Many golfers watch the pros play on TV, and are stunned by how far they launch the golf ball. They notice the amazing speed of the golf club as it is moves through the ball and strikes it with a tremendous force. This leads the amateur golfer to go to the range and commit two main errors in their efforts to hit the ball far like the pros:
1) They think they need to take the club back quickly in order to get it to come through quickly.
2) In trying to hit it as far as possible, they try to wind up and gather power with their arms, taking them as far back and around as possible.
These errors lead to:
*Disconnection + Swing Breakdown* *Failure to use big muscles of the body properly*
The Body Initiates the Backswing
A concerted effort needs to be made to wind up with the torso rather than the arms, because the golf club weighs so little it tempts us to snatch it back with our puny little hands and arms. To use the body properly, the core needs to be engaged and ready from the beginning, so that it starts the club back. This entails having the stomach muscles a bit contracted at set up, as if someone were about to punch you, ready for action.
To remedy the problem of snatching the club back quickly, we need to simulate a move in which we are taking back something heavier than a golf club. The analogy I often use with my students is to pretend you are a manual laborer hoisting 50 lb. bags of flour onto a truck bed. If I tried to swing that bag of flour back with just my arms in order to build momentum to throw it onto truck, I will either drop the bag or not come close to getting it up on the truck. I need to get my center of gravity beneath that sack of flour and use my belly to build the necessary energy and strength back and through to get it to fly up on the truck. It needs to be supported by my core muscles, just as my golf swing.
Limited Arm Backswing:
Less skilled players always try to use the arms too much on the backswing, bending and breaking them all over the place, disconnecting them from the body. This leads to a dissipation of power and an unsolid strike of the ball. Once you learn to initiate the backswing with the body, you won’t feel the need to take them back quite as far, as your body will now be coiled properly with your back facing the target. However, your arms will probably still be too scrunchy and behind you, rather than extended, and in front of you with your hands up high and arms taut – feeling like you’ve only made a 1/2 to 3/4 arm swing. I liken this to the structure that a ballroom dancer has, as they don’t let anyone into their space, arms firm and creating a structured boundary.
Free Not Loose
Some of the excess arm swinging on the backswing is a reflection of people thinking they need to be loosey goosey in order to be relaxed and hit it hard. However, the pros are never loose and noodle-like, but rather are free and purposeful. You want to be relaxed, but swing with defined structure. I liken this body sensation to that of a boxer in the ring, as he throws powerful, controlled punches with muscles engaged, dancing around lightly on his feet, bobbing and weaving. He is relaxed and free, yet has defined, contained movement. He is not wispy and jello-like, for if he were he would go down pretty quick. Likewise, in our backwings we want some pressure and tightness in the right places (right inner thigh, right lat, last three fingers of left hand, left underarm/upper left tricep), and yet a freedom to coil up and release the club with speed on the way through.
- – - When in time you learn to put it all together through the trial and error of your practice, you will see improved golf shots that are more consistent, accurate, and longer. When one becomes a better player, they learn how to swing more efficiently and use their big muscles properly so they don’t have to work as hard. They use all their parts more effectively, leading to more easily repetitive and dynamic moves. You too can get rid of the power drains in your swing, and harness your true power to unleash onto the ball! – - -