Helping improve impact position and more
By: Scott Kramer
While technology seemingly grabs much of the attention in golf instruction these days – what with launch monitors, club sensors and high-speed video cameras – it’s nice to know there are still nontechnical training aids that are very effective in helping someone improve at golf.
Such is the case with the SKLZ Smash Bag, which costs just $25. It comes as an empty sack made of durable, heavy-duty yet soft material that can withstand high impact. You open its zipper and stuff the bag with old clothing, towels or blankets – to the point where there’s still a little bit of space inside and thus some “give” when it is struck. Then you fasten the zipper and place the bag on the ground with the target on its side facing the clubface at address. The target on the front of the bag should be exactly at the impact point of your student’s downswing, where he or she would normally strike a golf ball. The bag comes with a soft handle that can be used to slide a stake through, to keep it in place. Or it can just sit in place. And then swing away at half speed, hitting the Smash Bag instead of a golf ball at impact directly on the center of the target.
How does this help improve a golf swing? It teaches a golfer the feeling of the correct impact position and thus improves their overall accuracy. While teaching professionals each have their own specific ways to employ it in a lesson, their students all see instant results.
TEACHING SOMEONE HOW NOT TO SLICE
“In trying to stop a slice, I get a person to look at the inside part of the bag, and to come down on the inside of the bag on the downswing,” says Michael Brisbane, PGA director of instruction at Azalea City Golf Course in Mobile, Alabama. Other professionals have a golfer hit into the bag by exaggerating the clubhead rotation and thus driving its toe into the bag. It will be a jarring effect that golfers will not want to repeat, and this will stop them from flipping their hands at the ball.
BOLSTER IMPACT POSITION, REGARDLESS OF SKILL LEVEL
“The SKLZ Smash Bag teaches the correct impact position with a flat lead wrist and bent trail wrist,” says Chuck Will, PGA director of instruction at the Chuck Will Golf Academy at Dulles (Virginia) Golf Center. “And it shows how the trail arm straightens after impact. Good impact is a common denominator in all good swings. The Smash Bag helps the less-skilled golfer feel the correct impact position and the advanced player time the release – that is syncing the arms, club and body after impact.”
FINDING INVENTIVE WAYS TO HELP
“While impact is the most-common use for the Smash Bag, it can also be used to correct shanking and club path issues,” says Will. “If the student can use a training aid that reinforces a swing change, the results will be realized sooner and last longer. I use it to correct a student’s swing path in takeaway and finish by making the student avoid hitting the bag at certain points in the swing. It helps all skill levels.”
CORE ROTATION AND SHAFT POSITION
“The SKLZ Smash Bag is a great training aid for teaching a player to rotate their core on the downswing to create the proper sequencing, instead of throwing their hands first from the top and losing all their speed,” says teaching professional Boyd Summerhays, who instructs PGA Tour winner Tony Finau (pictured). “It also is an awesome tool to help golfers get the sensation of what it feels like to have the shaft leaning forward at impact for increased power and improved contact.”
“The Smash bag is the quickest and simplest way to get your energy toward the target and the correct handle lean at impact,” says Chris Mayson, teaching professional at Maderas Golf Academy in Poway, California. “It will lead to better contact and more compressed, longer shots throughout the bag.”
MAKING KIDS STRONGER
“I use it a lot with juniors,” says Brisbane. “It helps them strengthen their hands, getting them to hit the bag and hold the grip solid so that it doesn’t move around in their hands.”
RELISH IN ITS R.O.I.
Since it only costs $25, the investment is minimal. And as one instructor told us, “if students improve – as they always do by using the Smash Bag – then referrals increase. And that also leads to good profit margin on product sales in the golf shop.”