Is Your Swing Out Of Date?

In with the new. The swings of today?s top young golfers are vastly more efficient than those used by yesterday's heroes, which begs the question

Travino Another important aspect of the modern setup is the angle of the upper body and head. Basically, you want to feel that your chest is over the ball, not straight up and down. To set this position, forget about keeping your chin up, and set your eyes and chest directly at the ball. In addition, be sure to avoid bending your head and neck toward your right shoulder.  Although this feels like a natural move, allowing your right ear to get close to your right shoulder will promote a hang-back in the downswing. Instead, concentrate on a neutral head position,  or one that slightly favors your left shoulder.

 In the past, many of the world’s best players, like Lee Trevino, utilized a setup position featuring a head that pointed well behind the ball (notice where the brim of Trevino’s cap is pointing) and a significant degree of spine tilt, with the right shoulder well below the left. In addition, the old setup tended to place more weight in the heels. All of these elements combined to promote a Topless-balanced position that often led to a reverse weight shift. Although Trevino is hitting a driver in the photo above, his right shoulder is still significantly lower than that of the modern swinger.

Many old-style swingers, like the late Payne Stewart, locked their right knee at the top of the swing and took the club well past parallel. Although this often gave the swing a long, flowing look, it required extraneous movement that made it difficult to manage for those who lacked world-class talent. Many amateurs take this a step further and allow their right hip to move laterally during the backswing while locking the rear leg, creating a nasty reverse pivot as illustrated in the picture at the bottom of the page (in red). In contrast, notice how Ben’s right knee remains flexed, his right hip and shoulder are rotated away from the ball with no lateral movement, which maintains the space between his knees. Unlike the old-style top that requires compensations in the transition, the modern position is ready to go.

Stewart To learn the sensation of a proper pivot on the backswing, flex your knees and place the palms of each hand on each knee. Keep your back straight and your head in a relatively neutral position. Then simply rotate your right hip pocket in a clockwise direction while maintaining your hand-knee connection. Turn, don’t sway.

Ben’s extremely compact and dynamic position at the top illustrates how athletic the golf swing can be. Many players in the past lifted the front heel, locked the back leg and swung the club past parallel. Conversely, the modern position at the top is strong, simple and without any slack.

During the takeaway and move to the top of the swing, the body should feel connected and synchronized. Keep your hands on your knees and turn back instead of swaying to help ingrain this feel.

To help instill the feeling of a proper transition and delivery position, try the following drill. Place your golf bag behind your rear end and assume your setup position. The bag should be just behind you, but not touching your body. At the top of the swing, the right portion of your butt should come into contact with the bag, and as you turn into delivery and impact, the left portion should immediately make contact, and maintain that contact through impact. Be sure to move your head along with your body, and rotate your hips instead of sliding them. The key here is to maintain the same distance from the ball all the way through the swing. If you do get closer to the ball, your arms won’t have room to extend.
Irwin Notice how Ben’s left shoulder is closer to the target than is his left hip while his head is straight up and down over the ball. There’s no hang-back here, but rather a free-flowing rotation into the hitting zone. Remember, there’s a lot of power in the right side of your body—don’t leave it stuck behind the ball.

The old delivery style, as demonstrated by a young Hale Irwin to the right, featured a sliding of the knees and hips in a lateral direction, with the upper body and head stuck behind the ball. As a result, a lot of players like Irwin tended to hit high shots that hung in the air and didn’t have much penetration. A significant reason for this relatively weak position approaching impact was the old theory of keeping the head behind the ball. In contrast, note Ben’s stacked position approaching impact, with his upper body directly above his legs. Also, notice the position of his head—it’s not bent back behind the ball, but is clearly moving with his body.

Critical Drill
A proper pivot is critical to executing a proper delivery. To learn the sensation of a proper pivot, try the bag drill and concentrate on keeping your body away from the ball all the way.


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