Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher Nick Clearwater Takes Marisa Through a Lesson

In this edition of Data Driven, Professional Golfer Marisa Messana visits GOLFTEC to fix the dreaded chicken wing. If you’ve been around golf for any period of time, chances are you’ve heard this term, and maybe even fight the chicken wing yourself. Well you’re in luck, because GOLFTEC Vice President of Instruction and Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher, Nick Clearwater takes Marisa through the process of how to get rid of the chicken wing and start making clean contact on iron shots.

Start with the Downswing and Focus on Shoulder Tilt

Marisa’s backswing looks great as she takes the club back into the correct position. However, once she starts the downswing a couple issues come up.

As Marisa has the club parallel to the ground there are a couple of takeaways as we show her side-by-side with Collin Morikawa. First, look at the blue line through their shoulders and notice how Collin’s shoulders are tilted compared to Marisa’s. Tour player average for shoulder tilt is around the mid-20s, while Marisa is at six degrees.

Because of the lack of shoulder tilt, we can already start to see Marisa’s lead arm start to bend, the beginnings of the chicken wing.

Through Impact Bend Back to Keep Your Arms Straight

When looking at the different positions between Collin and Marisa, focus on the yellow line on their backs. Collin is bent backwards, while Marisa is straight up and down.

Since Collin is bent backward on the follow through his arms remain straight, where Marisa’s arms and wrists are bent. You might be thinking, “Why does this follow through position matter? The ball is already gone.”

It’s as simple as, if you correct the follow through and work backwards, it will help you tremendously to make solid, repeatable contact in the previous position when you are at impact.

Half-Swing Drill to get into Correct Positions

Nick has Marisa do some half-swings without a ball, while guiding her into the correct positions. Doing this at half-speed with a half-swing helps you feel what the correct positions are along the way.

As you can see from the numbers Marisa’s shoulder turn increased from 67 degrees to 74 degrees, but more importantly, her shoulder bend went from 24 degrees forward to 1 degree back. Now that’s an improvement!

Notice how her arms are much straighter in the position on the right. Repeat this motion at half-speed until you get used it, then introduce a ball, and start striking your irons pure!

For more great tips like this and to learn about lesson packages we offer, visit your nearest GOLFTEC and talk with a local Coach. GOLFTEC Coaches will help you play your best golf, which includes helping you hit consistent iron shots like Marisa!

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