Friday, July 15, 2011

Swing Objectives and Compensations - Part II

One thing that really made sense with me is that compensations are not actually ‘bad.’ Again, they are just reactions we make in the golf swing. However, compensations are more often than not troublesome for golfers.

Loren Roberts is a great example. His putting stroked has compensations to it. However, he is the ‘Boss of the Moss’, so those compensations work for him. In other words, he has PROVEN he can make those compensations over and over again. The same can be said for a golfer like Jim Furyk and his golf swing. He’s gone most of his life hitting the ball at an elite level with a swing filled with some large compensations. But, he’s PROVEN he can do it.

A lot of times we will hear golfers say to the effect ‘all that matters is if it’s repeatable.’ That is true. However, most of these golfers have the misconception of thinking that anybody can repeat any compensation if they work hard enough at it. That simply is not the case.

The difficulty with compensations is that they require some extra timing and hand-eye coordination in order to get ‘back on track.’ Using our putting example of a 5* closed putter face at address, I think we tend to find the following scenarios:

- No compensation made (5* closed face at address stays 5* closed at impact)
- Not enough compensation (5* closed face at address, 3* closed at impact)
- Too much compensation (5* closed face at address, 2* open at impact)
- Inconsistent amount of compensation

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there is a ‘compensation free’ golf swing out there. Instead, I think we try to minimize the number of compensations we make and minimize the size of those compensations.

In our putting example, if the golfer has the putter face aimed square at the target at address, I think that makes it easier for them to repeat a stroke where it will be square at impact. If they swing the putter back and the putter face is open, I think the smaller amount the putter face is open, the easier it will be to get the putter face square at impact.

Golfers like Furyk can get well ‘off track’ and find a way to get ‘back on track’ at impact time after time. Most golfers are better off staying as close to the track as they can throughout the swing


While I have been discussing ‘staying on track’, it does not mean that there is ‘one way’ to swing a golf club. There are almost countless ways for a golfer to stay on track throughout the swing. Some golfers swing the club flatter and manage to stay on track with their low point, face angle and plane. Others swing more upright and stay on track.

A big problem with method teachers is that their teaching assumes that every compensation is a bad one because it does not adhere to the method they teach. It also takes out things like the individuality of the golf swing like a flatter swing plane golfer who does a good job of ‘staying on track’, particularly at impact, and forcing them into the plane that their method requires. Now that flatter swing plane golfer may get more upright in the swing plane and struggle to stay on track, even though that was never a problem with their flatter plane.

Lastly, it takes out the understanding that the swing is a reactionary motion.

It is so important to understand that golf is a reactionary sport because:

A) One can understand that a compensation in itself isn’t bad and can now better identify the ‘bad’ compensations versus the ‘good’ compensations

B) It makes it easier to identify what is causing the compensation

C) It makes it easier to fix the compensation

Many method instructors I’ve come across, even those in the top 10 golf instructor lists in magazines tend to do the following with their students:

1) They will see a move that does not fit their method and immediately get the golfer to change it so it is in line with their method.

2) They never identify if the compensation is hurting their ballstriking or if they can make the proper compensation to get ‘back on track.’

3) The odds of them identifying what type of shots the compensation can cause if they do not get ‘back on track’ are 50/50 at best.

4) The instruction to fix that compensation is more along the lines of ‘don’t do that’ instead of identifying what is causing the golfer to make that reaction (compensation).

5) They prescribe a ‘swing feel’ which is theirs and do not get into the mechanics and allow the golfer to figure out the feel for themselves that allows them to repeat the mechanics consistently

6) They quickly blame it on the golfer’s flexibility, age, height, etc. when those things usually have nothing to do with it.

A good example is the laid off motion at the top of the swing

Generally the laid off motion occurs at its base level because the golfer has rotated the left forearm (if they are right handed) clockwise too much. Often times this is caused by the hands getting too far away from the body in the takeaway. When a golfer gets ‘off track’ like that in the takeaway, if they do not rotate that left forearm in the backswing, the backswing plane will be very upright. Thus, they make the ‘reaction’ (compensation) of now rotating the left forearm clockwise in order to not have such an upright backswing plane. But in the process of doing so, the shaft now gets ‘laid off.’

Where many method instructors fail, even the high profile ones, is that in this example they will never identify the left forearm rotation as the base cause. In reality, it’s probably due to the fact that they never understood that the left forearm rotation is causing the club to get laid off.

For them, they will typically tell the golfer things like ‘feel like you are sticking your thumbs in your right ear at the top of the swing.’

First, that feel may work for the instructor but may not work for the student. Second, it has never addressed the main reason why the club is getting laid off. And because it’s not identified the main reason (left forearm rotation) it does not identify the other part of the ‘chain link’ (hands getting too far away from the body) that is causing the left forearm to over-rotate clockwise.

Now, that does not mean that every ‘laid off’ move is due to the hands getting too far away from the body in the takeaway. The difficulty of the golf swing is that there usually not a singular cause and effect relationship. There’s usually a plethora of cause and effect relationships in the swing

The problem with most training aids is that they usually identify a compensation in the ‘middle of the link.’

The SwingGyde is supposed to allow golfers to not ‘cast’ the club in the downswing

It is a product that incorporates a feel for the golfer and is designed so the golfer can install ‘muscle memory’ into their swing.

Certainly, casting the club is a reaction that will get a golfer ‘off track’ and make it very difficult to get back ‘on track’ at impact.

But the issue with the SwingGyde and other training aids like it is that it neglects the stuff earlier on in the swing that is causing the golfer to cast the club. It is looking at the obvious 'reaction' instead of trying to fix what is causing that reaction of casting the club.

Generally when it comes to training aids, I prefer something a little more audio or visual like Sonic Golf or the Taly. I also think that Martin Chuck's Tour Striker is about as good as it gets.

I'm more of a believer in understanding the mechanics and then incorporating the right feel for the mechanics. And obviously, the main point of this 2 part post is to understand that 'good compensations' are ones we can repeat and the ones we cannot repeat, we need to figure out what is causing the compensation. However, those training tools help people understand the mechanical concepts more quickly.



Michael said...

I have a swingyde and personally I use it just as an aide to monitor overcocking my wrists as well as keeping my swing more compact. When I feel it touch my forearm (I have a late wrist set), I start my transition.

It may not be its primary goal but it certainly has turned into my primary use with it.

Rich H. said...

I understand that. However, my main concern would be that there probably is something that is causing you to over-cock your wrists at p4.

From my personal experience, I cannot stress that enough. I have found that when I adjust my mechanics before p4, different things will happen (either good or bad).

This may very well work for you, but it may also require a lot of practice with the swingyde. I'm not trying to call it a crutch, but i just think that chances are there are things causing you overcock the wrist before p4 and you could probably find an easier way to avoid the overcocking of the wrists by addressing those issue.

of course, i've been wrong before. but, from my personal experience the light started to go on once i stopped looking at as trying to stop a compensation by saying 'don't do that' and having training aids that 'don't do that.' Once I started to fix the issue by looking at what is causing me to make the compensation, things got a lot better and easier for me to fix.

Obviously, the big question would be what is causing the wrists to overcock?


Michael said...

I'll turn my shoulders until they're behind the ball, and then continue to hinge my wrists until they can no longer. Good luck trying to hold onto that angle, and thank you to whomever taught me "the more you hinge your wrists, the further you'll be able to hit it since you'll be able to store that angle all the way to the ball."

I agree though that it is like a crutch. It's great when it's on the club, but when it's off, I have no more reminder.

Rich H. said...

Haha. Talking of 'things people told me a long time ago about the swing that weren't true that I can't get rid of'...I was on the range and really thinking I wanted to punch the person who told me to 'get behind the ball.' Yeesh.