One of the most disruptive tendencies in golf is the dreaded two-way miss. Golfers who have a tendency to hook OR slice the ball can manage their game, but golfers who have a tendency to slice AND hook are in trouble.
One of the most common swing inhibitors associated with a two-way miss is called Early Extension. Rapsodo advisor Dave Phillips and Dr. Greg Rose at TPI define Early Extension on their site as any excessive forward movement of the hips towards the golf ball during the backswing or downswing.
Early Extension is extremely easy to identify. From the “Down The Line” view (same orientation that you would set up an MLM at), draw a line from the back of your tailbone directly down to the ground. You can even just use the edge of a piece of paper or scorecard during playback. If any daylight appears between the line and your hips, you’re early extending.
Here’s the video from the capture above. Though this isn’t taken from directly down the line, you can see how the golfer’s lower body is shifting excessively towards the ball. We would deem them to be early extending.
Look at the comparison of these three elite golfers below. See the daylight on the left? Jimmy Walker (left) has some early extension, Dustin Johnson and World Long Drive Champ Justin James don’t.
Early Extension is one of the most common tendencies among amateur golfers, but is quite rare in the professional ranks. It often results in a two-way miss because the golfer’s arms get trapped behind them, causing a right-handed player to block the ball to the right or hook the ball to the left. Either the arms stay stuck (causing the block) or the golfer attempts to compensate with their hands by flipping the club at the last minute (causing a hook).
Here’s Rapsodo advisor Mark Blackburn discussing why a two-way miss can be so detrimental and how early extension can be the cause of it:
If you’re struggling with a two-way miss, check to see if you have early extension. If you do, there’s a good chance that will be something you need to correct before your ball flight improves.
While there are a number of reasons why you might early extend, there are even more potential ways to teach yourself to avoid it.
Below is a drill from Rapsodo advisor Mike Malaska using tubing or cables (but you can use anything that is flexible and offers resistance).
This is an example of a teaching technique called Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT). Instead of using resistance to help you OUT of your fault, RNT uses resistance to pull you INTO your fault. By pulling your body towards the ball, it forces you to learn how to engage the appropriate muscles to avoid early extension. Amplifying the fault emphasizes the solution.
Many golfers who early extend do so because their body doesn’t have adequate mobility to rotate into their trail and lead hip. If rotation is limited, it’s easier for the body to move laterally or move closer to the ball. Dave Phillips shares several at-home drills you can do to assess whether or not you have the requisite mobility to avoid early extension and how you can teach yourself the necessary movement pattern to do so.
For golfers that are unable to get to the course, these are examples of drills that can be performed anywhere and have tremendous results.