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General Description of the Transition…

                                  Backswing                                Transition                                   Foreswing                               

In this 3 X 3 X 3 instruction scheme (3 backswing movements, 3 transition movements and 3 Foreswing movements), the first move of the transition (center, yellow section of the graphic) is the cocking of the wrists to reach the top of the backswing.  Cocking CAUSES a very small “bump” and initial rotation of the left hip which RE-CENTERS your point of balance from your back foot forward, onto both feet.  This bump movement DOES NOT originate in the lower legs.  There is little muscular activity and the movement is nothing more than a slight forward shifting of the hips caused by the hands moving upwards and then forward to re-center your weight; the total movement distance is less than 4”.  In a nearly simultaneous manner the shoulders follow the hips and the right elbow drops almost straight downward (and slightly forward), near the point of the back hip.  A small rotation of the hips immediately follows this weight transfer; the hips begin to unwind fractionally ahead of the shoulders

In the forward swing, the shoulders turn further and faster than the hips, pulling the arms and club downward, forward and outward towards the ball; inertia is a golfer’s best friend in that it stabilizes the motion … the key is to begin the motion for a correct starting position.  Weight transfers slowly and naturally as a result of cocking the wrists to complete the movement to the top of the traditional top of the backswing position!

Cocking to the Top of the Swing …

From a correct upswing position where the handle of the club and the shaft point towards the sky and behind the player, the transition begins with a deliberate cocking of the wrists to lay the club across your back.  At the 3/4 upswing position, a player should have no more than 45° of radial flexion between the left forearm and the shaft of the club.  The upper left arm will be tight or “connected” with the chest and the whole arm will be pointed backwards.  The shaft should be less than vertical to the ground. 

The wrist will begin to cock or radially flex, moving the shaft towards the forearms.  As the wrists cock, momentum from the backswing will cause the arms to continue to rise up to the level of the natural flexibility of any given player.  The exact height of the arm rise will vary considerably from one player to the next relative to their body build and upper body and arm flexibility.

When the arms reach the limit of their upswing and the thumbs have fully cocked, laying the shaft across the shoulders, there are six checkpoints of correct performance …  1. weight transferred to the inside of the back foot  2. shoulder fully turned so the back faces the target  3. left arm across the chest  4. right elbow down, right forearm close to vertical  5. flat left wrist and   6. fully connected grip.  The guiding rule for how high the hands should rise is … a shorter correct swing is always better than a long and wrong swing.  The key, controlling checkpoints are to have a connected grip and a combine flat left wrist/vertical right forearm.

The left hand image illustrates three concepts … turning behind the ball (green line), keeping your swing between your feet (red lines) and stretching the back and shoulder muscles of the left side.    It is easy to see how from this position the modern “big muscle” swing works.  The modern, bio-mechanically efficient swing motion is an inside to outside, kinetically linked transfer of momentum system.  The correct sequencing of the downswing (hips, shoulders, arms, shaft, clubhead) is only possible from this position.  The transition phases of the swing consists cocking the wrists to complete the backswing, a small bump and rotation of the hips, and a dropping of the right arm to the side

The middle image illustrates the concept of delayed wrist cock, a point of performance critical to getting extension and weight transfer.  Note the continued weight transfer onto the back foot.  The L arm should be parallel to the ground before any significant wrist cock occurs.  The right hand illustration illustrates how people of different body types and degrees of flexibility will have different top of the backswing positions/lengths to the backswing.  When the hands are high, the elbow tends to fly.  Skilled players can manage this position.  Recreational players are better served with a flatter swing plane (red line across the chest) and keeping the right forearm more vertical.  The gap between the side of the chest and the upper arm should be as narrow as possible.  When this is accomplished, you are “turning tight”.  The position of the handle of the club offers another checkpoint.  The handle should be back or  behind a vertical line extended up through the shoulder joint.  This is accomplished with a flatter swing plane and tight gap.  Please note how as the arms continue rise while the wrists cock, there is a slight shifting of the whole body to a more centrally balanced position (R image, blue background to grey foreground image).  This tiny move gets you into a perfectly balanced position BEHIND the ball.  It leads into the bump and turn which initiates the downswing part of the transition.  It is such a small, unhurried move, most people and teachers don’t even know it is being done.

Bump and Drop

The general movement of the transition can be described as a simple bump and drop.  After the backswing is complete to the satisfaction of traditional definitions, two nearly simultaneous moves occur.  The hips "bump" forward just enough to shift your weight onto your front foot.  THIS IS NOT A DRIVING OF THE KNEES characteristic of the late 60's, 60's and early 70's styles which produced the Reverse C.  The role of the legs is to support the movement of the body and arms.  The term lower body should apply to the movement of the hips, not the knees.  Note how in the right hand illustration, the gap between the vertical lines in the left two images narrows.  There isn't much forward movement to this change in position.  The hips have a small rotation back to a square position.  The shoulder also have a small turn.   These are NOT the big turns made during the release motion. Also note the change in position of the right elbow changes in the same image.  The elbow drops nearly straight down to a position near the hip.  The hips move first and the elbow moves second.  The movements are so closely tied, you can consider them to be one move.   Note how the chin stays at about the same level and how the shoulders and spine "Tilt the T".  The tilting would be much more severe is the legs had driven forward.

The hands continue to drop, moving the elbow still closer to the right hip.  Somewhere between the middle and right hand images, the power of the big hip and shoulder turns and release of the hands begin.  The exact release point is different for every golfer.  Your release point will be determined by your body shape, wrist strength and skill.  The primary skill of the transition is to accelerate the motion.  The transition is a continuation of the Slooow backswing.  A smooth transition is easier from a delayed wrist cock and automatic recentering movement.  This removes most of the jerkiness of the movement of the forward weight transfer as the torso turns and the arms drop.  How do you swing through the ball if you don't first get behind the ball.  Notice how the distance between the swing center and the left foot narrows automatically when the arms drop down to the release position.  Another important thing also occurs with little learning or effort.  First the hips lead the the shoulders and the arms.  As your weight begins to move from it's most backwards point before the wrist cocking begins, your hips will move forward and begin a nearly imperceptible rotation, beginning to square up to the target line.  This is NOT something you have to learn or try to do ... it is a natural function of your anatomical structure.  The key point is the SEQUENCING of these small movements ... hips, shoulders and arms.  The handle of the club drops nearly straight down, lagging behind the rotation of the other movements.  As the handle of the club drops, the hips and shoulders continue to lead.


Cock … 1st Move of the transition/ correct position at the top

What to Think

What to Do

What NOT to Do

What to Feel

  Tight turn

 Cock your thumbs over your shoulder, left wrist should be flat, not cupped or layed off

Roll your wrists at takeaway, dip you left knee or TRY for an artificially high/long backswing

 Left arm across your chest, right elbow points down, connected grip, complete weight transfer onto back foot, shoulder turned behind the ball

The "Windup" stretches the larger muscles of the back and hip, tightening the rubber band effect

Left arm lays across the chest, shoulders turn as far as possible w/out losing the grip or flying the elbow

Losing your grip at the top is a killer mistake you must train yourself to avoid at all costs ... the origin of the problem is in your posture, not your swing motion!

Cupping the left wrist is a critical, but unnoticed error probably because so many pros do it.  Recreational players have neither the coordination or the practice time to control this mistake.