The good news for anyone who recognises themselves in these snap shots is that every one of the faults that leads to these tragic moves can be corrected with a better understanding of the leg and hip action.
Let me introduce you to golf’s 'Magic Move’...
As long as you have a reasonably good grip, I believe you can recover from a crooked backswing.
Think of some of the unique swings in recent years. Lee Trevino. Ray Floyd. Paul Azinger. Or how about Jim Furyk?
All over the place going back, but look what gets him started down...the ankles roll and the knees move gently towards the target and suddenly the swing is right back on track approaching impact - when it matters most.
You wouldn’t want to copy the backswing of any of the players I’ve mentioned above, but you do want to copy what they do to start down. Lee Trevino makes a loopy backswing as unique as he is, but a Magic Move of the ankles and knees re-routes the entire swing and gets the arms and the club approaching impact on a good inside path.
That move from the ground up drops the elbows in front of your body and clears the path for you to release the club freely. Fred Couples is another great example. Again, the backswing is his own design, fairly steep and slightly outside the line, but a subtle move in the knees and - Boom! He’s attacking the back of the ball at speed. Here’s how you can do that, too.
Unwind from the ground up
This exercise will give you a feel for what I’m talking about. Hook a club behind your back, then make a full turn and shift your weight to get into a backswing position. From here (and this occurs almost before you have completed the backswing) you want to feel that a combination move of the ankles and knees working together reverses your body’s momentum back towards the target. That’s exactly what we mean when we talk about unwinding from the ground up.
With the club behind your back, you can get a terrific sense of the dynamic transition motion that gets your downswing started. As you get the hang of this move, you will find that you naturally build up the 'lag’ in your swing as the hands and arms fall naturally on to a shallow (and more powerful) downswing plane and 'flail’ behind the body - exactly what you want to achieve in the swing for the most efficient delivery of speed through the ball.
A Chain Reaction for every swing you make
To summarise, from the top of the backswing you are looking for this ground-up sequence through the transition into the downswing: the ankles and the knees reverse the momentum (enabling your body to 'settle’ in position, ready to deliver the clubhead through the ball). As the left hip begins to climb, you get this tremendous pulling of the handle, while the wrists remain loaded. One of the greatest swingers of the club the game has seen, Sam Snead,
was famous for this 'squat’ position.
From here, the hips multiply the energy, like the centre of a carousel, the kids whipping around the outside. The goal is to maximise these centrifugal forces to deliver the club on the right path and at the maximum efficient speed. A chain reaction for every swing you make
As the knees shift the arms come down
Here’s another interesting point. Using the knees gives the arms a chance to drop. Use your body and you simply do not give the arms time to fall into place. Even if you are out of sync going back, that subtle movement of the ankles and the knees gets everything back on track, so that you unwind together through the ball. And that’s where you use your hip and
stomach muscles to generate speed through the ball.
I mentioned Jim Furyk earlier, and he really is a fascinating example: steep with the arms behind him going back, whereupon the Magic Move of the ankles and knees gets everything back on track. All good players do this to
get the club in the right position for impact.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine