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Lesson of the Week: Marty Russo

Marty, a former congressman from Chicago and now a prominent Washington lobbyist, can still play some solid golf in his mid- 60’s. He has a tendency to miss-hit his iron shots (mostly thin) and would like to be able to compress the ball and to take a consistent divot in front of the ball (who wouldn’t). As you will see, Marty slides a bit in the backswing, and then gets a bit out of synch with his sequence by leaning forward with the upper body to start the forward swing. With pressure on the front of his left foot in transition his rotation is slowed and his legs fail to clear in a timely fashion. The result, as you have seen many times in previous lessons, is a flippy release, as the hands have to release the club early to square the face when the left side is in the way (still too square to the target line at impact) and the upper right side can’t move forward enough to sustain a right wrist bend through the impact area. Marty has to be able to keep his head from moving more than a little bit forward as he pushes off more aggressively from the inside of the right foot (the reason why it is so important not to roll onto the outside of the foot in the backswing) and attempts to rotate the lower as fast as he can. We want to see the left knee disappear from view on the down the line view when the left arm is close to parallel to the ground in the forward swing. When the knee is still visible when the shaft is parallel to the ground you know that the body will be facing the ball too much at impact, and a flip is imminent. We have worked on this in the past, and it is evident that Marty’s backswing, with his hips sliding to the right, is putting him in a position he is not good at recovering from, and thus it should be the priority in his practice. His downswing thought should be to keep his head still and drive 45 degrees or more left as hard as he can. The general idea, as usual, is the sidearm throw, and we all know you can’t throw very effectively sidearm when you are facing sideways. To lever the right arm you have to step in and open up hard, and this, without the stepping in of course, is what we want Marty to be focusing on.


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