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All shotmaking in this conceptual system begins with being in a perfect top of the backswing position and slinging through to a predetermined, shoulder high followthru position. This concept first implies there is a correct or best top of the backswing position for EVERY golfer. This does not mean there is only one position for everyone to copy. It means there is a best position for each golfer AND there are checkpoints of correct performance, for that position for each golfer.
This is important for both learning and performance! This may be obvious, but learning precedes performance. To learn, you must have a clear mental picture of what you are trying to accomplish. The idea behind shotmaking is to do one thing exactly the same way ... same stinking thing, same stinking way, every stinking time. From that starting point, other things can be done. The first thing is the development of your basic shot. It doesn't have to be a perfectly straight shot. In fact, a straight ball is nearly impossible to command and execute. A reliable fade or draw as your "go to" shot is much easier and strategically better. From your basic shot, you can learn to make your opposite shot. The idea is to master the essential and to change as little as possible in the swing motion for the opposite shot. Shotmaking then becomes a matter adapting pre-swing fundamentals and having only a very slightly different swing target.
Regarding your swing target, I believe there are actually two targets. The commonly held target is a vision of where you want the ball to finish. This is an absolutely essential concept for shot planning. You MUST have a clear picture of your final target. To get the ball on the target is the problem. You have to train your muscles to do the things that will control the club which do the physics to the ball. To do this, you need a "position picture" which becomes the target your body and arm will try to hit. A target picture is a pipe dream without a practice/movement picture.
The single most important checkpoint for every golfer is to have a flat left wrist at the top. If the wrist is cupped or layed off, the clubface will not be square at impact. It is a pity this point of performance has been so poorly taught by golf professionals FOREVER! Additionally, the swing path will be affected. Your body build will be the primary factor determining what the best starting position for your best swing will be. A layed off position has always been taught to be an open position. True! A cupped position has always been taught to also be an open position. Uh oh! What gives? Can both positions both be open when they are mechanically opposite of each other? Common sense says ... this is impossible!
But wait! There's more bad news. A cupped or closed position creates an upright swingplane. A pro can handle this, a recreational player typically moves over the top, passing through impact on an outside to inside swingpath. The clubhead may stay open resulting in a banana slice or it my square or close resulting in a straight pull or the second most dreaded shot in golf (an outright shank is #1), a duck hook. A layed off position may be even worse! With this position the movement into impact comes from a overly inside-outside swingpath. This move is sometimes called "getting stuck" inside the line. The clubface never has a chance to square up, resulting into a push-slice.
You cannot get to the high followthru position without first passing through these intermediate positions
If you start wrong, you will have to work (the dreaded "try" word) to finish right ... natural and easy goes out the window
Where you focus your attention largely depends upon your skill level. Beginners should focus more on a whole, shoulder to shoulder sling as explained in the rest of this website. As your skill develops, you can …
Change your focus on the quality of your waist high or early followthru position. The waist high followthru is mostly a modification of the shoulder high position, but it may be a more psychologically comfortable way to think about the swing motion for those who are “target oriented”. This website generally advocates for allowing a fully mastered sling motion to combine with pre-swing adjustments to create shotmaking opportunity.
A focus on the early followthru position can be of value to players who are “smoothing out” their timing by practicing/developing a straight line alignment between the center of the chest, the center of the grip and the clubhead shortly after the ball has left the clubface. This focus would also help players who desire to work on “swingng through the ball”
A focus on your pre-impact position is generally of little cognitive/learning value EXCEPT as developed subconsciously through the use of drills. Drills teach feel. By incorporating this position in a "mini" swing drill, you can move from a correct position to a correct subsequent position (see the page on Shaping your swing, a technique for intermediate skilled players)
A focus on your impact position has been both over taught and under taught. It has been thought you cannot control your impact position because the time it takes for nerve conduction to move from the hands to the brain and back down to a muscle which might “tweek” the movement/position if far too short.
For less skilled players, there are bigger fish to fry! Focus on the larger swing.
For more skilled players, it may be worth the effort to concentrate on the quality of your impact ... only AFTER the whole sling motion has been mastered. Upon further review, there may be some ability to make even last second adjustments to the swing. Recent research in motor learning science indicates M2, triggered reactions and reaction-time responses (all long latency reflex responses in the 50-120 msec range) have some ability to respond to instruction/learned motor control (yeah, muscle memory) ... which means a low level of learning can be accomplished.
A good technique for learning to work the ball is to learn to Connect the Dots. When a green dot slightly outside the sweetspot contacts a corresponding dot on the back of the ball, the ball will draw. When the blue dot connects with it's blue dot, the ball fades. This is learned through practice and only AFTER the sling motion is overlearned/mastered. It is an advanced skill technique!
Shaping the Shot for Direction
Directional control of your ball flight for shotmaking, for the fundamentally sound player is a matter of systematically adjusting your preswing fundamentals, getting to your regular top of the backswing position and swinging thru to your desired target for the shot shape. The backswing does not change regardless of how you wish to shape the shot. Working the ball in either direction starts from one, consistent top of the backswing position.
Think of your shoulder high followthru position as being aimed at one of three target zones ... on plane (10:30-11 o'clock), high (11-11:30) pr low (10-10:30). These target zones combined with preswing alignment and ball position will cause the ball to curve in a predictable manner.
Golf is a game of paradoxical opposites. To curve the ball to the left, you aim your shoulders to the right, play the ball slightly back in your stance and swing the handle low and left. To curve the ball to the right, aim your shoulders to the left, move the ball slightly forward and swing the handle high and right. Again, all forward swings start for a common top of the backswing position. Shotmaking will be completely inconsistent unless you are capable of putting the club in the same top of the backswing position, every time ... do the same stinking thing, the same stinking way, every stinking time!
"Swinging thru the ball" is a complex concept. This series of images present several import concepts about what should happen during a free flowing release. The Upper left image shows the depth of Tiger's late release/lag. Few amateur golfers will ever com close to this position. Fortunately you do not have to hold this long to hit powerful and well controlled shots. The top center image illustrates the concept of releasing the handle with a revolution of the forearms motion, NOT a rolling of the wrists. When your thumbs stay on top of the shaft, the relationship between the radius (thumb bone) and the ulna (pinky bone) remains in a neutral state. There is not pronation or supination. The forearm bones remain "stacked" one on top of the other in the same square alignment they were in at address. This relationship remains completely through your release into impact, early followthru and on to middle followthru when the handle reaches waist high.
There is no need to "hit" with the hands to fully release the club. Centrifugal force will do the work NATURALLY. This said, it is also important to know the right arm assumes control of the swing in the early followthru. The two lower right hand images shows the movement of the handle "thru the ball". The top hand reaches a position opposite the ball BEFORE the bottom of the handle. It is nearly impossible to see, but the top hand stops moving forward for a fraction of a second. There no forward movement of the top hand until the bottom hand "catches up". Once the bottom hand reaches its impact position, both hands continue to move forward, through the ball. The top hand applies an opposing force to the bottom hand, creating another acceleration to the club. This is a natural event requiring no conscious thought. While you need not try to make these movements happen it is worth some practice time to make sure it does in fact work as Mother Nature designed it to work. You will benefit from taking the time to learn to feel the motion of the bottom hand.
The left hand image shows a more realistic lag position for a skilled amateur player. The middle left image shows an old teaching concept ... the back of the top hand and the clubface face the target. A minor change would be visualize/feel the palm of the bottom hand and the face of the club are squarely facing the target. The concept of the forearms revolving rather than the wrists rolling is critical to good timing. Never swing the club harder than your ability to feel the movement and position of the handle. The right hand image shows how the right hand assumes control of the swing arc into impact and thru into the early and middle followthru.
These two images present the concept of controlling the position of your thumbs through the middle and late followthru position. When the club reaches waist high or the middle of the followthru, your thumbs should be on top of the shaft. This is a critical point for analysis of the shot. If your thumbs are on top of the shaft, and the shaft is pointed at the target, the ball will be flying straight. Think in terms of three target zones (which can be used in practice) ... 1:30 - 0:30 o'clock (from the player's perspective) is the "Hold" zone where the clubface will be slightly open at impact. The ball will curve to the right. The 0:30 - 11:30 o'clock area is the "Online" zone where the ball will be flying nearly straight for a normal shot. The 11:30 - 10:30 area is the "Roll" zone. Slinging your thumbs into either the Hold or the Roll zone is either a mistake or a technique for working the ball. You can also practice your feel and visualization for the position of your thumbs at the shoulder high, late followthru position. Again, think of three zones ... high, online and low. Think of a target for your thumbs. A high target (11 -11:30 o'clock) combined with a slightly open stance alignment and forward ball position will curve the ball to the right. An online target (10:30 - 11 o'clock") with a square alignment and normal ball position will cause a straight shot. A low target (10 - 10:30) with a closed stance and back ball position will produce a draw. Obviously you must be fundamentally sound and know your best alignment and ball position for a straight shot.
Learning to hit the ball with a generally straight shot shape (< 5 yds curve) is a fundamental skill. This is accomplished with square alignment and neutral ball position preswing fundamentals, combined with a free flowing swing motion. Aiming your body is essentially a matter of dividing the fairway or green target in 1/3s then allowing your swing motion to fly freely where your body wants it to go. On a normal, generally straight shot, your swing motion will carry your hands into the middle zone.
Oh, then there is the matter of practicing enough to trust the technique.
Controlling Trajectory and Spin
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