Swing Thoughts That Really Work

Think your way to a better golf swing now

At The Top I encourage my students to feel athletic and balanced at the top of the swing. An important point to remember is that the backswing is designed to set up a powerful and consistent attack into impact. When you think of squatting (butt toward the ground), allow your knees to pivot with your hips as you rotate your way to the top.

A telltale sign of a strong, squatted pivot away from the ball is the backside being close to the ground and pointing at the target (see photo at right). When tension (stiff legs, rigid muscles are evidence) is present, the body becomes weak, powerless and off-balance. Once the thoughts turn to squatting correctly in the backswing, the entire swing becomes significantly more powerful because you’re able to use the ground to push against for maximum leverage. Remember, the top of the swing should feel “heavy and ready,” not “light and tight.” 

A proper transition occurs when the body drags the hands and club into the downswing. Casting and a loss of power occur when the club moves first.

In a body-driven downswing, the club drops to the inside and is powered by the turning of the body and soft, relaxed arms that lack tension. 

Transition The key thought for a good transition is “body leading arms,” and not vice versa. A common misconception is that the club should stay in front of the body during the swing. While this is true on the backswing, it’s totally incorrect on the way down. In the photo at left, the body is getting ahead of the arms and club on the downswing by moving first—it’s the engine that’s driving the entire move. This drops the arms, hands and club down without losing any angle between the clubshaft and left arm. If the sequence is incorrect and the club moves first, the body is taken out of its leadership role and the club is cast or thrown from the top.

This leads to a huge loss in power and control over the club’s path into impact. Remember, you want the club to be trailing the body up to and past impact. Leave it back in the transition and you’ll keep the proper sequence solidly intact. From this angle you can clearly see how the arms and club are left back in a somewhat passive manner as the pivot of the body forces them down from the top of the swing. The thought should be “turn and drag,” not “hit.” Notice how my body remains ahead of the arms and club late into the downswing. It’s unnecessary to help the club catch up with my wrists and hands, as that would only create scooping and flipping through impact. Instead, the rotation of my hips pulls the left leg straight, creating a “post” to hit against. Once the arms, hands and club can’t be dragged any farther, they will release through impact naturally and explosively, as none of the stored energy on the downswing was wasted by “hitting at” the ball.

Rubber Hose Old School
Swing A Rubber Hose
This is a good thought for the start of the downswing because a steady acceleration of the club on the downswing produces a more consistent swing path and facilitates solid impact.

In contrast, grabbing or snatching the club from the top in an attempt to “hit at” the ball almost always leads to inconsistent ballstriking. Remember to “drag” the club from the top, and your tempo will improve as well.

The thought at impact should be to squeeze the ball on the clubface as long as possible. This is how good players create compression and power. The relationship between the hands, wrists and club should remain structured and constant through impact—drag the club, don’t flip at the ball.

Without a doubt, the worst swing thought recreational golfers have is to “hit at” the ball. The desire to “hit at” initiates the use of the hands during the downswing, breaking down the proper sequence of “body first, club and arms second.”

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