A feeling of being trapped, nowhere to go

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And this is what I mean when I refer to the fault of getting ‘ahead of the ball’ ( left). The tendency to activate the upper body too early in the downswing (to lurch forward with the right shoulder) creates the situation where the arms become trapped, the downswing is too narrow and the club-head actually slows down at precisely the time it should be accelerating towards impact. The problem here is that the swing has become congested, which makes it virtually impossible to extend the arms and enjoy any sensation of speed through impact – hence the bent left arm you see in the through-swing, known as the chicken-wing’, which typifies this cramped and powerless type of action.

A good impact position is clearly the result of a series of related good moves that precede it. Having established a good set-up position, with the ball opposite the inside of the left heel, weight 60:40 in favour of the right side, and the upper spine angled gently away from the target, I have been able to get fully behind the ball in the backswing – loaded up and coiled with power. The secret to then delivering that power effectively lies in the sequence from the top, the lower body supporting the change in momentum as I reverse the gears and begin to unwind from the ground up – but without driving excessively toward the target.

That’s key. The lower body stabilises the transition and the arms simply drop the club into a good hitting position. With my focus on keeping my head behind the ball (and my eyes are fixed on the back of the ball until the moment it’s hit) I then have the freedom to accelerate the arms, hands and club-head through to the target, and enjoy a sensation of ‘collecting’ the ball through impact. You don’t ever want to feel that you hit ‘at’ the ball; free-wheel the club-head and simply let the ball get in the way as you rotate and swing to a finish.

Swing Thought of the Day

You have to control the timing of your transition by starting your downswing before the backswing finishes.

What you absolutely have to make sure of is that your arms do not carry on moving behind you after your body stops turning. You lose power and end up in a bad position and trapped. You’ve over-swung.

The only way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to initiate the move down whilst you are still moving back. Two really important things happen when you do this:

  • You increase the centrifugal force which helps you build lag.
  • Because a lot of effort is required change the direction of the club (rather than just letting it bounce off you because it can’t go any further) you engage your lower body and pull more with your left side. Your sequencing is much better, you create much more club head speed and the ball goes much further.

There’s one other really important ingredient; you must have ‘loose’ arms and wrists. Too much tension will make it more difficult to transition smoothly.

You need to know when it’s the right time to start your downswing and what I am working on currently is using my left shoulder as my downswing ‘trigger’. So, as soon as my left shoulder gets under my chin – and my left arm is roughly at 9pm – I start my downswing by pulling with my left side.