Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Understanding Torques and Forces in the Golf Swing Video Review

Understanding Torques and Forces in the Golf Swing is a 2 hour video hosted by golf instructor Joe Mayo along with biomechanist, Dr. Sasho MacKenzie.

While this video discusses in detail the different torques and forces in the golf swing, much of which is done in scientific dialogue, it’s main focus is on examining the transition move in the golf swing. Not only does it look at the actual transition moves made between pro golfers versus high handicap amateurs, it provides a new and interesting look at the importance of the transition move.

While Mayo and Mackenzie do utilize a lot of scientific terminology in this video, they carefully explain the terminology so the viewer can come to understand the discussion. That is why I believe the video can be helpful to not only golf instructors, but for the average amateur as well. I can foresee some amateurs being a little confused on some points if they are very inexperienced golfers. But, there is a large network of instructors out on the internet that have either seen the video or have learned from Dr. MacKenzie over the past few years that can clear up that confusion. And with that being said, I think high handicap golfers that have played a lot of golf can understand almost all of the video.

Over the past few years I have encountered a lot of different teaching philosophies that claim to be based around scientific research. What I have discovered is that most of their teaching principles revolve around two parts of the swing:

1) The pivot
2) The arm swing

And these teachers that use scientific researchers are more or less using 1 particular scientific discipline to understand the pivot and the arm swing and abide by that scientific discipline to create what they believe will ‘optimize’ their swing. It’s basically using 1 particular scientific discipline as a ‘means to an end.’

For instance, my friend Chris Como and Dr. Young-Hoo Kwon are using biomechanics as a ‘means to an end’ in their teaching philosophy. Mac O’Grady with his researchers are using neuro-biology and the study of the Central Nervous System as their ‘means to an end.’ Kelvin Miyahira and his research is using anatomical science as its ‘means to an end.’

This creates a large debate because the pivot and the arm swing really comprises of the entire swing from the address position to the finish. And what may be optimal in biomechanics may be seen as flawed by anatomical experts which may be deemed as flawed by neuro-biology experts. And full disclosure, I still work on a Kelvin Miyahira/Lucas Wald swing mechanics.

The refreshing part of Understanding Torques and Forces in the Golf Swing is that it mainly examines a much smaller piece of the golf swing in the transition move. It does look at the corresponding path of the hands in the downswing, but that is far less of the focus. That creates less ‘room’ for debate because the movement being examined is much smaller.

Mayo and Dr. MacKenzie dissect the transition move thru physics (biomechanics is a subset of physics). The main subjects of the video include the Center of Mass, the Net Force, the torque and how the Center of Mass wants to ‘line up’ with the direction that the Net Force is going. While many of you don’t understand what I’m talking about, Mayo and MacKenzie judiciously take the viewer thru each of those aspects and make it fairly simple to understand.

I’m fairly certain that many teachers will feel that the subject is something that they knew/taught all along. And I tend to agree in the sense that teachers and golfers have, for nearly hundreds of years, tried to prevent an over the top move and ‘casting’ of the club in the downswing. What Mayo and MacKenzie have accomplished is a much more advanced understanding of why the over the top and casting happen and why the Tour players are able to prevent that from happening as well as the implications that go along with the over the top move which makes golfers less accurate, generate less speed, causes early extension and well as making golfers erroneously believe that they ‘didn’t keep their eye on the ball’ when they hit a horrendous golf shot or even swing and whiff.

Another excellent part of the video is how Mayo and MacKenzie explain the various ways so many Tour players effectively make the transition move in the swing from Sergio Garcia to somebody like Kevin Stadler

This allows the viewer to figure out how to make the transition move they need to make based on their backswing. The video also goes thru various troubleshooting answers to help the viewer diagnose their issues.

I have read Dr. MacKenzie’s work for over four years now. While I thought I understood his work from his paper on the subject and the use of pronating the left forearm in the downswing, I abandoned the move after struggling with hitting large hooks during tournaments. This video helped me understand where I was going wrong and how I misunderstood Dr. MacKenzie’s papers on the subject. Since I have been working on what I leaned from the video, I’ve gained about 1 club on my irons and I have gotten my club speed with my driver up to 117 mph on Trackman and shots that didn’t ‘fit my eye’ are now much easier to hit.

In the end, my current beliefs on the golf swing (which are always subject to change) is that instead of focusing on impact, the key parts of the swing to focus on are the transition and the release. The other stuff like the address position, backswing mechanics and pivot may or may not play into how we make our transition move and what type of release action we have in our swing.

After watching the video, my dad where paired with a younger married couple with the woman being a club champion at her club. Despite having a backswing move similar to a 20 handicapper and a release style of a 10 handicapper, she had the transition move of a LPGA player and it was easy to see why she was near a scratch handicap.

To me, the transition move more or less dictates whether the player will be able to competently strike a golf ball. And the release defines more of the characteristics of a competent golfer’s ballstriking. But, you can’t put a good release action on the ball if your transition move is poor.

With that, I highly recommend this video to instructors and golfers alike. In fact, I believe this video should be mandatory viewing for the PGA and any Pro Golf Management student. Mayo and MacKenzie go out of their way to not denounce any swing style or golf swing theory because the video is not about that. However, I strongly feel this video could help the golfing world take a major step in significantly reducing the average handicap of all golfers and make the swing easier to understand and provide competency of striking the ball to all golfers much more quickly.

The video is available at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/forcesandtorques for $24.95.


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