The Ultimate Tour Player Drill... And How It Can Fix Your Swing

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Nathan Cook discusses how this popular tour player drill can level up your game

Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood practising
(Image credit: Instagram @theswingplaneperfector)

If you struggle to consistently strike the ball how you intend to, swing too flat, or block or hook the ball, this could be THE DRILL for you! It went viral recently when Tommy Fleetwood showed just how good he is when he was spotted adding an extra degree of difficulty to the exercise.

As well as Fleetwood, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose and Alex Noren have all included this as part of their practice regime at one time or another. And it's easy to see why.

It's great for any golfer that struggles with keeping the clubhead in front of their body in the golf swing takeaway and into the impact position. When teaching amateurs, I often see the club moving inside or behind the body, becoming too deep and flat in the backswing, which can then restrict the coil and turn at the top.

That can then lead to issues in the transition and downswing, for example a re-route that causes golfers to get steep and cut across the ball. Or, in other cases, the club can get stuck and under the ideal plane line, making consistent contact difficult.

If this sounds like you, here's how to set this drill up and how it can help...

How to set it up

Fleetwood uses the Swing Plane Perfector when doing this drill, which is a great training aid if you want to spend the money on something more robust and precise, but it can be set up using just two alignment sticks. 

  • Place one alignment stick three inches inside the ball pointing at the target
  • Place the second one two feet behind the ball match your shaft angle at address

A PGA pro practising at a driving range

(Image credit: Nathan Cook)

Start slow

A lot of amateurs come out of their posture through impact, which can be caused by the club being under the ideal plane, so this drill will really help anyone needing to work on how to prevent early extension in your golf swing, but it's important to start slow. Here's what I recommend...

  • Set this up on your driving range, start with a short club and rehearse the feelings before hitting shots
  • Once you feel more comfortable, try some half-swing, 50% speed shots - this will give you a good feeling of the new positions
  • As the feeling becomes more natural and the confidence increases, move to full shots

PGA pro Nathan Cook practising golf at a driving range

(Image credit: Nathan Cook)

The benefits

You shouldn't do a drill just because you've seen one of your favourite golfers like Rory McIlroy doing it. It's got to be relevant to your game and provide some benefits. Below, I've listed the things this drill will help you with...

  • Allows for better width in the takeaway
  • Helps keep the clubface parallel with the spine angle in the takeaway
  • Gives the arms space to freely get to the top of the backswing
  • Helps you bring the club down in front of the stick, which makes it easier to stay in your posture through impact and turn through to the finish
  • Reduces clubface rotation through impact for more consistency

PGA pro Nathan Cook practising golf at a driving range

(Image credit: Nathan Cook)

Who shouldn't use this drill?

If you are a golfer in need of a fix for how to stop slicing the ball, you may be better moving the ball inside the stick on the floor and trying to swing under the stick rather on top of it.

That will allow you to work on shallowing the club better, which in turn will help you move better and make more solid contact.

Nathan Cook
Top 50 Coach

Location:  Hamptworth Golf Club (opens in new tab), Dibden Golf Centre (opens in new tab) and Skylark Golf &  Country Club (opens in new tab)

Nathan is an extremely passionate coach who works across a variety of clubs in Hampshire. His dad was a semi-professional footballer and coach, and he played football and tennis to a high standard growing up. The ambition was always to become a tennis coach, until he started playing golf aged 15 and he fell in love with the sport.

Greatest teaching success:

I would say I have two, the first is coaching a young lad for the previous six years who has now turned into a plus-2 handicap at 17 and is heading to college in America. The second would be a guy I met six years ago who had never picked up a golf club before but came along to a 30-minute initial lesson. He’s now a member of a golf club, a 12 handicap, has regular lessons, attends various events, brings his daughter to my junior coaching, and has genuinely become a friend. 


Teaching philosophy:

I believe that golf should be for everyone; regardless of age, ability, sex or background. The clubs I teach at are all very different from members only to pay-and-play. I want to ensure that my coaching stays consistent with all of my students and am very passionate about making the game as enjoyable as possible for everyone. My weekly junior programme is very diverse with a mixture of boys and girls, and children from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. I’ve also set up a golf society called the Top 100 Tour which gives all golfers the chance to play the best 100 courses in England. The idea is to offer amateur golfers the chance to play at some of the most exclusive golf courses that they might not have a chance to play otherwise. 

Greatest teacher:

The head pro from the club where I grew up and learnt to play in Boston, Lincolnshire. He was a great coach, really motivated us to go out and compete against each other all the time. He produced two golfers that are now on the European Tour, one on the Challenge Tour and two PGA professionals, including myself. All from a small club with limited facilities but a great club and a passionate pro. He was definitely someone who inspired me to become a golf coach.