Friday, May 8, 2009

Hitting Revelations, Part I

I've been getting more questions in regards to 'hitting.' And for myself, I'm still learning 'hitting' as well. Fortunately I have one of the foremost authorities on hitting in the world, Ted Fort, helping me out. Furthermore, going over to read Lynn Blake's Web site ( and some other sites like Jeff Mann's ( and reading John Erickson's (aka Lagpressure) posts over at

I'll seperate the 'revelations' into part I and part II. With part I being the backswing and part II being the downswing. One other thing I get asked is what does Lynn Blake teach and I tell people 'BOTH!' Depends on the person. That's the true spirit of 'The Golfing Machine.' Lynn has plenty of students with swinging patterns and plenty of students with hitting patterns. Although I think Lynn prefers the hitting pattern more and I think that's due to my belief that hitting is probably better suited for the majority of golfers. But, I can delve into that another time.

I believe that golfers who are trying to figure out whether they are a hitter or a swinger should try to break it down in a simple fashion of what method not only feels comfortable to them, but what method more consistently gets them on plane on the downswing. Obviously, the flat left wrist at impact is important, but *I* believe that golfers are better off trying to develop straight plane lines (and making sure they are not coming over the top) FIRST, then work on the flat left wrist at impact. Mainly because one can still play good golf by flipping through and learning the flat left wrist at impact is a bit harder to learn. Conversely, if one comes over the top and has a flat left wrist, they may be in for a day of frustration.

This revelation started for me a few weeks ago when I shot a horrendous round of golf playing with a friend. I figured I must have been flipping thru impact pretty badly and after the round I went right to the range and taped my swing. And what did I see?

A FLAT as a board left wrist at impact.

So how can that be?

I then took some DTL views of my swing and I noticed I was probably over the top by no more than inch. That's when I learned a simple fact about my golf swing. When I get in trouble, it's because I'm coming over the top. Obviously, I want to get rid of the clubhead throway and stop flipping through the ball. But, if I'm on plane on the downswing and I'm flipping I can still play pretty good golf. But when I'm over the top, even if the left wrist is flat at impact, I'm pretty much dead in the water.

So I took a look at my swing from the previous week when I was not coming over the top and I saw that I was flatter on the backswing. Later on I went to Ted for a lesson and he taught me 'right forearm takeaway' and 'right forearm tracing' and basically said that I was coming too far inside on the backswing which really was a way for me to flatten out the backswing. And reading some of Lagpressure's posts, I really like the idea of a flat backswing over an upright one, because I feel upright backswings are dangerous, but the way I was trying to achieve a flat backswing was the wrong way.

So I worked on Ted's right forearm takeaway with right forearm tracing and started hitting the ball very well. But shortly after I had to take a week away from the game. When I got back on the range, I couldn't hit anything worth my salt. But, this time I knew I was coming over the top. The problem was figuring how to stop coming over the top.

Swinging out to right field didn't work. Growing so frustrated I thought to myself 'you're over the plane. What type of swing is under the plane?'

And I thought and thought.

'Well, Tiger when he wants to hit a big rope hook around some trees is under plane. So let's try that, but let's do it with a 9-iron.'

So then I started to take a Tiger rope-hook swing with my 9-iron. Taking the club extremely inside on the backswing with a very low/flat hands at the top of the swing and then trying to swing very inside-to-out on the downswing. And VOILA, I started hitting very crisp golf shots.

I then tried to incorporate the feel of the downswing into my computer (aka my brain). Then I tried to take my old takeaway and backswing and come down with my 'new' roundhouse hook downswing.

But it would not work. Kept coming over the top, hitting big fades and chunk shots. I kept trying the roundhouse hook swing and then going back to the old backswing with the new roundhouse hook downswing.

Still would not work.

So then I thought and thought as asked myself 'besides the clubhead coming in wayyy inside on the roundhouse hook backswing, what are the differences in feel in the two swings?'

'Well, the elbow placement and movement is different. In the roundhouse hook backswing, the elbow does not move in the takeaway, just the right forearm does. Also, the right elbow at the top of the swing is very much next to my right rib cage.'

Then I thought 'maybe I'm not fanning the right forearm on the takeaway properly. Maybe on the takeaway that right elbow should stay pretty much in the same position while the forearm 'fans open.' Hmm...maybe if I do that and then after the takeaway just take the club back like I normally do, but keep that right elbow near the right rib cage that will do the trick.'

And BINGO the ballstriking greatly improved. I also started to be aware of the right elbow in the downswing (which I'll get to in part II of this post) and with my new driver (Cleveland Hi-Bore XLS), I have proceeded to hit 37 of my last 41 fairways (90.2%) and 36 of my last 54 greens (66.7%)

Take a look at this pic showing the 'fanning right forearm.'

Just pay attention to the fanning forearm part. See how the right elbow is pretty much in a fixed position while the forearm 'fans?' That is the 'right forearm takeaway.' I then proceeded to read some more on the subject and here's a great article on it (

And I felt this part of the article was in particular helpful.

As the Right Foream starts the backstroke it will in turn cause the Right Shoulder to turn therefore allowing the upper torso to turn which will cause the Hips to turn and that will cause the left knee to point to a spot behind (to the right of) the ball as we roll to the inside of the Left Foot.

This is a "Hands Controlled Pivot" and allows more Precise Alignments throughout the golf stroke compared to a "Body Controlled Hands". The blind person become acutely aware of their Hands and aas they reach for a drink the body will respond directly, automatically, to the Hands.
I had heard of the 'beauty of the right forearm' and also heard about Homer Kelley once saying that golfers will want to insure their right forearms, but I never really understood why until now. When a golfer properly executes the right forearm takeaway, it makes a very good backswing pretty easy to accomplish.

There was no more of thinking about what direction I should take the clubhead back on the backswing. Just aim at the target and fan that right forearm back and you're automatically in great positions on the takeaway. Then, just keep the right elbow close to the right rib cage and now you have developed a very good, flatter backswing.

In fact, take a look at the difference in my backswing plane in just a 2 day span.

Even better, I'm hitting a 6-iron in the top pic and an 8-iron in the bottom pic. Yet, I'm much flatter with a more upright lie angle golf club. This has made getting on plane on the downswing much easier and greatly improved my accuracy.

But the thing I've ran across people wanting to learn the Brian Gay type of swing is that they are extremely reluctant to get the right forearm on plane at address. Technically, I do not think it's mandatory, but I think it's highly advisable to get the right forearm on plane at address to use the right forearm takeaway and the right forearm tracing. Not only do I not see any real disadvantages to having the right forearm on plane at address, other than it feeling a bit weird at first, but I think golfers who want to learn hitting and/or the Brian Gay swing model can easier accomplish that by getting the right forearm on plane at address. Plus, a bent right arm at address is MANDATORY for the right forearm takeaway. If the right arm is straight, then you cannot have a TRUE fanning of the right forearm. Instead, the right elbow will move along with the right forearm on the takeaway instead of having the right elbow in a fixed position while the right forearm fans backward.

So, if you want to understand key components of the hitting pattern like the 'magic of the right forearm' and 'right forearm tracing', you're better off getting the right forearm on plane first and then understanding a TRUE fanning right forearm takeaway. That will do the takeaway for you and keep you monitoring the right elbow. Then, just keep that right elbow close to your rib cage and you now have an effective, well executed, flatter backswing and are now in a great position to hit the ball on the downswing.



philthevet said...

Good job Rich, and good swing too..
I am interested in hitting and "magic of the right forearm" since I "met" LBG and Ted Fort posts , 2 years ago. I have studied Tom Tomasello videos, and Delaware posts on LBG too, read and reread 7-3. This is a very good procedure BUT
For somebody trying to learn by himself, there are 2 bigs potential mistakes with hitting procedure:
the first one is making a confusion between right forearm and right hand=> flipping
the second one , trying to get a hand controlled pivot , is to loose the pivot=> over the top
Anyway the best pattern is the one you are confident with, and you have the chance to have a very good pro . I have the feeling , looking at your pictures , that pivot is not your problem...
I feel myself close to Lag's procedure: hitting for long game, swinging for short game (better sensations)
Waiting for your part 2. I do appreciate your insights

Rich H. said...

Back when I took lessons in college under another AI (who was a GSED) we worked on a 'swinging' pattern. I can understand why he probably thought I could be a swinger. I'm pretty flexible, have long levers and my hands got up pretty high which is 'swinger-ish.' However, I used to struggle at times with getting too upright on the backswing. The tough part is that when we would try to flatten out the backswing, it felt extremely weird and uncomfortable and there was a lot of guesswork as to where to direct the clubhead on the takeaway. With the right forearm takeaway, that solved that issue and now I have the elbow in a position that flattening out the swing comes pretty naturally. Wait for Part II and you'll see some other 'revelations' I've made in regards to the elbow and the right forearm that have helped on the downswing.

Anonymous said...

Been a long time follower of this blog, as a first year golfer with a very similar learning style to you, 3Jack. I'm a 6'3" 200 lb/former athlete so your revelations as a tall golfer (and hitter) have particular relevance to me.

Anyways, just got myself a new set of MP33s to replace my old cavity backed shovels as a one year playing anniversary gift to myself, with the thought that the feedback I'll get from blades will offer far more "game improvement" than the tennis racquets I've been swinging around for the past year.

Took them out for a test drive on the range today, fearing that a rookie 90's shooter wouldn't be able to handle a true "player's club." After alternating between towering fades ("straight" slices, really) and weak chunks for the first 20-30 balls I remembered this exact posting from way back when. IMMEDIATE crisp, pure ballstriking for the rest of the session. Contact was like nothing I've ever felt before.

Just wanted to thank you for the time and effort you put into your blog and your forum. Believe me -you've helped and continue to help thousands of golfers on all levels improve their understanding of this great game.