‘How to set your club in motion’
KEEP THE TRIANGLE OF THE ARMS INTACT AS YOU SET OFF...
As I emphasised last time, it is vital that you take on board the basics of grip and posture – the starting points for every golfer – before moving on to the swing itself.
Once you have those elements in place, you will reap the benefit of a good body position – one that allows you to work on developing a natural swinging motion in which your grip can be seen to hinge correctly, both on the way back and on the way through, to unlock that all-important quality we are looking for through the impact area: clubhead speed.
A lot of golf instructors will begin a lesson talking about the importance of getting the body action working to create a basic turning motion, the assumption being that the arms and the club will follow suit. That can work well for the advanced player who already has a feel for striking a golf ball, but in my experience beginners – and particularly women – tend to learn more quickly and effectively when they focus on what the clubhead is doing, allowing the arms and body to respond to its momentum as they work on creating a natural swing arc.
And the key to enjoying that chain reaction lies in getting the swing underway as efficiently as possible – which is where the simple drill you see me helping Louise to master here will really help you.
SHOULDERS & ARMS TOGETHER
‘Rock your shoulders like you are hitting a long putt’, that’s my advice to Louise as she works on getting her swing underway. If you rock the shoulders and keep the arms in this triangle you will get off to the perfect start. It’s as simple as that. We are less than 5 minutes into this lesson and just look at how good and ‘together’ the takeaway move looks. The arms and body are working in harmony – there is no independent movement of any single component. Knocking away the second ball gives a real purpose to this all-important first move, and from here it’s a case of adding wrist hinge to get the club swinging on its way to the top of the backswing.
FEEL THE RADIUS OF YOUR SWING, ONE ARM AT A TIME
There’s a wonderful (and quite simple) symmetry in a good golf swing, and this exercise will help you to feel the way the radius of the swing is governed first by the left arm in the backswing, and then the right in the through-swing. Training those components individually will help you to greatly improve the shape of your swing with both hands on the club.
Having negotiated the allimportant first move away from the ball, the next stage involves introducing the wrist action that enables you to swing the club up on its way to the top of the backswing – a move that is mirrored on the other side of the ball en route to the finish.
Each of the exercises you see across this spread are designed to help you experience the sensations involved in making a natural swing shape – and the more you rehearse them, the more readily you will adapt to making these moves on the course.
First up, the one-handed drill you see Louise rehearsing here will help you to appreciate the way the left arm governs the radius in the backswing, with the right arm then extending that radius into the followthrough. The idea is to flip a club around, so that you grip the shaft near the head (which makes the club feel light in your hand), placing your free hand on your stomach, so that you can sense the rotation of your middle as you repeat the exercise, left then right.
Try to keep your swinging arm as straight as you can as you allow the wrist to hinge up. With each repetition you will be strengthening the heart of your natural swinging motion.
FEEL SWING, HEAR SWISH
Again with the club flipped around, use both hands to create a grip just below the head, and stand with your feet pretty close together. The club will feel light in your hands, and the idea is to use that to your advantage as you continuously repeat this swinging motion, and make as loud a swish as possible through the impact area.
The only thing I want you to think about is keeping your left arm as straight as you comfortably can as you hinge your left wrist in the backswing, and then on doing exactly the same thing with your right arm as you swing into the follow-through. Let your wrists do their job of providing that essential coupling between you and the golf club, hingeing and re-hingeing to create speed.
The third exercise I recommend involves extending the club up through your fingers until the butt end rests in your belly button, and simply reminding yourself of the need to have the club, arms and body working together on either side of the ball (below). Do this in between the rehearsal swings, just to remind yourself of the rotation that exists in a solid swing and also the way the arms remain in their ‘triangle’, working in tandem with your body.
FINE-TUNE WRIST ACTION FOR SPEED & SWOOSH
You can see from the images on this page just how well Louise has taken on board the lessons covered within this feature. In the 20 minutes or so that it took to shoot these photographs, she displays all the encouraging signs that I look for as a beginner builds on good fundamentals with a basic idea of what it takes to create a natural swing.
The key to the ‘breakthrough’ for all golfers is educating (and then trusting!) the wrists to hinge correctly so that the club is free to swing up on the backswing – as above – and again at the corresponding position in the follow through. That is what unlocks your potential for generating clubhead speed.
The training club we are using here is simply an old shaft fitted with a length of rubber tubing. You could easily make a similar club to use at home, and regular sessions working on your swing will help you to appreciate the role of the wrists in generating speed – which you hear as an amplified swish through the hitting area. It’s like cracking a whip, and through trial and error you learn to associate good hand and arm movement with the most effective acceleration through impact.
Best of all, your arms will pull your body into a series of good positions...without you having to think about it!