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Hit better shots by controlling your swing length

Tiger Woods backswing 304
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On the first hole of sudden death, Watson played a <a href='' target='_blank'> 40-yard hook shot</a> out of the trees and onto the green, 10 feet from the hole. His par secured his first major. (Getty)  - 

The easiest way I know to explain the complex variations that go on between different length swings and shots is the “Y-L-Full” swing idea.

Every round of golf is made up of small (Y), medium (L) and large (Full) swings that advance the ball different distances until you get the ball in the hole 18 times. It’s vital that we learn the differences between those swings and train all three motions accordingly and consistently.

The Y swing is the first and most basic motion. It’s length could range from a 2-foot putt to a 30-yard pitch, depending on the club selection and speed of the swing.

This really is the foundation of the entire golf swing and builds valuable understanding of the importance and sensations that go along with center-face contact.

It’s called the Y swing because the shaft of the golf club intersecting with your forearms creates the look of the letter Y, with your forearms creating the top of the Y.

We try and maintain the Y look to our club shaft and forearms by limiting our wrist hinge and unhinge on the backswing and downswing.

Wrist hinge and unhinge are great levers for creating speed, but when hitting a short shot with a greater importance on precision then minimizing speed is much more important.

Limiting wrist hinge and unhinge will sometimes give the stiff-wristed look to a player’s swing if their grip pressure is too tight or the swing gets too long on either side, so try and watch for such errors. We will always try and warm up with these shots to begin each practice session.

L swings are just longer swings that create more body rotation and more hinge and unhinge that in turn creates more speed and longer, higher shots. These represent your medium length swings.

The quality and efficiency of this motion will strongly represent the same qualities for the full swing. We see good players make L swings much of the time when faced with high lofted pitch shots, bunker shots or distance control iron shots.

We really start to have fun when we move to full swings because we get to hit the ball hard. This is your most explosive motion, which maximizes load on backswing and then once again maximizes the unloading of that energy on the downswing.

The easiest way to describe it is that it’s the biggest swing, back and through. These shots are used to maximize height and distance with whichever club you’ve selected to hit.

Practice sessions should always consist of a random selection of each type of shot.

With the short irons, 7–LW, I like players to hit one Y shot followed by one L shot followed by one full shot and so on through all their scoring clubs.

I also like players to chart nine holes of play and see how many of each different shots (Y, L or Full) they hit during those nine holes of golf.

Typically I see the breakdown around 13-25 Y shots, 5-10 L shots and 14-18 Full swings over the nine holes.

Try this approach and you’ll control your ball better and improve your scores.

For more tips from Golf Channel to help you improve your swing, click here.