Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Guide to Understanding your Golf Swing

I look at golf swings every day, all of them a little different. I also get requests every day to explain the issues people have with their golf swings. Whether I interact in person or online, I will never feel what it is like to swing the club like those I analyze. I watched Arnold Palmer swing a golf club thousands of times, and though I felt I was as familiar with that swing as my own, I would never know how it felt to swing the club as he did. The best I could do is to understand how my interpretation of his golf swing felt to me. He and I found that was not a very efficient way to communicate. So as an instructor I had to find a way of understanding his swing and communicating my thoughts to them so we were both in agreement.

I found this to be a tough task until I was introduced to the idea of verbalizing a golf swing. Originally, the application of the theory was if I could verbalize the movements of my swing in the proper sequence I could use that “check list” as a way to work through any issues I might be having. As time went along I found if I could verbalize the proper sequence of my students and we both used the same words I could easily see where they had gotten off track with a conversation we both understood. The idea of verbalizing the swing has now grown to the point that I work with the majority of my students online. It has proven to be a much more efficient and productive use of time for both myself and the client.

Step One in this process is to find a way to start. Historically, there have been three types of swings. One is where the arms swing around the body in conjunction with the rotation of the torso. This swing was called flat. Mr. Palmer and Ben Hogan are good examples of this move. There were the upright swings, where the shoulders turned as the arms lifted the club into position. Jack Nicklaus, the late Payne Stewart, and many famous LPGA players like Nancy Lopez and Juli Inkster use this method. Finally, there are those who split the difference, arm on top of the shoulder is the way I describe these players. Tiger Woods of 2000, Adam Scott and Greg Norman have had a great influence on this method.

The following diagram shows the three arm positions at the top of the swing.

So which one are you? Each of these methods has a sequence of motion that puts the clubin the position they find at the top of the swing. The player on the left starts with his arms, and his shoulders follow the club to the top. The player on the right starts with his shoulders, and then lifts his arms into position. The player in the middle uses a combination of shoulders turning and as the arms swing back. How you get to this position is important, and pretty much a preference and matter of comfort. It is not as important as this:

The sequence of motion that gets you back to the ball for impact is dictated by the position of the arm at the top of the swing. The sequences are different, not the same and

So as you read this winter and the authors are sharing their idea of the best swing. Be very aware if the description of their method matches the description of yours. You can save yourself a lot of issues come spring if you stay with your method.

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