Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How Does Your Golf Club Swing?

Today's blog is about how the golf club works in your golf swing.  So many people come to see me on the lesson tee worried about what they need to do to hit the ball, but with very little knowledge of what the golf club needs to do to hit the ball.  It will be easier to understand how you need to move if you understand what the club does throughout the swing.

We will talk about three parts of the golf club: the club head, the shaft and the handle and how each works in the swing. Your goal as a player is to learn to control each of these parts.  In order to achieve this goal, you first need to understand what each part is doing during the swing.

The handle of the club is your connection and in essence your steering wheel.  Your hands and arms will interact with the club to create leverage, momentum, rotation and release.   What your hands do with the handle is of the utmost importance to hitting good golf shots.  Whether you are learning golf or an accomplished player, this is the center of your golfing universe. 

We will start with leverage and momentum.  If you simply lifted the handle of the club in front of you and kept your arms, hands and the entire club on the same plane, you would begin to create momentum, but no leverage.

If you have a club nearby, you can try this now.  Your club and arms will feel somewhat heavy and you might be using your shoulders to help lift the club.  *Instruction Hint:  your shoulders shouldn't shrug up and down as you are swinging the golf club. 

Now, instead of lifting your arms, simply cock your wrists in front of you and raise the club head in this way.
When you make this move, you create leverage, but not much momentum.  This move goes by many names, such as creating an angle, setting the club or simply cocking your wrists.  *Instruction Hint:  if your hands move around on the club while setting this angle, we need to work on a better grip.  Time for a grip lesson?

Finally, lets put the two moves together and create both momentum and leverage.  However, I want you to do them in different orders.  First, raise your arms and then cock your wrists.  How did this feel?  Probably a bit cumbersome and I would guess that you are shrugging your shoulders once again.  Now do it in the opposite order and cock your wrists prior to raising your arms.  Do you notice how relaxed your arms stay throughout the movement?  If you look at the top picture of me lifting my club, you will see a lot more tension in my neck and shoulders than you do in the second or third pictures.  There needs to be some tension in your body in a golf swing to maintain structure and balance, but that tension shouldn't be in your shoulders or neck.

Leverage is one of your greatest friends in the golf swing and learning to create it early and correctly will put you on the path to hitting good shots.  The other important lesson to take away from this simple exercise is that the sequence of your movements matter.  Learning to swing the club from the handle will allow you to have tension free arms and shoulders while lifting the club creates tension in those areas.  Be careful of your buddies who talk to you about a "one-piece takeaway" or straight arms.  Both of these tips often create poor sequences and lots of tension.  You can make all the correct movements in the wrong order and look pretty good doing it.  However, those swings rarely have enough freedom to create great power.  If you can swing  the club in the most efficient manner, your body will learn proper movement and motion with much more ease than if you focus on how you should move your body to make the club work. 

Our next blog will cover the rotation and release of the handle of the golf club.  I welcome your questions and comments.  Hopefully, there will be too much snow outside to do these pictures tomorrow!

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