In Search Of A Successful Golf Swing
One of the things I enjoy about golf is the opportunity to go back and play courses that caused me a lot of struggle when I was first learning the game. I had that chance last week when I played a course that got a lot of my money 20 years ago when I was absolutely horrible. The course itself has not changed much except that now they are mowing some of the rough areas that are in the “Slice Zone”. Fortunately I did not find any of those areas so I cannot comment on the conditions, which was a good thing as years ago I virtually lived in those places. Instead I spent the day picking out where I wished to land in the fairway and making a pretty good job of doing precisely that.
I am sure that you have watched the professionals on TV and marveled at how simple they make a golf swing look. That stare down the fairway, maybe a practice swing behind the ball, set up behind the ball, glance one more time, then a smooth back-swing and swoosh the next thing you see is their body facing the target club held high over the target side shoulder or folded back over the same. It is pretty obvious that they must have a strong swing for it to finish in much the same position as the beginning of the down-swing on the opposite side.
I am sure that when you go to the driving range your swing looks exactly the same!
Well not exactly, what I want and what I get are dependent on a number of factors that I am learning to control. So on those occasions that I finish my golf swing in the same manner that I began at the top of my down-swing in a mirror opposite I know what I have accomplished. First and foremost when my finish is even close to the same I will be where I want in the fairway. The other main thing that it tells me is that I maintained my balance throughout the swing, and that I made a smooth transition from my setup side (right) to my target side (left).
Lets break this down and try to construct the ideal golf swing. For any golf swing to be successful it needs to be accomplished while you retain balance. That means you are going to start out with your club-head behind the ball, swing back away from the ball as much as 180° then reverse the flow of that swing 270° in the opposite direction to hit a little white ball in precisely the center of your club-head to propel it down the fairway with maximum force and… remain standing on one foot balanced by the other on its toe. After that, Mark Twain has the audacity to call golf a “good walk spoiled” Seriously when you think about it, getting a golf swing finished at all is quite an accomplishment.
Okay, so lets start. The swing begins with a balanced setup. Tracy Reed teaches that you need to learn how to feel that setup with out using your eyes. In one of his blog posts he suggests that we spend some time at the range hitting balls with our eyes closed. If you sign up to be on his mailing list you will be given access to a video where he teaches his setup routine. The bottom line is that you start off your back-swing in a balanced manor leaning slightly over your non-target foot. As you coil into your back-swing you begin to feel your large muscles in that leg develop tension as you would in winding up a spring. Your weight is on your non-target (right) side hip. At the top of the back-swing you are fully coiled, your back is to the target, you make a slight move to transfer you weight in a balanced manner to your left foot and then turn your body back through the ball on your left hip which brings your shoulders and arms through the ball to face the target in a balanced way while releasing the power that you stored in your back-swing.
Several things have to happen here. A good setup is absolutely critical The distance from your shoulders through the club to the ball at setup cannot change at all during the entire swing. Optimally your hands are hanging straight down from below your shoulders, the angle that you set with your hands on the club when you setup behind the ball remains the same with regard to your shoulders throughout the back and through swings. When you begin to turn in your back-swing your whole upper body moves simultaneously as your upper body coils against the resistance of your lower body (especially the large muscles of the thighs).
You can look for this feeling in practicing at home, just making the back-swing several times you will notice this loading feeling. As you set up to the ball consciously tilt your upper body to put more weight on your non target hip, now turn and coil into your back-swing; if your weight is balanced on the (right) hip you will definitely feel the coiling. This is the stored power of the golf swing, and really the point (engine) of the swing, otherwise you are simply hitting (slapping) the ball with your arms and a little bit of shoulder muscle. Watch the golfers at the driving range you will notice that 80-90% of them are hitting with “arms only”swings.
The turn at the top of the back-swing is critical. It is the transition between the back-swing and the down-swing. Here if your setup is balanced with a smooth back-swing you should make an automatic weight transfer onto your target side foot. This gives your body the ability to pivot on the target side hip and come through the ball with good balance and maximum force. If you fail to shift your weight your transition turns on your back hip leading to a dreaded reverse pivot golf swing with the weight on the back leg and an inability to fully come through the ball with power.
The important thing to remember is that the transition needs to be a weight shift which leads to a swing with no lateral movement. As far as your hips are concerned you can only make a full turn to the right or left when your weight is fully resting on the designated hip, so you want your weight to be on your left side during the down-swing. Now, just like the rest of the golf swing there is not ever any time to think about it. Your setup routine and deliberate coiled back-swing with your elbows controlled and arm/upper torso angles maintained will automatically produce that weight shift that you are looking for. I know that sounds crazy, but I swear that it works. After years of swaying, twisting shoulders, “driving my hips” and numerous other gesticulations which did not work, I discovered that simply assembling the very best balanced setup/grip/stance routine combined with a controlled coordinated back-swing would automatically produce a weight shifted swing through the ball. Most importantly I can think about any of them as I do them before the swing occurs.
Your thoughts on this article are important to me please take the time to comment if you are so inclined.
Hit them straight and seldom,