In a recent post entitled: TEMPO, I made the point that in order to strike the golf ball cleanly,( at the bottom of your down swing and on the center of the club face), all the movable parts in your golf swing must be in sync…Timing..
Impeccable tempo alone, although providing great benefits to your game, will not be the cure-all to your ball striking ills.. Those aforementioned movable parts must definitely be addressed.
In this article I wish to focus on the primary “movable malady”, that culprit that is embedded in many golfer’s swings…
SWAYING …..( It is generally considered to be an excess of lateral (side to side) body motion in a golf swing,away from the golf ball).
You’ve heard the term swaying most closely associated with the takeaway. From the static position at address, in order to gain the golf swing’s momentum and help the process begin, the average golfer starts the back swing by moving off the ball laterally to the right. ( for a right handed player). And I do mean noticeably off the ball.( See photo).
This immediately takes their swing out, and then around their body and way off of the proper golf swing plane, and the majority of the time, it results in the golfer yanking the club too far inside on the back swing, where the club will eventually get “ stuck” behind her/him. Feeling that they’re out of position they will then conjure up all sorts of ways to attempt to get back into the hitting zone.
On the downswing the sway, through an unwanted metamorphosis,changes into a sliding motion. To compensate their sway, the golfer must slide laterally, to the left, and fight their golf swing in order to get in a position to strike the golf ball.. You’ve heard the fantastic term: “ Let the club swing you”….We’ll with the sway and slide the very opposite is usually true…
Observe the variety of golf movement on the driving range the next time you go. You will see that what the vast majority of golfers have in common is that they are moving all around, and that their ball striking is suffering the fate of inconsistency. It can be ugly to witness..
The best advice I can give the average and beginner golfer regarding stopping the sway in their golf swing,( and then be able to strike the golf ball more solidly), is to keep the lower half of your body quiet throughout the process. This does not mean be completely rigid and stiff, so as to inhibit movement..but close to that..
You’ve seen demonstrations by accomplished golfers, where they knell down on the ground,( creating a stable, stationery foundation,taking their legs and feet totally out of the equation), and yet they are still able to hit a teed up golf ball impressively long and straight.. This underscores that the upper parts of the golf swing are the most important, when it comes to introducing the club head to the ball solidly at impact..
The lower body parts are valued additives that should not be overlooked, but that should not be focused on until the upper body movable parts are synchronized and are ingrained in your golf swing….
Many golf instructors see it just the opposite as I’m suggesting. They advocate using the lower body first and foremost,.. golf from the ground up.. Perhaps it is one reason why golfers’ handicaps continue to remain at the same high levels they have been for decades…. Their advice is sound, but as I’ll argue below,it can be only executed by the proficient golfer…
So much of the golf instruction that we “ junkies” fill our heads with, be it in print, on the internet or in video format, is geared to an accomplished swing. You closely watch Ernie Els’ buttery swing, hoping to subliminally clone it into your technique.. But in these instructional pieces so many of the important minute details of the golf swing are often overlooked in their presentations. They make the assumptions that you already know the fundamentals and nuances of what they are talking about . They mention angles, and lag, pronating,leading the down swing with the hips etc.,, things that the average golfer finds hard to comprehend… And, because we all are at different levels in terms of our learning curve and understanding of the golf swing, we often misinterpret key elements in what we see and read .We may actually pick up bad habits rather than the panacea the article intended to prescribe… And this can lead us on a dark and shady path, from where we are completely lost as to what to do and how to swing a club….It’s a wonder sometime that we can even swing the club at all !
Professional golfers and skilled amateurs sync all the movable parts together. They know how to properly incorporate the “ engine of the golf swing”, the lower body, into the orchestration.It’s all about timing….
They have spent hundreds upon thousands of hours practicing and honing in on their tempo and coordination of all body parts… You have not,… and most likely will not have the time nor desire to put in such effort.. After all it is their job, but not yours.
Therefore, since the lower body,( hips ,legs and feet), are so difficult for the week end golfer to synchronize, I feel it is of utmost importance, and imperative, that you at first focus your entire practicing efforts on learning to strike the ball consistently with your upper body parts, the parts most closely attached to the golf club, ( hands, arms, shoulders and chest). Until you can gain the skills required to strike the ball solidly, time after time,through hand-eye coordination, do not bring the other half,( the lower half), of your body into play….. But please, be sure to make a full shoulder turn. Don’t simply swing your arms back and forth without the upper body going along with them. For this would render your practice worthless..
Once you have built a confident upper body swing, one that you can trust, then, and only then, begin working on bringing the lower body on board…..
Here are some useful bullet points that will hopefully help you rectify the situation:
-At address have your weight slightly favoring your left side.This makes it much harder to sway off the ball at the beginning of the takeaway.
-Brace your right foot and have your right knee pointing slightly inward, in the direction toward the golf ball.( A good drill is to place a golf ball under the outside middle of your right foot. This gives you that “locked in” lower body feeling when you start the back swing).
-Keep your head over the ball and try to have it remain in this position ,( it will move slightly).Think of your head being attached to the top of neck and spine, and turn “up and around” them, not swaying laterally with them.
-As mentioned in my post on TEMPO, find a trigger mechanism that helps you get the golf swing started from a static position to a fluid movement back and then eventually through on the down swing. Hogan waggled; many forward press their hands to get started.. Don’t overlook this important aspect..Do whatever works for you.
-Take the club back at the start in a “ one piece” motion..i.e. the hands, arms, upper body in sync.( A good tip is to have the back of your left hand facing the target for the first several inches of your take away).
I hope this gives you food for thought..and that your game improves considerably.
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