Monday, December 28, 2009

Golf Swing Key Concepts - Part III

In part I and part II of this key concepts series I discussed:

1. Hitting the ball first, then taking a divot.
2. How golfers usually need to hit much more down on the ball than they do.
3. The importance of 'low point control.'

This post will again tie into the previous posts in this series. And again, most blog readers know this by now, but this is a key concept that many non-readers and average golfers have zero idea about. This is also known as the #1 imperative in Homer Kelley's book 'The Golfing Machine.'

Quite simply it's that the left wrist (or the 'lead' wrist) must be flat at impact. Conversely, the right wrist (or the 'rear' wrist) must be bent at impact. Take a look at what I believe is arguably the 5 greatest golfers of all time.

As you can see, and if you try this yourself, when you grip the club when one wrist is flat, the other must be bent. You cannot have 2 bent wrists or 2 flat wrists.

Another concept that must be radically changed is the difference between address and impact. Just recently famous instructor Jim Flick stated in a golf instruction magazine that the golfer should try to emulate their address position at impact and then used Sam Snead as an example (click HERE for the article). Does Snead's impact and address look alike here?

At address Snead's left wrist is bent and the hands are in line with the clubhead. As Snead approaches impact, his left wrist is flat, the hands are in front of the clubhead (in other words, he's properly lagging the club) and he has some forward clubshaft lean.

This begs the obvious question...why does the flat left wrist at impact cause better ballstriking?

1. It 'keeps the geometry of the swing in tact.' Meaning that the low point will be more consistently in the same spot.

This is EXTREMELY important. There's a general consensus that as long as a golfer keeps their head down at impact, then they will automatically hit the ball well. Or at the very least, get the ball airborne.


Here's a video of a golfer who hits a ground ball with a driver, but 'kept his head down' at impact.

Here's a pic of the golfer at impact. Head is 'down' and he's looking at the ball.

This golfer has a host of other probems causing his poor golf shot and having a bent left wrist at impact is one of them.

Where it 'screws up the geometry' is that golfers with a bent left wrist often causes the golfer move their low point further back and by the time the clubhead reaches the golf ball, the clubhead is now going upward. Or, the golfer just never gets the clubhead going low enough to begin with. Here's a great video showing a skulled golf shot.

So, if you truly want to improve your swing, STOP THINKING ABOUT KEEPING YOUR HEAD DOWN. It rarely has anything to do with hitting a bad shot.

2. A bent left wrist at impact means that it's harder to consistently control the clubface angle at impact.

I will get a bit into clubface control later on in the series, but if you bend the left wrist at impact you're likely to see the clubface angle at impact to be all over the place. From open to severely closed to square to wide open, etc.

All that being said, the main point I'm trying to stress in this part of the series is that the golf swing is not nearly as 'hand and eye coordination' or 'talent' oriented as most golfer's assume. Surely, those are important factors and seperate pretenders like myself versus the real deal golfers on Tour. But ballstriking is much more geometrically, physics, pressure and biomechanically oriented than anything else.

If you ask most PGA Tour pros, they basically admit that the goal with their swing is reduce their reliance on hand-eye coordination as they possibly can.



Anonymous said...

Hi Richie,

Great series!

An unrelated question: what's your timeline on the SpeedChain review? I'm considering buying one to train in the off-season as my current drives are in the 200-210 range, with the occasional 240 "bomb" (which is embarrassing for a 210+ young guy at 6'2 ) with a swing speed of about 80. Any thoughts on the device?

Rich H. said...

I'm probably delaying that purchase for now. Mainly because it's supposed to be a big item that you need some room to use it. So I would have to find a place to use it.

Anonymous said...

I see.... makes it hard for you to review!