The Pyramid Of Learning (P12)

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THE AXE DRILL: use it to optimise the power & pressure of your swing

The Axe Drill™ is one of my signature exercises and I use it to help players of all standards get from the plane you stand in to the plane you swing the club in in. It will help you to get into the right position on the backswing and create the right angle of attack on the downswing, optimising the power and pressure you can exert on the ball.

Imagine you are chopping a log of wood. Think about how easy it is to generate power by using the leverage creat
ed by your arms, wrists, shoulders and body driving the axe down into the log. Now, imagine that the axe is a golf club. If you could translate that same kind of power into your swing just think of the speed you could generate.

Lots of players I see struggle to get from a good set-up position to a good position at the top of their backswing. Common mistakes include (1) too much rotation of the forearms on the way back and (2) too much rotation of
the body and (3) getting the shaft in plane but not the clubface.

The Axe Drill™ will help you develop a correct feel for the initial ‘setting’ of the wrists and the arms on the correct plane in the backswing. From this position it is relatively straightforward to then complete a good backswing. From a powerful position at the top, this exercise helps you to get into a great delivery position and to exert maximum power and pressure through impact.

Remember: If your angle of attack is too shallow, you lose power and pressure. If your angle of attack is too steep, you lose power and pressure. You need to get it just right. The Axe Drill™ helps you to get it right.

A: To start, take up a good address position and posture. Complete your grip on the club as normal but with the clubface pointing to the ground (toe down) as you see illustrated.

B: From the set up – and this without moving your arms– cock your wrists to raise the club up to waist height. The arms must remain hanging naturally in the address position.

C: To complete the sequence, raise your arms above your head. From here (if you so wished!) you could drive the club into the top of the bucket, just like chopping a log. You only need do this once to appreciate the tremendous source of power generated by this movement.

The key ‘pre-set’ move that gets you ready to go

The key ‘pre-set’ move that gets you ready to go

The exercise you see me demonstrating here is essentially designed to help better players get the feeling of the correct wrist and forearm action in the golf swing that delivers the maximum pressure and power on the back of the ball at impact. I strongly advise you to view the video of me rehearsing this drill at the magazine’s website ( to further enhance your understanding of it. The key to getting it right is to pre-set the hands/wrists and the club before making the swing. Those of you who follow Henrik Stenson will have noticed that he repeats this exercise regularly out on the course during a tournament. This is how it works:

  • Assume the same starting position as in figure A opposite (i.e. with the toe of the club pointing downwards
  • Hinge your wrists to angle the club up (as per figure B opposite – and repeated above). Then rotate your hands, forearms and the club through fully 90 degrees to your right. As you do this, try as best you can to keep your upper arms ‘quiet’ and hanging naturally; do not straighten or tense them. Looking down, you should now see the top of your left forearm and the inside of your right forearm (above right).
  • Now, having effectively ‘pre-set’ the wrist and forearm position that I want you to achieve, aim the toe-end of the club at the back of the bucket without disturbing the relative position of your hands and arms (inset right). You should now be looking down on a very strong grip (i.e. your hands turned to the right). This is the correct starting position for the Axe Drill – for the swing sequence itself, see overleaf.
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