm, shoulders, shaft & club face are parallel to the ground. You can read your watch from here.

For purposes of this drill, though, you're going to get into this position by raising the club with your left arm and just turning your torso. The arms haven't done much at this point.

As this is happening, the arms are going to have to start to move up to get on plane with your shoulders - at the moment they're still down, and the club is pointing at your belt buckle.

There's also going to have to be some rotation. By the time you get to the top, you want your wrist to be positioned so that you could read your watch.

As long as those two things happen - you rotate your shoulders back correctly and let your left arm swing up on plane and rotate - you will find that at the top of the golf swing your left arm, the shaft, the club face, and your shoulders are all parallel to the ground.

That's perfect. That's all you need to do.

From the initial turn up to the top is a pretty simple move to get the left arm into the proper position at the top of the golf swing.

Now Add the Right and Tilt

Now all you have to do is bring the right arm up.

You don't want to stick your elbow out in front of your hip, and you don't want to have it way back behind you. Just bring the right arm up in a neutral position.

Keep the right arm relaxed and soft, and you'll see that it's more or less even with the side seam on your shirt. It's not pushed forward or pulled way back; it's just in a neutral position.

From here, all you have to do is tilt. Making a good turn and getting that tilt are the key pieces to getting the backswing correct.

Keep right elbow neutral (right) The right elbow should be neutral (right), not way in front of or behind the hip (left, center)

Once you've learned the positions, you can start to do it all in one simple motion. Turn back, swing up, bring the right arm up, tilt. (The hands will move along with the rest of your body as you tilt.)

That's it. That's all you're trying to do.

Go ahead and do this a few times. Keeping your shoulders parallel to the ground - that's important - move the club up, bring the right arm up, tilt. From here, all you have to do is unwind. That's the important part of the drill.

Once you know how to get into that proper position, all you have to do is unwind your torso on the way down. The arms don't do anything.

Swing back with the left hand, then stop and check your plane. If everything's good then bring the right hand up, tilt, and unwind.

The hands come alongThe hand come along with the rest of the body as you tilt

Building Consistency

The arms don't do anything. If you do this several times, you'll find that the club always bottoms out in the same place because you're keeping your arms out of it. That's the key.

You rotate aggressively with your body and your arms just swing across. It all happens naturally. That's all you're trying to do.

Looking at it from face on, you'll see that the club starts centered in front of your body, pointing at your belt buckle. You rotate back and get everything parallel to the ground, bring the right arm up, tilt the spine, and unwind. That's it.

From face on you'll also notice that when you get to the top and unwind, the head and everything turns at the same time. You fire through without even looking at the ball.

Program Your Automatic Pilot

The great thing about this drill is it teaches you how to freely rotate through the ball without even having to think about it. You don't have to worry about trying to shallow out your arms or do this or that with your arms. You just unwind your body.

Shift weight to the leftShift weight to the left

Unwind your body, let your head and everything turn if you want.

As you get to the top your weight is relatively centered. Just shift it onto your left side and then unwind.

You can go ahead and hit balls with this drill.

Take your address position then stand back up with the club held out in front of you. Turn back and check your position at the top. Add the right hand and tilt.

Pump down to address and back up to the proper position at the top a couple of times. Do the drill one more time, starting with the club held out in front of you so you know you've got the proper feel, then go ahead and tilt and unwind.

That's all you've got to do.

Checkpoints for Practice

  • The Rotary Drill teaches you the proper position at the top, and how to rotate down
  • Hold the club out in front of you in your left hand, with your left arm connected to your chest
  • Rotate your body back, turning your shoulders, core, etc. and bringing your arm along for the ride
  • Let your left arm swing up on plane & rotate so you can read your watch at the top
  • Bring the right hand up to the club, keeping the elbow in a neutral position
  • Tilt forward, bringing the hands along, then go ahead and unwind

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