The illusion of a ‘method’
I have a problem with ‘methods’ in golf (such as the recent ‘stack and tilt’ phenomenon). A ‘one size- fits-all’ approach is immediately squashed when you consider the variables in weight, arm /leg length, dynamic capability and flexibility we profile individually. Any individual or team that shouts ‘our method is the answer’ should be given a wide birth; a ‘method’ sells us a ‘constant’ but as we all know, the golf swing is organic and constantly changing.
I wrote The 7 Laws of the Golf Swing with one purpose in mind – to reveal the truth of the golf swing for what it really is and write and depict it in a unique way. And the fact remains that until we develop different shaped hands or an extra leg the golfing ability of a human being will always be determined by natural biomechanical laws and truths.
I am delighted to share in this article four of the primary images featured within my book that capture a golf swing’s sense of geometry, shape, timing and dynamics. By studying and employing any one of these four truths (ideally all of them!) in your own motion I am sure you will experience new sensations that help you to play better golf. Looking ahead to 2011, I look forward to appearing regularly in Gi with a series of fresh and entertaining features – if you have any questions or if there is anything specific you would like me to address, drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-Setting Weight Transference
Law 2 was probably the first time in golf instruction that the bone structure of a golferʼs body was displayed. Law 2 certainly was the ʻreadersʼ favourite as it left no doubt as to how and why you should be standing to the ball. Whilst I agree that the weight transference during the backswing should be minimal, the current theory of leaving it centred over the ball (as per stack ʻnʼ tilt theory) is only half of a story that needs to be told. Modern theorists will tell you that nothing can go wrong strike-wise with this centralised winding of the body, yet they turn a blind eye to the fact that, equally, the sternum can move ahead of the ball during the downswing. This is twice as problematic!
You can now see with the smaller pictures (right) how this works with the driver through to the wedge.With its small and slower motion, a wedge shot needs little if any weight shift at all. The spine and sternum can assume a frontal position which leans slightly target-ward with the right foot narrowed. The mid iron, as you can see, has the spine marginally tilted away from the target with the nose directly looking down the sternum.
With this marginal weight shift already pre-programmed, the need to create weight transference or a conscious wind-up behind the ball is made obsolete.Why do we need a marginal weight shift anyway? Because without something called ʻdisassociation ʼ, which is a stretch between the upper and lower body, no strong kinematic chain or flow of force can ever occur in the downswing.
Lastly, the driver; the right foot has widened and the spine is now at its maximum tilt away from the target. Apart from the automatic weight shift I mentioned a moment ago, this rearward tilt provides a perfect bodily launch angle for the driver especially if you position your hands slightly behind the ball at address.
Iʼd like you to note one last detail in the image – it can be found in the way the nose bone is always aligned to the sternum and spine no matter what club. This has two benefits: it is safe and structurally sound to have this linear relationship between the head and the spine and secondly, it temporarily stalls the turn of he torso early in the backswing allowing the club and body to sync up nicely. Now thatʼs efficiency!
BEFORE YOU THINK ‘POSITIONS’, THINK ‘SYNC’
Law Four is called ʻthe swingʼs dimension of timeʼ. Time after time I will see amateurs and professionals obsessively working on the plane of their swing or some other aspect that doesnʼt look as pretty as they would like, and no matter how hard they try to force the club into this ʻslotʼ it never takes shape.
Look at it this way: the only reason the hands on your watch point at the right numbers at the right time is due to the synchronization of all the moving parts behind the face. Your golf swing works exactly the same way; certain parts have to move further distances than others and therefore they need to move quicker! the most obvious example is the golf club itself which is depicted here by a rather large feather. So before you think ʻpositionsʼ think...ʻsync!ʼ
With the average clubhead travelling about 12 feet in the backswing and the torso only 12 inches, you can start to comprehend how it would be really easy for these two to miss each other at impact. The key is to have the clubhead working like the feather so it covers its greater distance fairly rapidly and ʻsyncs upʼ to the torso.
Aside from the timing benefit you can also appreciate the kind of leverage you can generate through actually using your hands. The fundamental motion of a golf swing is very similar to that of cracking a whip – in both activities the hands provide the vehicle or the transporter of any energy the body may have created. I have seen strong guys with poor grips and poor leverage hit it absolutely nowhere yet you can take an average-sized guy like Sergio Garcia and the rewards from having superb leverage are evident.
The innocent feather image also locks us into a firm law of physics,
too.With force equal to mass + acceleration, this image of the club or
feather revolving around the body immediately has the club in a
lighter state; your capability of moving it quickly is now much easier.
Itʼs a simple image with a huge results:
THE SWING PLANE’S ‘LINE OF FIRE’
This area of golf instruction is very ambiguous but what I can say with 100%conviction is that I have no chance of ever creating decent arm and club plane if the torso and bigger mass is misbehaving. So once again – and rather like the feather image – if you want a better swing plane and shape to your swing you first have to work on your body positioning.
But letʼs assume that you have all of that down and your good to go. The truth of swing plane, the big bang of swing plane, the holy grail of swing plane is the lie angle of the golf club!Which is why you should get fitted around great posture and not your impact position (please take note all you club fitters!).
I have a very simple statement for you that you should never forget about your swing: ʻit is simply a circle on its side!ʼ – thatʼs all. The lie angle of the club and consequent body motion play a huge role in what the swing plane should look like but the basic premise is this: there have been more great players displaying a slightly ʻlaid offʼ position at the top of their swings than players who have been ʻon lineʼ or ʻacross the lineʼ.Why is this? The reason can be found in this image.
So, your goal for the club is this: when your left arm is parallel to the ground you really want the butt of the club either just inside or (as per my example) pointing directly at the ball-to-target line. In doing this you will enjoy good club and body synchronicity (with what I term a ʻnon-aggressive planeʼ) and can then continue to reach this on-line and in-sync position at the top.
THE STEP-IN-DRILL YOUR KEY TO A MORE DYNAMIC DOWNSWING
The step-in-drill is quite simple: take your regular 7 iron set up...draw your left foot in so its nearly touching the right shoe...make your backswing but as you near the top...make your step with the left foot and collect the ball as usual.
This is the most naturally dynamic way to train a downswing that has good ʻsequencingʼ, can accumulate power and deliver the clubhead with speed and mass. There is a wave like motion that great down swings display where the transferance of energy is kinetically driven.
Now all of that sounds highly technical but the fact is this: there is very little difference between the way you walk down the street putting your left foot in front of your right and shifting your weight and a potent downswing. One last key.As you make your step, the earlier and the deeper (as in squat) you go the more torque and power you will generate. Need more proof? Just check Rory Mcilroyʼs swing!
Interestingly enough there have been two players – Gary Player and Padraig Harrington – who have used the dynamics of this motion to their benefit in tournament golf. Such is the potency of this flowing energy wave that it provides the extra speed in the clubhead needed to blast the ball from the rough.
So just to recap, take your regular 7 iron stance, then draw in the left foot to the right to make a mini stance.Make a smooth backswing and then let the left foot assume its normal position as you make your step forward.
Like I said, the wider and the deeper you make this step and squat the better – it will super-charge the torque you have available to you.