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Ch 14: Applying the Movements in Your Swing

Chapter 14: Guide to the Golf Swing

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, poor man's cottages prince's palaces. Edward de Vere a.k.a William Shakespeare

Now you know what to do. Your challenge is to put this together to make is work. Here are some ideas.

Diagnosing Your Swing

If you are an experienced golfer, you may want to take inventory of your swing in terms of each movement. You have a variety of inventory tools, including swing shot results; the feelings and sensations in your muscles and what you see when you are swinging the club; what you can see in a mirror or reflective window; snapshots and videos; and comments from professionals and knowledgeable golfers.

Swing Shot Results

Start with checking your results. Do you hit with power relative to your size and strength? However you hit the ball, are you consistent? If you are inconsistent, is there consistency to your poor shots; for example, does a percentage go in one direction and the rest go in some other direction? Does your ball start out along the intended line of flight? To the left? To the right? At the end of its flight, does it hook? Slice? Do you hit behind the ball? Do you hit the ball thin (i.e. half way up the ball)? Do you hit your shots high? Low? With power or without?

The results can provide information on the club path (straight, inside the target line to outside the target line and vice versa), the club face angle relative to the swing path (square leads to straight along the club path, closed leads to draws or hooks, open leads to fades and slices), weight shift (weight too much on back foot leads to fat shots), weight shift (inadequate weight shift often leads to fat shots), and so on.

Swing Feelings

Then, analyze your position at the top of your swing. Go to the top of your backswing and then hold the position. You want to ask yourself a number of questions about that position.

Now, analyze your downswing, with or without the ball. Take a number of down swings and in each downswing, think about each individual movement in turn. Is there anything you notice, regarding the various movements and your application of them? Can you feel your lead shoulder socket moving backward during impact, for example?

Then, check your finish position. In particular, do you have your weight totally on your front foot, and are you facing the target?


Take a video of your swing. Analyze it from various angles. Look for specific movements; are you performing them correctly? You never know what you will find.

The movement inventory should give you some ideas about what you need to work on./p>

Video Review

Making Corrections

Practice without the Ball

The best way to build the golf swing is to practice the swing (including each of the specific movements) without a ball to distract you.

First, you want to focus on getting in the right position at the top of the swing by initiating all the movements in some sequence, and holding the position at the end of the back swing. After each movement is executed, pause, and then proceed to the next movement. Once all movements are complete, stop and examine the position you are in. You are striving for a sense of how the swing should feel at the top of the back swing.

Use the stop at the top of the back swing to think about how you are going to implement the downswing. Then, start the downswing by completing all the downswing movements at a sufficiently slow pace that you are conscious of each movement. You may even want to implement each movement individually. Practice this routine over and over again, gradually building up the speed in the downswing.

At the Driving Range

If you want to make major swing changes, the professionals say that 10,000 swings are necessary to ingrain the changes into your swing memory. That's 100 trips to driving range at 100 balls per session. If you take a practice swing before every ball swing, you can cut reduce the trips to 50.

Beyond this, be realistic and patient. Use your practice session to learn more about the game, about your swing, about how to hit the ball. Look at your time as an investment for the future, and a quick preparation for the next game.

On every shot:

Use your swing inventory. If the inventory of your swing has led you to conclude that you need to work on only one or two movements, focus on those movements. If the inventory has led you to conclude that you need to work on many movements, develop a program over several weeks to work on individual movements in priority sequence. Use the golf model to help you prioritize movements. Keep in mind that some movements are closely related (e.g. forearm roll and rotation of upper arms in shoulder sockets, moving shoulder sockets and spinal twist) and can efficiently be practiced together.

A technique for working on one movement is to practice the movement several times by itself in isolation before stepping up to hit a ball, then within a few seconds (while the muscle memory remains), incorporate the practiced movement into a swing.

Putting all the movements together is challenging physical and mental exercise.

Divide each swing into two components: back swing and downswing.

In the back swing, force yourself to swing sufficiently slowly so that you can see and/or feel what is going on.

Work on isolating the various movements in the back swing by applying them individually, rather than trying to apply all movements simultaneously. By isolating each movement, you can make sure you are getting it right. If you get each movement right, your position at the top should be good.

Sometimes, we are so intent on hitting the ball at the top of the swing that we do not give ourselves time to complete some movements. This is particularly true for cocking and uncocking the wrists, and the forearm roll. To address this, put these items at the start of your back swing. There is no "correct" sequence for the movements in the back swing, so develop your own.

Stop your swing at the top. Feel your muscles. Check things out. When you have the back swing right, you can think about the downswing.

In practicing the downswing, select a movement to think about in each swing. You only have time for one or two swing thoughts in the downswing, so do not burden yourself with too many thoughts. Take the swing at half speed. Since the objective is to develop a downswing in which all movements are functioning together simultaneously, cycle your swing thoughts through all the movements in the downswing within your practice session. For example, on the first swing, think leg action based on the ankles. On the second, think upper back (rotating your spine with the abdominal muscles). On the third, focus on moving the lead shoulder socket backward using the muscles attached to the upper arm and shoulder socket.

As your practice session proceeds, if you feel you are doing the movements correctly, gradually speed up your downswing.

Do not become fixed on the results of each shot. Focus on how well you perform the movements, and what you are learning as you go.

Once you have the swing movements in order, work on getting your revised swing to perform well. In performance terms, you cannot expect to hit every shot perfectly, but you can expect to understand why you have a hit bad shot so you do not hit another one. Developing a notebook table with the headings "bad shot result", "possible causes", and "solutions". When you get into a rut where you are hitting a particular type of bad shot, and you figure out the cause and solution, put all this in your notebook table. Over time, your table will catalog your learning experiences, and have a guide so you can identify bad tendencies when they begin to emerge, and correct them quickly.

On the Course

Golf is a game of continually adjusting your swing in response to your experience. No golfer swings precisely the same way, day in and day out or throughout a round or during a practice session, although some players are better at it than others.,/p>

Keep a golf diary, and after each round, note:

Your diary will help you to identify areas in need of improvement and common faults. Review and analyzed it over time; it should become a useful tool for tracking improvement.,/p>

For Beginners

One problem with beginners is that they have hit so few golf shots in their lives. As a result, they do not have the "feel" of a golf swing, and consequently do not swing consistently. These beginners often end up in front of golf professionals with the hope that one professional lesson can provide the magic advice that will make every ball go straight and far. If you do not swing more or less consistently, simple advice is unlikely to solve the problem. You have to find the balance between hitting enough golf balls so that you begin to hit the ball consistently on the one hand and learning proper techniques on the other. In many cases, without a background of practice to develop consistency, that simple lesson to improve techniques can confuse and make problems worse.

Beginners need a golf program that begins with an understanding of the swing's movements and how they work individually and together. They need to work on the movements at home without hitting a ball, to hit lots of balls on the driving range, and to get regular feedback from an external source, which could include a series of professional lessons focusing systematically on the movements, or self videos that are studied in terms of the movements, or regular advice from a knowledgeable player.

The Bottom Line

"How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?"
Edward de Vere a.k.a. William Shakespeare

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