Sunday, August 1, 2004
Pull The Trigger
Great swings begin with great starts
When you stop moving, the extra pyramidal system takes over. This is a postural system that is activated when you become motionless. It’s like a coat of ice that forms over your body. When you need to move, you have to bust out from the ice with a brisk, conscious motion. Just look at the soldiers in front of Buckingham Palace. When they do have to move in case of an emergency, they do it briskly in order to break free.
Your address position isn’t one in which you want to be motionless! If you get into your setup and proceed to start thinking about what swing thought you need, you run the risk of becoming frozen, and this alone can literally ruin any chance of starting your swing smoothly. This is why you prioritize before adopting your stance. Imagine yourself over a four-foot putt and you stop moving completely. Your body stiffens more with every passing second and you start wondering how in the world you’re going to pull that putter back smoothly without jabbing or steering the ball toward the hole. (Both cases often result in misses, by the way.)
There’s a helpful book on this subject by world-renowned neurologist Harold Klawans called Why Michael Couldn’t Hit: And Other Tales of the Neurology of Sports. In one of the chapters, Dr. Klawans explains how Ben Hogan’s routine with the putter was quite different from the one he used with his full swing. His full-swing routine would have a fluid waggle, leading him into his motion. In contrast, his putting technique was almost totally static. In fact, if you look closely at old film footage, you could routinely see him stop moving before his stroke. Hogan had gone on record to say how much he disliked putting and how he’d occasionally struggle with it. He described many important situations over short putts as being frozen over the ball and found it very difficult at times to pull the putter back. The reason? He didn’t maintain constant motion.
Step 2. Stay Loose And Keep Moving
To prevent yourself from yanking or jerking the club back when you initiate your swing, find yourself a waggle or a forward press to activate a smooth motion. Also, the solution to your putting yips is to simply have a routine where you don’t stop moving before stroking the putter. Davis Love III is a perfect example. After his practice stroke, he walks into his stance and address position, looks at the hole one more time, and as soon as his head and eyes are focused back on the ball, he puts his putter into motion.
Watch players like Mike Weir and Vijay Singh. Mike Weir waggles, returns to the ball and is immediately in motion, while Vijay Singh kicks his right knee and hip in slightly toward the ball before starting his swing. One player who used to suffer the perils of paralysis by analysis with his routine is Sergio Garcia. He would stop moving, re-grip the club, then stop moving again. This would turn into a vicious cycle, especially under the pressures of a major championship. Today, thank goodness, he waggles once, re-grips once and then swings. No doubt, this fix is a big reason for his improved play this year.
Moreover, the better your trigger routine, the faster and more efficient you’ll be on the golf course, especially under the gun. Have fun with it, and if you have any questions, please e-mail me via www.shawnclementgolf.com and, of course, if you wish to book a session with me to develop your routine, call (800) 461-0236 or visit www.tabooresort.com.
Former Canadian PGA Tour professional and 17-year instruction veteran Shawn Clement is the director of instruction at the Taboo Resort Golf Academy in Ontario, Canada.
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