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Swing Arcs and Planes
The human body is well designed to accurately deliver the clubhead to the ball on the desired path and to square the face to the desired target. The trick is to cooperate with what you body can do when correctly positioned at address and allowed to "SLING" freely.
Outline of Fundamentals
Left to Right
Distance from the ball
Role of the Parts
Assembly of the Parts
Foot Placement ... the left foot is angled outward by about 15-25° relative to a person's swing speed. This of course is an individual technique. The faster you swing, the more angle you might want. If you are hooking the ball, angle the left foot outward to slow your weight transfer onto the front foot. If you are slicing the ball, square the left foot to allow you to move to and through the front foot. The right foot is generally pointed straight ahead relative to the intended target line. Foot placement directly affects balance. Pigeons (toes pointed in) have great balance with their toes pointed inward, but they have no flexibility. Ducks have great flexibility, but no balance.
Balance ... when all is said and done in your pre-swing set-up, you should end up balanced the same way as if you simply standing up. This means 50/50 left to right foot and 50/50 from toe to heel. It is often said you should balance your weight on the balls of your feet. OK, so long as you know the balls of your feet as it pertains to golf are located just behind the fatty pad that transverses the bottom of your foot. If you are going to make a mistake, favor the toes. This said, know your weight will transfer forwards and backwards while the club is moving. At the top of your backswing, your weight will be favoring your right instep and your right heel. On the forward swing, your weight will reverse to the outside and front of your left foot. Your weight should never get too far outside your left foot before contact is made with the ball. Only after you are well into your follow through will your weight transfer onto the outside of your front foot. "Driving" your knees through the ball is an 1960's era, "reverse C" swing style that was a blip on the evolution to today's biomechanically efficient swing motion. Getting your weight outside of your front foot too early causes an excessive tilting of the "T" (spine and two collarbones). This may work for power driving a tee ball, but it also causes fat shots and alligator arms on shorter shots.
Body Aim ... align your knees and shoulders. Forget the hips and the feet. The hips will always be half way between your knees and shoulders and your feet lie to you! Aiming the feet is an archaic way of setting up to the ball. The line of the toes is directly related to the direction the feet are pointing. The golf swing is NOT made from the ground up! It is made from the upper body down to the feet and from the upper body out the arms to the clubhead. Get this old advice out of your head as soon as possible. The purpose of the legs is to support the movement of the body and the arms and to lengthen the swing arc (or just hit the ball off of your knees).
The better your skill, the more you will want to play from a slightly open alignment. Dead square alignment is for less skilled players who need some assistance to release the swing through the ball. Alignment is directly interrelated with L/R ball position. When you change one, you change both. This lead to a lot of frustration when practicing. The general rule of thumb is ... shoulders open, ball back; shoulder open, ball forward. A lot of people will howl with a fury at these last comments. Golf is often a game of paradoxical opposites. To fix a slice or hook, you aim your shoulder at the mistake ... but don't forget to fiddle with your foot position and ball position. Oh, and don't try this from a bad posture ... chin down or reaching out for the ball has already killed your swing, so why bother. Golf is a game of knowledge and discipline. This is one reason why golf pros are dangerous!
And, for the record, you do not return to club to your address position. This is still another old, bad instruction. At impact, the hands are further ahead, your weight is on the front foot and your shoulders and hips have opened up to make room for your arms and club to sling through. The objective of your address is to get into a functional position where you can move the club up to the top of the backswing. The objective of the top of the backswing is to be in a position to freely, confidently and powerfully throw the club away towards the target!
Club Aim ... the club must be correctly aimed at the target if you want to reduce the amount of curve to a shot. This means flat and square. If the club is sitting on it's heel, with the toe up, the clubface is pointed to the left. The rule of thumb is to be able to slide a dollar bill under the club to about halfway between the toe and heel (on a smooth surface, not on turf). This gives just enough room for the shaft to flex in a "toe down" direction through impact. More than this is too much. It is a clubfitting and manufacturing trick to have too much toe up at address. It tends to reduce the amount of slice in a bad swing motion. This feels very good. The trick is, for every little bit of benefit, there is a price to pay. When the toe is up, the effective hitting area on the clubface is substantially reduced. You will slow down the curve, but you will also hit fewer solid shots. This is a psychological trick. The good shots will lure you into thinking your swing has improved when it still stinks!
The second club alignment problem involves having the clubface too open at address. Few people have the club closed (aimed left). When the clubface is open, your hands must close the gap while the club is moving. Good players can do this, but would be much better off if they started square and stayed square. It's like the forward pass in football ... three thing can happen and two of them are bad. Where the club faces at impact is the direction the ball will curve. The more open or closed the clubface is relative to your Swingpath, the more curve you will see. It isn't hard to play Dick Tracy. Watch the ball fly through the air ... remember, the ball doesn't lie, and observe the curve. If there is a bunch of curve your path and face were way out of square.
FYI, the physics of ball to face contact is not a 50/50 game. The initial direction the ball flies is not half way between the face and the swing path. It flies closer to the clubface direction by a factor of about 65-80% depending on the length of the shot (the X path and Y face yardages in the illustration). Traditional ball flight analysis is too simple to explain the dynamics of 3-D motion. This little known fact can help you figure things out and to learn faster. You should worry about making a perfect swing path motion far less than worrying about hitting the ball with the face square to the target. Also, swing path is a relatively stable variable in the swing motion. It takes a lot of bad to change the swing path. It takes nearly nothing to mis-align the face. Squaring the face to the target is the far, far more important problem than having a perfect swing path.
Learn to form a perfect "T" between the bottom scoring line on the clubface and the your imaginary target line. This takes some effort. If you have been a "fanner" who squares the face while the club is moving, then this will be a fight to the death between your body and mind. It is a fight worth getting into.
Bow Squat & Hangle Learning Technique ... you need a systematic way of assuming your posture. You must do the same thing, the same way every time. BS&H is a practice technique designed to give you a way to FEEL correct posture.
The starting position is standing tall, feet spread a shoulder width apart with the handle of the club on the right shoulder. Your knees are locked! This is a three step, by-the-numbers technique. Take care to do each movement correctly and independently of the others. Do not blend the movements. Keep your back straight and your head erect then bow over from the hips. The amount of bow varies relative to the length of the shaft.
Bow over to the point where you begin to feel yourself losing your balance towards the toes and you feel you heels wanting to come off the ground
Squat by simply break your knees and allow your balance to re-center between your toes and heels. This is a minimum amount of knee break. The combined effect is to naturally move your center of gravity over the top of your shoe laces.
Hangle means hang and dangle your arms from your shoulders. This is a critical point of performance. It gets you standing the correct distance from the ball. Do this move by simply allowing your arms and the club to fall into place. The end of the handle will be about one fist width away from your thighs.
Checkpoints of Correct Performance
Butt Up ... this means you do NOT have an excessive bend in your knees. The old idea about sitting on a bar stool is 100% dead wrong because it causes your weight to be balance on your heels. Name one sport where you play from your heels.
Chest Down ... you must bow over enough to allow your arms to hangle. Too little bow and you are playing from an unbalanced position on you heels. Too much bow and you will have an excessive wrist break between your forearms and the shaft. This line should be relatively straight with only a small amount of break.
Chin up ... your chin must be up off of your chest enough to allow for a free-flowing shoulder turn under your chin. This allows your arms to be connected to your body but also be able to move independently or "sling" through the ball. Bifocal glasses are death to a golf swing. Buy some single vision glasses for your game and have someone else handle the scorecard or do the flipper thing.
Arms Hangle ... this is the "Monkey Arms" concept. When your arms hangle, they will naturally swing back and forth on both a predictable and consistent path. Where the handle of the club goes is where the club goes. You do not want your arms to be reaching out for the ball or to be too close to your body. The small muscle on the front of each shoulder joint (anterior head of the deltoid) MUST be relaxed and soft! Reaching is a direct cause of an outside-in swing path and pulled shots to the left. This is a CRITICAL ERROR that must be avoided through good technique. Having the hands too close to the body is a smaller error, but it too affects the natural movement of the arms and subsequent swing path.
Weight Balanced ... your center of gravity is located in the lower middle of your torso. To be in balance, this point must be directly over your shoe laces. Bad toe to heel balance forces you to compensate for unnatural
Role of the Parts ... two hands connect to one handle in a manner they perform different functions, but also act as a combined team. The function of the last three fingers on the top hand is to securely connect you to the club in a way that you do not lose the club when centrifugal force exerts about 30-50 pounds of pulling force against your hands. The top hand provides stability and strongly influences the speed at which the hands will release through the ball. Securely holding the club does NOT require much grip pressure. The index finger of the top hand and the pinky finger link the two hands into a single unit. There are three common ways to link the hands ... the ten finger, the interlocking and the overlapping or Vardon grip are each used by professional players. Each style has some advantages and some disadvantages. The first three fingers of the bottom hand are used to provide feel and act as levers during the release. The final piece of the puzzle is the role of the thumbs. Their first and most important function is to oppose the pressure on the bottom of the shaft with counter pressure on top of the shaft.
How high or low the grip is held relative to the palm or the fingers affects the speed of your release. The goal is to find the perfect balance between stability and control a multi-directional, loose, flippy floppiness. The grip should provide a semi-rigid articulation more than dish rag limp control. The exact position of the thumbs affect
Assembly of the Grip
Traditional Ideas vs. This Method's View of the Grip
Interrelationships Between Pre-Swing Fundamentals and Your Swing Motion
Posture is directly related to almost everything in the swing. Sitting out of balance, on your heels by bending the knees too deeply will lead to a weak, defensive swing through the ball. Reaching for the ball will tend to cause on outside to inside swing path and a pulled shot. Having your chin down in your chest will prevent your shoulders from freely turning which in turn tends to result in early wrist cocking which in turn leaves you flat footed or in a forward weighted position where you have no choice but to fall off the ball on the forward swing.
Body Alignment AND Ball Position are directly related to swing path. Aim in the wrong direction and the swing just might obey and follow. Play the ball too far forward of back or reach rather than hand and both the swing path and face will be off.
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