Sunday, May 9, 2004
A good golf swing begins from the ground up
1. During the transition from backswing to downswing, weight is transferred from the back foot to the front foot, and the hips move slightly toward the target.
2. About midway through the downswing, there’s a slight downward movement of the knees. This places weight and pressure into the ground. At this point, the golfer is using the ground as a lever on which to push up. The greater the push into the ground, the greater the clubhead speed. To help grasp this concept, think of a sprinter about to take off at a race. When the gun fires, the sprinter pushes off the sprinter’s block, thus propelling him forward. This same principle is applied to the golf swing by using the ground as your “block” and pushing against it for added power through the downswing. It’s also what Byron Nelson meant by “flexing the shaft with the lower body” and using the ground as a lever.
3. The hips shouldn’t begin turning until the club is waist high in the downswing. Once they do turn, weight transfers over to the front foot. The hips open up at impact, and as this occurs, weight moves over the outside of the left heel. At this position, your lower body has begun releasing energy toward the target and the upper body is about to release. As you can see, it’s the lower body that enables the upper body to do the work!
4. At impact, the hands, arms and upper torso catch up to the lower body, releasing all the stored torque and power that was “wound up” during the backswing. Due to the leverage created by your lower body and the ground, your upper body is now moving so fast that it outpaces the lower body and out-rotates the hips by 45 degrees at the finish position. Presto! The golf swing is complete!
As I mentioned, 75 percent of the body weight is transferred to the back foot during the backswing. Through the downswing and finish, the weight transfers from the back foot to the front foot. Too often, amateurs force this shift in weight by sliding and swaying from side to side during the backswing and downswing. This is not necessary! With correct footwork, you should automatically make the correct amount of weight shift.
Many golfers try to shift their weight to the right heel on the backswing and to the outside of the left foot on the downswing. This is wrong! Yes, weight should move to the right heel on the backswing, but during the transition, it should move to the left toe. Only through impact should weight shift to the left heel. This pattern—as well as several faulty renditions—were identified using a force platform by Dr. Michael Thompson of Delta State University.
To get a feel for using your legs and correctly shifting your weight during your swing, try the following drills.
Practice with your right leg butting against an object to get a solid feel for bracing your right side. In this case, we’re using a bench. As you simulate your backswing, you should feel your knee pressing firmly against the bench, creating torque and building energy. If your right knee isn’t touching the bench during the backswing, it means you’re not shifting your weight correctly to the right side. Keep making practice swings until you feel consistent pressure between your knee and the bench.
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