A feeling of being trapped, nowhere to go

launch_control_6

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.

Keeping the head behind the ball

“During the downswing, there is a significant amount of force being applied in the forward direction.

To maintain balance and posture, it is necessary to keep the head still and behind the ball at impact.

“Chin it; chin it,” I tell my students. I am attempting to have my student’s chin point at a spot several inches behind the ball until well after contact with the ball.

In this way, I am insuring that the student holds his/her head still and behind the ball during the downswing. A Picard student can usually be identified by the excellent head position during the downswing.

“Chinning it” becomes a way of life for most students.

It is my belief that the head rises slightly during the downswing to apply maximum power at impact.

The head moving slightly up and back results in excellent posture at impact.”

HG Picard

Keep chin behind ball at impact

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Narrow stance… Again.

Narrowed my stance again today and my ball striking immediately improved. I hit some of the most flush iron shots I’ve ever hit; ball flying off the face and nice divots. I never get divots usually.

When I say narrow, I mean noticeably narrow – well within shoulder width. It almost feels too narrow. Ball position is middle of my stance and I need to focus on keeping my head steady – it’s virtually impossible not to have a descending blow with this set up  and there isn’t any time to flip!

That’s it, no other swing thoughts.

Narrow Your Stance at Address

As an aside, I was driving the ball quite well today. Not going to win any long drive competitions but was playing for a gentle fade and finding the fairway more often than not.

long-driving-in-golf

My two plane golf swing

Latest lesson in my golf education; understanding the widely held belief that there are two main swings, one-plane and two-plane.

Very simply, one-plane means that the arms and shoulders swing on the same plane, two-plane means that the arms and shoulders swing on two different planes.

Left is one-plane, right is two-plane:

swing-planes

I have been reading a book called ‘The Plane Truth…’ by Jim Hardy and it’s been a real eye-opener because (a) it’s made me realise that there is more than just one ‘textbook’ way to swing a club and (b) I can’t try and copy every great swing I see and not every swing tip will be applicable to my natural swing tendency. The point is, you have to work what YOUR swing is (or you want it to be) and build your movements and practice around that. You get into trouble when you mix one and two plane principles; i.e. you set up for a one-plane swing but actually swing on two-plane.

I know I am a natural two-plane swinger, which is a shame because it is regarded as more complicated, difficult to repeat and dependent on timing and rhythm! I just can’t get comfortable with the one-swing movements so I will have to embrace what I’ve got and at least now I know what I should (and shouldn’t) be working.

Here are some of the key characteristics of a two-plane swing, and why I think it is my swing type:

Grip is neutral to weak, 1-2 knuckles of left hand visible maximum – I have worked to strengthen my grip recently, because it was neutral to weak before but I’ll ease up on that now.

Stance is narrow (inside shoulder width) – I commented in a previous post about how I struck the ball better with a narrower stance! Discovered totally by accident, but I now know is because I am a two-plane swinger and this is a key characteristic of one. Not as much weight shift, so doesn’t need to be wide.

Ball position – no real change here to what I was doing but I might need to stand slightly closer to the ball. Hands directly under chin at address.

Posture – I’ve probably had too much tilt and knee flex. Going to adopt a slightly more upright posture.

Weight distribution – this is an interesting one; should have 60% of weight on right side at address. All the common advice is weight centred or favouring left.

Backswing – shoulders stay quite level and you turn away from the ball whilst simultaneously lifing the arms. They have to move at same speed. This is why the two-plane swing can get difficult, timing is very important.

It’s OK to move slightly to the right as you move weight in the backswing, it’s beneficial because it creates a bit of much needed width. If your weight is too centred or on the left at top of backswing the swing is too narrow.

Both arms need to stay as straight as possible in the takeaway – again it adds a bit of width.

It’s even OK to be across the line slightly at the top! I’ve spent hours trying to sort this out, but Hardy considers it acceptable in a two-plane swing.

Donwnswing – shoulders must stay passive. So difficult for me, I find it so hard to stop using my shoulders first! The arms must move down first, not out – the swing shape is actually a kind of V; back over right shoulder, down to impact, back over left.

Weight does shift to left side on downswing but it is very subtle, maybe 60% on front foot at impact. Not 80-100% as typically suggested.

Shoulders are square at impact, don’t let your spine angle change and don’t let the right shoulder dip.

A couple of good videos on the subject:

More on golf swing weight shift

For next time I am at the range…

Move weight to right foot with a good, full turn.

Don’t make any conscious effort to shift weight back to the left, just let it happen automatically. Keep arms and hands supple.

Other things I’m thinking: does amount of weight shift right relate directly to club length i.e. no shift with wedges/ 9 iron, little bit with 8 iron, bit more with 7 and so on. Most shift with driver.

Good article.

 

 

Weight shift in the golf swing

I can’t believe that something as fundamental as weight shift has been holding me back.

It’s not so much that I have overlooked it, I think it’s more to do with the fact that I picked up very early on a belief that it’s wrong to move your head in the swing, I was desperate not to sway and later when I was so focused on hitting down on the ball and taking a divot I got very stationary.

My lower body has been hardly moving. I have ingrained a very centered swing, too centered in fact, and what I have learned recently is that you must shift your weight to the right to be able to shift your weight to the left. I couldn’t understand why I struggled so much to get my weight forward at impact, and why I kept having a tendency to be falling back at impact and flipping (not all the time, but it happened when I was under pressure and trying too hard not to shift too far away from the ball in the backswing!).

I stumbled across this by accident really – after a particularly frustrating session at the range, I just started playing about with things (funny how you can work things out when you just start experimenting) and I was taking very baseball-like swings; loading up excessively on my right side and pushing aggressively to my left in the downswing and swinging as hard as I could. I started nailing it and realised I was on to something.

After much Google and YouTube validation, it was clear I had been neglecting one of, if not THE, absolute fundamentals of the golf swing – you must use your lower body. You must shift weight. Stop being paranoid about moving your head and swaying and get the big muscles of your body moving.

I went to the range today and concentrated solely on transferring my weight effectively and whilst I’m going to need a lot more reps before it is fully ingrained, when I did get it right today I hit it better and longer than I ever have done.

So my advice to you is this. Weight shift is one of those elements of the swing you can just take for granted, assume you are doing it OK, or under-estimate it’s importance. Don’t make my mistake, do some research and get some practice in and start feeling how fluid and flowing the golf swing should actually be.

Here’s a few links to some good articles to get you started:

Getting off the back foot

Push off for more power

Keep your head still and you will keep slicing the ball