In my 17 years of teaching, one thing is very clear to me – the golf swing is very elusive for most people. One day you have the feel and are hitting it great. Then literally the next day, you try the same tip or feel and you can’t come close to finding the center of the club. What is it about the golf swing that is so hard to repeat? Are you really swinging the club?
The problem lies within two areas – the rigidity and weight of the club AND severe misconception by the golfer of what to do with the club. In this article, I’d like to show you what a golf swing IS and what a golf swing ISN’T using my patented training aid called The PRO. I think you will find the concepts very simple to understand.
WHAT IS A SWING?
A swing relies on a constant pulling force in line with the shaft. A simple way to understand a swing is to do this:
- Hold your club between your thumb and index finger as lightly as possible (Photo 1).
- With your other hand, pull the clubhead until the shaft is horizontal with the ground (Photo 2).
- Let the clubhead go and it will automatically accelerate until the club reaches a vertical position (Photo 3).
This swinging energy is the key to harnessing effortless power and requires NO assistance by the golfer. Learning to position the natural swinging energy in the swing is what technique is all about. If you don’t understand what a swing is and you can’t feel what it is, you will always struggle.
- Place your club on your finger so it is balanced – where your finger is right now is the center of mass of the club (Photo 4).
- Push the handle in one direction and the club head moves in the opposite direction.
- The club is not swinging when this happens which means there is ZERO natural acceleration.
Anytime you employ a “pushing” force against the shaft, the club responds by trying to rotate around its balance point. Once you do this, you don’t have a swing. The only way to hit the ball is to muscle it through impact. This causes a physically uncomfortable swing and is HIGHLY inconsistent!
Here are the three of the most common problems that struggling golfers face.
FAULT 1: “OVER THE TOP” OR “CASTING”
Golfers that cast the club actually start interfering with the swing right from the beginning of the forward swing. By gripping the club too tightly and trying to push the clubhead through the handle, we see what is commonly referred to as OVER the TOP. Over the top is not a swing path problem, it is a misconception by the golfer on what the CLUB actually WANTS! When you try to push the entire club at the ball, the club tries to rotate around its center of mass. Your body then feels the club moving in a path where it can’t hit the ball, and the rest of the swing is spent trying to guide the club back into a place where it can hit the ball. This usually causes a slice or even a push-slice (Photo 5).
FIX1: When you learn that the club wants to be pulled along the length of the shaft, then OVER THE TOP goes away! When you swing the PRO, the grip and the rope will be bent if you are supplying a pushing force at the start of the forward swing (Photo 6). When you learn the feel of getting the rope in line with grip, then you quickly realize that the pushing force you are using doesn’t exist in a swing. The club will NOT swing properly unless you supply a pulling force to get the swing started. To do so reliably, you must have a VERY light grip pressure which allows your wrists to stay passive and hinged.
FAULT 2: EARLY RELEASE (MID DOWNSWING)
Similar to Over the TOP or Casting, many mid-handicappers rob themselves of effortless power by trying to force the release of the club at the mid-point of the forward swing.
In the beginning of the swing they usually look pretty good, but as the club comes around the bend, their wrists push on the club handle and the club is forced to accelerate too early (Photo 7). This causes the body to avoid hitting the ground (fat) and results in the body trying to push or steer the club through impact.
FIX 2: When the golfer employs a true swinging motion, he is only providing a pulling force which naturally allows the club to swing freely around the wrists. Notice when I use the PRO, the Grip, Rope, and Cylinder will swing in a straight line if I am providing that pulling force (Photo 8). If I attempt to force the release of the club, the PRO will bend at the grip and immediately go into chaos indicating that I’m not swinging.
FAULT 3: PUSHING (NO RELEASE)
Many golfers are taught that leaning the shaft forward at impact is the key to hitting it solid. While this is desirable when done with the proper physics, there is a large misconception that arises. Golfers that tend to hit really low shots or have very steep divots are what I call “pushers.” In an attempt to keep the club head behind the hands at impact, they try to hold the angle between the wrists & shaft with so much force that they simply shove the whole club into ball without gaining any natural acceleration from the natural swing of the club! Many players like this also tend to “dip” into the ball to ensure making contact (Photo 9).
FIX 3: When you swing the PRO, the goal is to keep the grip, rope, and cylinder in line for as long as possible. If you are pushing the club, the rope will bend at the grip and never catch up until way past the impact point. If you are keeping it in line by supplying the pulling force, however, the cylinder automatically accelerates into (Photo 10) and through impact (Photo 11). Hitting a solid shot is about learning the RHYTHM and TIMING of positioning the swing, NOT by forcing the club to “look” like you are hitting it solid.
Of course there are many other faults that we pros have identified in the golf swing, but it is my finding that many of the “common” ball flight problems and swing faults arise from simply not UNDERSTANDING what the swing is and having no feedback of when you are swinging and when you aren’t! Once you have bad swing habits, you will never break them unless you can establish the actual FEEL of a swing. I believe the fastest way to develop your swing is to train with the PRO. You will rapidly learn where and when in the swing you are adding unnecessary interference to YOUR best swing!
To learn more about The PRO visit www.swingthepro.com
Dan Martin is Director of Instruction at Rustin Canyon Golf Course in Moorpark, California