Sunday, January 24, 2016

Should Impact Position Be the Same as Address Position?

Manuel de la Torre, World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame '05, asked the following question in a November 2000 educational seminar:

"Should the club be in the same position at impact as it was at address?"

After some replies and comments to the contrary, he answered his own question:

"In principle, yes, the club should be in the same position at impact as it was at address. Though some differ due to personal mannerisms and play well despite of them."

Manuel advises the following club position at address and presumes it for this discussion. 

Obviously this static picture of address does not look like a typical dynamic picture of impact. 

So, how can they be the same?

He elaborated "because the body is turning at the top and everything is moving together. The body is moving and turning ahead of the club, so when it gets to the ball the club will be in that same address position but the body will be in this position (he displays the typical impact body position). So at that point this (pointing at the arm and club) will be in extension together."

"The impact position is something that just happens because of the turning action of the body in relation to the club's motion."

"The key thing: To hit a square object flush it must return as it was though the body would be turned and with the hands ahead it can not be flush."

At address he advises a neutral grip, the club centered as seen above and weight 50/50 on each foot. 

During the swing, the player can replace the club as it was addressed for "flush" contact even though the body position will be different. 

Read this related article concerning Sam Snead:

For your own improvement, try the following drill found in PGA Golf Professional John Hayes' book: "Learning Golf with Manuel"

Swing the club to the end of the back swing and stop; now return the club (the whole club) as it was at address and stop. Now hit the shot with the same intent, without any of the stopping, allowing the club to continue to the finish of the forward swing.
So the intent is to simply set the club back to the address position (see pic above) from the end of the back swing and let it continue to the finish.
Manuel said "this gives a student a good picture of impact, and it also takes the impulse to "hit" out of the equation."

This technique has proven itself to be effective on the lesson tee and on the golf course for students. And according to the article it worked well for Sam Snead too. 

So yes, in principle the club should be in the same position at impact as it was at address. Physically, the club may be different than at address but it's not something you do, its something that just happens because the body position is different.

Consider and experiment with this technique. It's simple, it works and is something you can do.

All for a better game,

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Swing and It's Plane

Swing is defined as "changing location by moving back and forth, move in a curve or arc...."

A plane by definition, "is a horizontal shape in which no part is higher or lower than another."

See Trackman's definition here:

A golf swing moves the club head back and forth and produces an arc. This shape forms a plane, especially in the forward swing from est. waist high to waist high. 

Players can swing left, right or towards the target line. Each has its' own effect on ball flight depending upon the club face orientation at impact.

Good players consistently control their ball flight by use of their arms (shoulder to elbow) to produce the forward swing, its' resulting plane and how it relates to the target line. 

Dr. Young-Hoo Kwon writes in his 2012 paper "Asessment of Planarity of the Golf Swing Based on the Functional Swing Plane of the Clubhead and Motion Planes of the Body Points in Golf":
 "the arms work somewhat independently from the trunk in a fashion to secure a clean planar motion of the clubhead..." 
"Trunk rotation and linear shoulder motion...tends to promote an off-plane motion of the clubhead (and a spiral swing) by pulling it down past the functional swing plane."
This latter action is common and should be avoided in trying to control ball flight. The spiral action of the club head across the desired line is a primary cause of slicing, pulls or bad hooks. 

Players who do this often think their fix, understandably, is to "stay on plane" but this misguided. 

As Manuel de la Torre states:
"How many of you have tried to stay on the plane? If you swing it, it will be on plane but to do so consciously is nearly impossible. Plus there are 14 of them through the bag."
A better prescription would be to produce the forward swing with the arms and apply the desired forward direction of the club (clubhead). 

The plane will take care of itself.

All for a Better Game,

Monday, January 18, 2016

Swing: To Move Back and Forth

The golf swing can be conceived simply and executed effectively as a back and forth motion. 

To some this is unconventional, different or unique but it fits the definition of swing and it can benefit your game if executed.

In the act of swinging, the club head travels back and forth on an arc and a circle if the forward swing is extended. 

It's circular shape is well evidenced.

Please look at the following five pictures that demonstrate the swing. Is your concept a back and forth motion?

Back and over the shoulder

Swing it forward from the end of the back swing.

These pictures display a common and effective method of swinging. Toe up back, the face square on the ball and toe up forward with the whole club pointing at the target. 

It produces a shallow angle of approach, straighter ball flight and other benefits. 

Now observe the following four pictures that demonstrate conceiving the swing in a up and down motion. 

This is also common but the pictures demonstrate that up and down is different than back and forth in both concept and in direction. 

I believe these differences compete with the idea of producing a shallow approach, straighter ball flight and other benefits. 

If you think it is an up and down motion and are interested in back and forth then please consider it as Manuel de la Torre describes:

 "The club isn't up there and the ball down there. They are both on the same circle."

Please read that again and refer to the forward swing pictures above.

Can you see both the club head and ball on the same circle during the swing?

Words have meaning and the concept you possess matters to your game. 

In the definition of swing you will not find the word down because it describes a different concept and direction than forward. 

And physics tells us "if an object is being propelled in a certain direction with another object, the direction of both objects must be the same." 

Down and Forward are different directions. 

Manuel writes it this way: "The club should be swung with the intention of sending the ball to the target not with the intention of driving the ball into the ground..." 

The target is forward. 

Now imagine the difficulty in swinging down at 80-100 mph and then trying to change the direction to forward. It can't be done. But it can be done relatively easily by swinging it forward from the beginning.

For these reasons and the short duration of the swing, I advocate "forward" solely for intent and execution. Especially to the average player who hears it typically described solely as a downswing. 

Use this picture as a mental image of forward as you swing. 

You might ask: Can I miss the ball? No. 

Remember, the club head and ball reside on the same circle. The swing and it's properties are on a tilted plane that matches the ball. 

You will not miss.  

I encourage you to consider these ideas and experiment with them. Swinging the club back and forth is a simple and effective way to conceive and execute the motion. 

It may be different or unique but it fits the definition of swing and it can benefit your game if executed. So try it!

Swing it Forward
All for a Better Game,