HOW TO PLAY GOLF

Chapter Three
The Body's Motion

 

During the back swing the body rotates (turns)from the top down starting with the shoulders, then the hips, the knees, the ankles and finally the feet. While the body is turning into the back swing position it’s also moving the center of the body toward the right (or left, for left handed golfers). This movement is called weight transfer. Before the rotational action of the downswing begins, the torso must start it's re-centering by a lateral move of the lower body called the transition. The re-centering motion accesses stored energy created by the back swing. The sequence of rotational movement for the downswing is feet, ankles, knees, hips and shoulders.

Your body will be trained through specific new golf exercises, both mental and physical, to produce the correct swing movement. Both sides of the body are of equal importance to the swing. The body side closest to the target creates a pushing motion during the back swing and a pulling motion during the forward swing. The side farthest from the target uses a pulling motion on the back swing and a pushing motion on the forward swing. Everyone has a strong and weak side, and both must be trained to pull and push in equal amounts. Imagine two children moving a red wagon by having the child in front pull and the child in the back push. The child in the back is older and stronger but can only push (right side) as hard as the younger child can pull (left side) or the wagon will run the smaller one over. The same principle is at work in the golf swing; the right side can only push as hard as the left can pull. Golf, like life, works on a binary system. Everything has two sides for Balance: left-right, front-back, up-down, pull-push, in-out, black-white, fast-slow, hard-soft, light-dark, fast-slow.

The Shoulders

The shoulders are part of the major muscle group responsible for creating stored energy. At address they should be positioned perpendicular to the spine, with the right shoulder slightly lower than the left - approximately the same distance that the right hand is below the left hand. Maintaining this "shoulder to spine angle" is an important part of maintaining the swing plane.
The Arms
The arms hang softly from the shoulders with the left arm touching the chest. This connects and creates a relationship between the arms and the body. There should be minor pressure between the arms, giving the golfer the sensation that they are moving toward each other. The coiling motion of the body during the back swing applies a force on the arms that pushes them apart; proper training of the muscles will help them resist this tendency to separate. If, however there is too much tension in the arms, the energy from the center will not be able to flow through them efficiently. The goal is to find the right degree of muscle tone to enable the arms to work as one unit while keeping the energy flowing.

The Hands

The hands move too quickly during the swing for a player to control them with any amount of accuracy, but the way the club is gripped is important. The swing's power comes from the centrifugal force generated by the inside (golfers body) moving to the outside (club head) and hands are levers that facilitate the transfer of energy. BUT - the hands are not the center of the golf swing - the body’s solar plexus region assumes that role. And it’s important to remember that the faster the center moves, the more power the club head will obtain. The hands will move exponentially faster as the center increases its speed.

Properly placed hands work together as one facilitating unit. The left hand (or right hand for lefties) grips the club with pressure felt in the last three fingers and most heavily on the pinkie. This keeps the butt of the club securely attached to the hand. The right hand (or bottom hand) grips the club with just the fingers. When correctly placed, the left thumb (top hand) will follow the life line of the right hand (bottom hand). Pressure is felt in the phalanges of the right hand’s two middle fingers (bottom hand) and the right palm rests against and over the left thumb (top hand). The palm of the right hand (bottom hand) faces the target. Correct finger tension takes practice. The amount of pressure changes depending on the type of shot your playing. For example: light grip pressure is used to allow more hand action, like in a bunker shot, but a firm grip is needed for hitting a punch shot.

"The club head, hands and shoulders must start in one motion, at no time should you make a conscious effort to set (cock) your wrists.
--Byron Nelson, 1946

The Hips

The hips are an important part of the rotational and lateral motion of the swing and should stay as level as possible. When the hips are coordinated with the shoulders they provide a valuable source of potential and kinetic energy.

"The Club head is kept low as it starts back from the ball by shifting the weight laterally from the left foot to the right foot."
--Byron Nelson, 1946

The Knees

When slightly bent, the knees lower the center of gravity and help keep the body’s lower half balanced and level. Bending the knees creates an angle behind the knee which must be maintained throughout the swing.

The Feet

The Feet are the body's connection to the ground , in coordination with the ankles, the feet will be trained to initiate the transition, the start of the downswing. The three main foot stance positions are: open, square and closed. The square stance is feet perpendicular and parallel to the body line. The open stance is created by moving the left foot away from the body line allowing the hips to face more toward the target. This stance restricts body coil, allowing a quicker buildup of tension in the back swing and is used primarily for control. The closed stance is just the opposite of the open stance, and is used for power. In the closed stance, the right foot is withdrawn from the line allowing the body to turn as much as possible. Students in the early stages of learning, are taught to keep feet parallel and perpendicular to the body line.

 

HOW TO PLAY GOLF.

Chapter Four

"Success has eluded many golfers of mechanical excellence simply because they either did not realize the importance of concentration or had been unable to develop this power "

--Byron Nelson, WInning Golf, 1946

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