Finishing School

Look at the end of your swing to find and fix hidden flaws

Finishing SchoolHigh Finish
Basically, there are only two positions in the golf swing: the address and the finish. Everything else is a motion and, as such, difficult to analyze. But the finish is static and allows for serious self-analysis. If you know what to look for, then how you end your swing can give you some good ideas of what’s going on in your motion.

Let’s begin with two common finish positions: the high and the low finish. The high finish (see Chris DiMarco for an example) is characterized by high hands and a bit of a flying left elbow (for righties). Typically, the high finish is associated with pushes, push hooks and push fades, as well as thin shots and shots struck toward the heel. While finishing high isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the type of motion needed to create it can cause problems. High finishers tend to swing on a very inside-out path through impact, with the club traveling to the right of the target. Yes, inside out is the preferred path, but when taken to the extreme as evidenced by a high finish, control is minimized.

Why So High?
Developing an overly inside-out swing path is a fairly common mistake, particularly for better players. Accomplished players and other top-level golfers almost never move the club more than a degree or two inside to out, however. The key is to be fairly subtle with this move, not to grossly overdo it. When the inside-out move becomes severe, the most common shot error is a push. When the club comes too far from the inside with a closed clubface, the ball will hook, often badly. In addition, swinging the club too far from in to out will deliver the club below the swing plane, which often prevents the club from striking the ball on the desired, slightly descending path. Shots hit from this position don’t get compressed and often are thinned.

Low Finish
In contrast to the high finish, the low finish results from an overly outside-to-in swing path. Players who develop this swing path typically come over the top of the plane, causing the clubhead to cut across the ball through the impact zone. Divots resulting from this type of swing will run diagonal across the target line and will tend to be fairly deep. An overly outside-to-in swing path often is caused by a downswing motion that’s initiated by the arms instead of the body. When the arms outrace the body through the hitting zone instead of being dragged through, the club comes over the top of the plane and Lunge Finishgenerally comes into the hitting zone on a steep angle. Shots created by this type of move are pull slices (when the face is open through impact), pull hooks (when the face is closed through impact) and shots struck on the toe.
Why So Low?
Since the club is moving steeply and across the ball, none of these shots are typically well struck, and certainly don’t often fly at the intended target. Also, you’ll notice that the arms (photo, right) have a constricted, jammed look in the finish, with little freedom or extension. Because the arms have moved earlier than the body, their action tends to be impeded by the body, and have no choice but to bunch up in the finish (and also through impact).

Lunge Finish
Here’s a common one, thanks to the fact that it’s fueled by an equally common flaw. You know you’ve achieved the lunge finish when you feel that your head is in front of your left (or lead) leg at the end of the swing, or sense that you’re in danger of falling forward. If your shots are thinly struck, or travel unusually low, then you may be a lunger.

Lunging in the finish is fueled by a severe meltdown of the lower body through the hitting zone. Generally speaking, all’s well until the hips stop rotating through impact, causing the upper body (including the head) to get ahead of the ball. It’s a recipe for disaster that destroys one of the all-time great needs of a solid swing: staying behind the ball. Good golf swings are rotation-based, mandating a turn of both the upper and lower body through impact.


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