Friday, May 6, 2011

Understanding a Forward Press

One of the most misunderstood concepts in golf is the forward press. I can count on one hand the number of players I have seen at the United States Golf Academy who do it correctly. To count those who perform it incorrectly would take forever.

The best example of a player who used a correct forward press was Sam Snead. If you go to our blog you can see a video of Sam demonstrating and explaining a forward press. Sam’s forward press was a complete shift of weight from right to left and then as he shifted back, club and body moved away from the ball as one. There are many other examples of players who use this body press or lower body motion as a forward press. But in all cases, during the entire motion, the left arm and club remain in a straight line. Sam never, as so many do, pushed his hands forward while leaving his body still.

The most important fundamental in hitting good golf shots is to create a straight line from the shoulder, down the arm, extending all the way to the club head at impact. Mechanically, creating this straight line is the most efficient way to hit a golf ball. The club swings on an arc and if the radius of that arc is changed while the club is in motion, the chances of striking the ball are lessened. Also the timing of the strike is easier to maintain with a straight line than a bent one. Imagine how hard it would be to hit a golf ball if the golf club was bent halfway down the shaft. So, if you are a player who presses your hands forward for chips, or to hit lower shots? Don’t!

A bad forward press creates an angle from the arm to club shaft. At impact, when the club is angled in any way that differs from the arm, at best, you get a glancing and inaccurate blow. Now the problems begin. For example, rather than swinging the club back, you might lift the club up. After a couple of fat shots using this take away, a common fix is to move your head toward the target on the downswing. By moving the head forward, the bottom of the swing moves toward the target which compensates for the club angled back. Now at least, the club strikes the ball before the ground. However, the club is angled back, so the face is typically open at impact, resulting in a push, slice or shank. Some, to correct those problems, close the face of the club to the left to counter the previous open face. This creates another new layer of problems requiring another set of solutions. Eventually, you are so lost you can’t remember how to swing the club at all. My best advice? Avoid this and other problems by maintaining the straight line from shoulder to club at the start of your swing.

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