Monday, August 9, 2010

Golf Swings by Committee.

A very smart person once told me that the best way for an individual of my limited mental capacity to understand how our brain works in a golf swing is to realize that for the purposes of swinging a golf club, our brain is not one big brain, but a million little ones. Each small brain has a specific job while working in conjunction with the rest of the other brains. For example, the brain that controls the right index finger works in conjunction with the rest of the brains that control the right hand. They in turn work with the other brains, which control the other body parts involved with the activity. So in a sense we swing the golf club by committee. If you try to take that line of logic one step further, I guess it would be fair to say that the best way to swing a golf club is to not start a fight within the committee.

Without question the most frequent instigator of the battles that occur within the committee of brains responsible for swinging the golf club is the eyes. We have even coined a term for it. We call it visual interference. Rather than swing the club in circle around our body as the body is a position to do, our vision perceives a straight line to the target and we route the club on the perceived straight line to the target. This always causes a mishit shot. The solution to this problem is to not allow the eyes to interfere once the club is in motion. Don’t try to steer the club to the target. Swing the golf club through the ball and let the club face take care of direction.

Another visual issue that creates a fight is when the eyes move during the swing or shift attention while you are in motion. Your body, particularly your hands, then reacts to the new visual. This shifting of focus and eye movement during the swing is particularly troublesome when attempting short shots and putts, where the combination of precision and speed is most important. Let’s use a putt as an example. The player swings the putter away from the ball and the eyes follow the putter. At some point toward the end of the backswing the eyes shift back to focus on the ball. The hands and arms then react to the new “target” by rerouting the club and moving where the eyes have focused. This reroute and interruption of the stroke causes the putter return to the ball in a different position than the start and we miss the putt. Other examples of missed shots caused by a shift in visual focus are countless. Skulled chips, missed short putts, shanked wedges, and any number of full swing problems can often be traced to eye movement during the swing. So next time you play, instead of trying to keep your head still, try keeping your eyes still and maintain focus on one place all the way through the swing.

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