Forward Swing ... Downswing to Release to Finish
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What is commonly called the forward swing needs more attention to detail. It can be logically broken into three parts ... the downswing to the release point, the downswing to impact, the foreswing to early release, middle followthru and late followthru plus the completion of the swing to finish. Breaking the swing into this many parts is for knowledge, learning and practice, not performance.
The forward swing begins at the end of the transition (cock, bump and drop). While the forward swing might be divided into many parts, the movements which describe the parts are ... hold, turn and throw. The hold or the release point position is illustrated by the right hand image in the graphic on the right. The transition is completed with the drop move described on the transition page of this site. Several checkpoints of correct performance can be observed. First, note the relative, vertical stability of swing center. Your head does NOT yoyo up and down. Viewed from a down the line angle, you would see your spine angle remain the same as it was at address. Next, note the weight transfer as illustrated as the distance the center of the hips move forward, relative to a line through the left foot and knee. By the end of the transition, nearly all forward movement is finished. Any additional forward movement is a result of the rotation of the hips and shoulders. Note the tilt of the shoulders as your body moves to the release point. Finally, note the angles of the left wrist/shaft and the right elbow. As the wrists uncock from the release point, the right elbow begins to straighten from a full 90º flex. None of this forward movement is due to the driving of the "lower body/knees". The is a 60's era teaching/performance concept which does not relate to the evolved, modern bio-mechanical swing motion. All of this is learned thru dedicated practice and applied subconsciously during play. You cannot have mechanical thoughts while playing. Everything must be "overlearned" to the point of automatic, consistent performance.
There is a critical timing concept involved in the movement of the downswing. The hips lead the movement with both a lateral and rotary movement. The shoulders begin to move as a result of the movement of the hips. There is only a very small difference in the timing of these movements, but the correct sequencing of the movement is critical. It is so critical, a player with intermediate level skills cannot progress to a state of advanced skill without specific practice on this timing problem. Hogan is known for his instruction to rapidly turn the hips from the top of the backswing. He focused on the movement of the left hip. This website focuses on the movement of the right hip as a better way to get the proper movement without the danger of over rotation to which many teachers object. Your arms should be the last body part to move. While you may not be able to feel the subtle difference between the movement of the hips and the shoulders, a good way to insure the correct sequence is followed is to practice a delayed dropping of the arms. You can feel a definite difference between your hip movement and any arm movement. One way to describe the feeling is the hips move while your hands seem to be caught on something the prevents them from moving downward. There should never be any deliberate attempt to retain a late or deep wrist cock.
When the hold movement is completed, the swing motion transitions from a downward movement into a forward movement. Centrifugal force overcomes your forearm strength and the wrists begin to uncock. Remember, your focus is on the handle of the club. The lag motion of the movement from the drop to the hold position is different for every player. Your degree of hold will be dependent on the quality of your swing motion (the ability to create lag) and the strength of your forearms to naturally resist the uncocking action. At impact, there is another critical timing checkpoint. Your left arm and the shaft should form a nearly straight line from the ball to your shoulder (for a long shot). There should be a slight bend at the handle. Your left hand should be fractionally ahead of the clubhead. If you play the ball further back in your stance for shorter clubs/shots, the straight line and hands slightly leading point of performance continues. Related to timing, you should never swing the club faster than your ability to feel the movement of the handle.
Control of the radius and direction of the swing arc switches as the hands and club pass through the impact area. The left arm controls the backswing and the right arm controls the forward swing AFTER impact. In one sense the right arm has little to do with the golf swing. On the backswing side, the right arm pretty much goes along for the ride and tries to stay out of the way. Through impact the left arm is still in control, but the right arm adds some power as it extends to a straight position. The left hand slow near the impact area and the right arms completes it's extension. This creates a force coupling lever acting on the handle, which adds the final acceleration of the club. This is NOT the same thing as "hitting" with the hands. This extension can be very properly call "swinging through the ball". After impact, the right arms carries the club up to the finish and the left arm tries to stay out of the way (left elbow folds) .
Note how the nose continues to point at "where the ball was" until the right shoulder drags it up and out of the the shot. This is the first lesson everyone should master in the game ... look at the ball, there's a much better chance you might hit it! Finally, note how the right hip and shoulder both finish onto and slightly through the front foot. Both the hips a shoulders move past "stomach facing the target".
Slinging the handle of the club not only provides great physical force to the swing, but it also provides a tremendous level of control when the position of the handle relative to the left shoulder (or target at waist high followthru) is used as a MASTER swing que.
"Point your nose at where the ball was and throw your arms past your nose" modifies the hammer thrower's slinging motion. In the hammer throw, the wrists do NOT play a role. This concept should be applied to golf as well. The clubhead may be much lighter than a hammer, the idea is the same ... turn the shoulders to move the arms which move the club. The hands are passive connectors, NOT active hitters. This hands free, slinging motion is the ticket to both power and consistent control.
The image of Hogan's followthru and finish is illustrative of more critical points of performance. Note the nose pointing at where the ball was. The full free-flowing release ... nothing is left behind, yet there is no obvious "effort" to power the ball. The finish position shows the right hip catching up and even passing the right shoulder as well as perfect balance. The LPGA logo is also illustrative of this full, free-flowing release position where the right hip catches and passes the right shoulder.
Where's the Motor? This concept DOES NOT capture the correct mental image of a good golf swing. The girl on the swing provides the power by pushing her feet against the ground. This is completely bassackwards of what happens in a golf swing.
The rotation of a hammer "thrower" is much closer to a golf swing should be made than a child's swing set! The golf swing is a SLING, not a swing! It is all about where the power comes from. The golf swing is a rotary motion. A swing is a pendulum motion which must be started at the bottom. A golf sling motion begins in the middle and flows outward from the hips to the shoulders to the arms on to the club AND from the hips to the legs to the feet and into the ground.
Pictured is the sequential swing motion of Mike Austin the man who has hit the longest recorded drive in competitive golf history. This is a picture of the early "big muscle" swing motion. Mike was an engineer and kinesiologist by education. Pay attention to his movement through the ball from a deep lag and release (upper row, right and bottom row left) to full extension in the inside middle pic. This is a very long release motion in a short time period. This is a picture of pure power. Notice how his hands REVOLVE through a 180° semi-circle from the beginning of his release to his waist high followthru position. There is no handsyness or appearance of "hitting". This picture series demonstrates the classic reverse "C" finish. Note how his Flammer training aid ensures a large extension (separation of his hands from his body) and wide swing arc. The shaft in this club must have been a telephone pole. There is hardly any bend. In the impact image, note how the shaft is bowed FORWARD, kicking the clubhead through the ball. It is a little known fact, that even in good swings, the shaft unloads before impact. Finally note, how the knees lead the body through the forward swing. To use this move, the "T" formed by the spine and two collarbones must tilt backwards and the right shoulder must drop downwards. The secret to this powerful swing can be seen in how the right hip passes through the ball's address position.
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