Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Club's Rotation and Youtube!

Good morning!  I wanted to talk about two things today.  First, I wanted to mention the great array of free information that is out there on the web.  I will be using lots of youtube links today to illustrate my blog.  Youtube is a great source of learning for me and I am constantly checking out different golf swings.  I also go to some of my favorite golf teacher's sites to see what I can learn.  My very favorite is clemshaw's channel on youtube.  Check him out some day when you have some time to kill. ClemShaw explains arm and club rotation.
(Please hit the back arrow on your browser when you are finished to get back to the blog.)

The real reason I am writing today is to continue in the explanation of what the club does during the golf swing.  Today, we are going to talk about the importance of the club's rotation during the swing.  The only moment in the swing that the club doesn't have slight rotation is in the transition from back swing to forward swing.  If the rotation of the club is interrupted at any other time in the swing, the result will be an improper sequence of motion.  When the sequence of motion is off, the result is a breakdown in the basic lever system of the swing and you will lose power and/or accuracy.

When I am on the lesson tee, rotation is probably my most used word when explaining the golf swing.  The reason for that is two-fold.  First, everything rotates when you swing a golf club and most problems that I see rise from a lack of rotation.  I can hear you saying, "Everything?"  Well, maybe not everything, but close.  I will explain that statement on another day.  The second reason that I use the word rotation so much is the reason we are talking about it today and that is because the club must rotate as it swings.

As your golf club swings back and through the ball, your torso rotates, your arms rotate from your shoulders, there is a little rotation in your forearms and all of this causes the golf club to rotate.  Check out this slo mo shot of Luke Donald:
Luke Donald Slo Mo

Watch his gloved hand and you will see that it starts out with the logo facing the target.  As he swings, the logo faces the camera, then the target and very quickly after impact it faces behind him.  If you can, grab a wedge and swing it in front of a mirror, make some small half swings and watch your left hand.  Hopefully, you will see the back of it in the back swing and the knuckles in the through swing.

This is what happens in all good swings and it is simply the rotation of the arms throughout the golf swing and therefore the golf club.  When you watch a pro, it all seems pretty simple and looks easy.  How do we mess it up as amateurs?  The answer is often, we have misconceptions which lead to tension in all the wrong places. 

Many people I see on the lesson tee lose control of the handle of the club on the way down simply because they quit rotating it.  Here are two examples of poor club rotation:

An example of throwing the club head at the ball.  Often called flicking or casting.  Notice the odd position of the left arm and how it seems to have stopped moving.  Lack of rotation is causing a breakdown in the sequence of movements.
In this picture, the club has also stopped rotating, but instead of throwing the club head, the handle of the club is moved laterally through the shot.  Many people are doing exactly as they hope to do here due to misinformation on how the club works through the shot.  Not only does this move suck away power, notice the open club face. 

The first piece of advice you often get when you learn the game is to keep your left arm straight.  Look at Luke's swing again and check out his left arm at the top of his backswing.  See that slight bend?  Luke's arm is fairly straight as it swings back and through, but it is relaxed enough to allow it to bend at the top.  If you took the advice to heart and you really, really wanted to keep your arm straight, you might have locked your left elbow.  This will lead to problems.  To illustrate the proper tension for your arms, we are going to do a little interactive exercise.

Hold your left arm out straight in front of you with a closed fist.  Put your right palm on your left shoulder and turn your fist so the palm faces the sky.  Did you feel the rotation in your shoulder?  I certainly did.  Now, lock your elbow and tighten the muscles in your arm as much as possible and do the same thing.  Did you feel less rotation in your shoulder?  Okay, now grab a wedge with your left hand only and do the same exercise in golf posture with a little swing.  Don't forget to keep your right hand on your left shoulder so you can feel what happens in your shoulder joint. 

When you did this with only a straight left arm, not a locked one, did you feel as though your hand and arm worked as Luke Donald's worked?  I am guessing that when you locked your left elbow, the club felt heavier, off balance and your wrist broke down instead of cocking.  When your left arm has some freedom, your wrist feels strong and supported, but when you lock your elbow, your wrist seems to become a free agent and flips around.

*Instruction Hint:  If you are a golfer whose left arm breaks down a great deal during your back swing, you are probably failing to make a good turn away or you have experienced back pain or injury.  Instead of working on keeping your left arm straight as you swing the club, work on making a good pivot away from the ball and you will probably find that was the real culprit.  If you have had back injuries, bending your left elbow is better for you and your golf swing than putting a lot of torque on your back.  If you don't believe me, check out this video:
Calvin Peete

The second misconception or bad advice we get as golfers is to keep our heads down.  Once again, if you are an overachiever and manage to truly keep your head down, you will not rotate correctly and lose power.  The best youtube video I have ever seen that explains this well is by Tom Watson.  Watch it here:
Tom Watson
You might ask why I included this when the topic of the day is "How Does the Club Swing?".  Today's breakdown of how your club swings is about the golf club's rotation.  If your body doesn't rotate correctly, your arms won't swing freely and your club will not have any rotation.

*Instruction Hint:  Freely swinging arms will allow the golf club to rotate as it swings. 

Next time, our topic will be the release of the club.  Until then, think good thoughts about your swing and your game.

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