General Concepts of the Golf Swing

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Golf is a Two Sided Game

The two lever model of the left arm and the shaft comprising the whole "swing system" is far too simple.  The human body just does not work in such a manner.  A more biomechanically accurate description is that of a 8-Lever Flail. 


Master Swing Image

Your effort for all golf learning should be focused around a central mental and kinesthetic image of what you are trying to accomplish with your swing.  The goal is to match up your mental image with the sensory feedback you get after every swing.   Mentally we want a simple picture of the effort we are to make.  In its simplest form the golf swing is nothing more than a movement of a radius arm around a semi-fixed axis of rotation.  In other words, look at the ball to fix the head in a relatively stable Kinesthetically we want to feel the coordination between your body and arms.  Your shoulders are the prime mover of the club.  The club is simply a dead extension of the arms.  We have muscular control over our arms while the club simply responds to the muscle forces that swing it.  The golf swing is little more than the sensation of looking at the ball and "throwing the club away".  Few of us would have any trouble bending over, looking at the ground and throwing the club down the fairway.  That would be easy!  The golf swing is equally easy if we don’t mess it up with complicated details.  In fact a good golf swing is a natural and easy movement.  Believe it or not, it is easier to make a good swing than it is to mess it up.  Learning to believe this concept is one of the major obstacles we all face when learning to play.  When you make the transition from fear of failure to positive expectations, your scores will begin to drop into position and swing the arms at the ball to establish a radius.

Motion/Position of the Left and Right  Hands

The function of both hands is to provide stability and control of the club.  They do NOT add power!.  Power in the golf swing is generated by by the slinging motion of the arms caused by a rotation of the shoulders in a circle around are relatively stable nose.  Power is added with the extension of the right arm from a folded position at release to being completely straight through the impact area.  This is NOT a hitting action with the hands.  It is a free-flowing extension towards the target.  Where the right arm goes, so goes the ball.  On a good swing, you should feel as if you are shooting a pistol at the target or more appropriate for golf, like you are carelessly, recklessly throwing the the club down the fairway.  Merrins teaches this concept in his DVD … Part 2 with Robert Wagner at about the 16 minute mark.

This graphic illustrates the parts of the transition/down swing and the forward swing.  From the top of the backswing, the first move is a small “bump” of the left hip.  This is NOT a driving of the knees.  The golf swing is a middle and upper body movement.  The role of the legs is to support the movement of the torso and the arms.  Following the bump, the second movement is a nearly simultaneous dropping of the right elbow and the initial opening of the hips. The transition move is the single most important part of the swing.  Other mistakes can be made, but this is the area of the swing where good players make the most improvement … after a basic swing motion has been overlearned! Once these two moves have been correctly made, the forward swing begins with a powerful turning of the both the hips and shoulders.  The forward swing is nearly foolproof if the backswing and transition have been correctly executed!


It's all about angles and straight lines ... approaching the ball, good transition mechanics allow you to hold the "lag" longer.  This produces clubhead velocity.  At impact, there is a straight line relationship between the between the left shoulder, the handle and the clubhead.  The hands can be fractionally ahead of the clubhead.  In the early followthru period, just after the ball has lost contact with the face, there should be a straight line relationship between the swing center, the handle and the clubhead.  If the hands are ahead of the clubhead, the ball will be curving to the right.  If the hands are behind the clubhead, the ball will be curving to the left.  In the middle followthru period, when the handle will be slinging towards the target.  There will be a straight line relationship between the right shoulder, the handle and the shaft of the club.  Depending on the degree of backwards tilt of the upper body, the left elbow will be folding or about to fold.  At the finish position, the right shoulder, right hip and left ankle will form a straight line relationship.

The hands DO NOT roll over.  They revolve or rotate through a 180° change in position.  The terms supinate and pronate are often INCORRECTLY used to describe this movement.  These terms apply to the relationship of the forearm bones.  The radius or "thumb" bone is ALWAYS on top and the ulna or "pinky" bone is always on the bottom in a correct relationship.  Neither arm pronates or supinates.  Both arms are in a neutral position.  Both arms stay in a neutral position throughout the entire release movement.  Note how at the release point the right palm is facing forward and the left hand is facing the target line.  At impact both thumbs are facing the target line.  In the followthru, the hands have revered position relative to their release position.  The right palm is now facing away from the target line while the left palm is facing forward.  The Thumbs are ALWAYS on top of the handle.  If the thumbs roll to either side of the handle, the ball will be curving.

The right side of the body and the right arm are involved in the release.  The hips rotate to clear a path for the movement of the arms.  The shoulders power the slinging motion of the arms ... they are the motor for the swing motion.  The left arm forms the radius for the swing arc into and through contact with the ball.  The right arm supports the position and movement of the left arm.  At impact the continuing forward movement right hand creates a force coupled lever in it's relationship with the slowing left hand.  It is very important to understand this power addition is completely subconscious.  There should be no effort to "snap" the wrists through the ball.  The timing of the swing is nearly automatic when preceding, critical movements have been executed.

More on the Blue on Blue

From the release point, through impact, onto your hands pointing at the target (waist high) or followthru position, the hands turn 180°.  On the backswing side, the left hand and the right palm face forward.  At impact, both thumbs are on top of the shaft, palms facing each other.  At the waist high target side followthrough position the hands have reversed their position.  The left palm and the back of the right hand both face forward.  This involves  a straightening of the wrists, a rotation around an imaginary axis extending from the middle of the grip (left thumb area) up to the center of your chest.  Each end of this imaginary line moves forward towards the target.  The center of your chest moves forward only a few inches.  The center of your grip moves forward about 20”.  And, the clubhead moves forward about  4’.   All three points move forward until they form a straight line relationship as impact ends with the ball separating from the clubface (as shown in other illustrations). The hands DO NOT roll, pronate or supinate as some popular golf books say.  Your thumbs stay on top of the shaft.  They are in the same position relative to your forearms as they were at address.  There is no deliberate “uncocking” or hitting.  The hands release naturally when the centrifugal force moving up the shaft is greater than your strength to resist the uncocking. 

Blue on Blue is BOTH the name of a drill and a slightly longer poem  … Blue on blue, left arm back, right arm through.  This poem needs a little interpretation.  Left arm back means the left arm is controlling the entire backswing and transition motion.  This is true for  the takeaway, the backswing, the upswing, setting the hands at the top and the transition into the downswing.  Right arm through means the right arm controls the forward swing from the moment it begins to fully extend just after release all the way up to your finish position.  This includes the entire time the club in contact with the ball.  Again, the right arm controls the swing (arc length, swing path, speed and point of bottom dead center contract) from the moment of impact up to the finish position.

What the Hands Do In The Swing

The most important purpose of your hands is to create a semi-rigid connection to the club.  What your hands do is what the clubhead does.  If the ball is curving, then the hands were not square to the swingpath.  Your learning goal is to learn how to “sling” the club, allowing the hands to automatically control the club relative to the type of grip position you used at address.

The right thumb bone (radius) stays on top and the left pinky bone (ulna) stays on bottom..  Your thumb bones and your pinky bones “stack” one on top of the other.  At no time do they turn over or under the shaft on a normal shot.  Think of this movement as a long sweeping turn.  The left hand “backhands through impact while the right hand “slaps” through impact.   There is no “rolling” of the wrists.  The thumbs stay on top!

On the backswing side, you see the back of the left hand facing you.  On the forward side of the swing, you see the back of the right hand facing you.  You do not have to do anything to make this happen!  The motion and position of the hands is much like the swinging of a gate.

Sling the Handle

From the release point, the handle of the club is powered by both hands freely slinging past the nose.  The right hand supports the club and then creates a force coupled lever with the left hand.  As the left hand reaches slows down in the impact area, the right hand continues it's forward movement.  At the moment the clubhead loses contact with the ball, both arms are fully extended.  The left arm gives way to the right arm as it assumes control of the swing arc on the followthru side of the swing.

Stay in the Triangle

These four pictures represent a very important concept … the synchronization of the swinging of the arms with the rotation of your body.  First, note how at the end of the impact position (when the club separates from the ball) BOTH arms are fully extended.  This is what I mean by “sling” and by free-flowing.  These players are holding nothing back nor are they overpowering the swing.  They have found the maximum swing speed they can control.  By control, I mean FEEL.  Second, note how the line extending from the shaft  is inside the triangle all the way through the impact area.


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