Monday, January 24, 2011

Technique Continued

The fundamentals of technique that all great players need continued. 

Yesterday, we talked about stability and balance.  Today we are going to cover swing plane and angles or how the club works in an efficient and powerful swing.  It is very fitting that our last topic was balance and our first today is swing plane, because I would like to relate the two and give you a new way to think about your swing plane. 

Once again, I would like you to view a swing that you would never teach to a youngster, yet is a proven winner.  Furyk  When people think of swing planes, they usually think of the old model of a piece of glass dissecting the body and swinging the club along that plane.  Above is a picture of a popular swing plane model.  If you watch Furyk's swing you have to figure that he would break the glass a few times and he doesn't come close to the model.  Here is another proven winner whose swing plane is unique:  Couples  Both of these gentlemen swing away from the plane, but drop the club into position and achieve the angles necessary to produce power.  Swing plane is a very important concept to grasp and all of us who teach the game spend a great deal of time helping our students swing the club on plane.  With that being said, I would like you to consider swing plane in a different way than the glass plane above.  Instead, I would like you to think about the balance of the club during the swing.  This is a different way of thinking about swing plane, but I learned it from the Swedes during one of the seminars with the Swedish National Coaches.  I have found that it is much easier to teach people to feel the balance of the club in their hands than it is for them to have an awareness of what is happening to the side and behind their heads to figure out if they are on plane. 

Pick up a golf club and waggle it so the toe of the club goes up and down.  There doesn't need to be swinging at this point, but I want you to feel the weight of the club.  Using a sand wedge, which is the heaviest club in your bag as far as swing weight is concerned, would be best.  Do the waggle slowly and figure out at which point the club feels heaviest and at which point the club feels lightest.  Now find the balance point in between these two positions.  Usually, the club feels the heaviest until your wrists are cocked and the lightest when it is straight up and down.  Now, do the same as you swing the club back.  Experiment by laying the club to the inside and feel the heaviness on your left hand as it supports the club with leverage.  Swing back and have the club straight up and down and you will feel almost nothing on your hands.  The club will be very light and could easily slide to the ground.  The optimum point for balancing the club is once again midway between heavy and light.  If the club is too upright, it will be too light or above plane.  If the club is too heavy in your hands, it will be below plane. 
The picture on the left shows a laid off club.  The golfer could feel the butt of his club working against his left hand if his awareness were on balance.  On the right, not only is the club off balance or too light in the golfer's hands, it is also poorly supported by his shoulders and arms and is not stable in its position. 
The other important thing to understanding the balance of the club is to think about stability, as we talked about it yesterday.  Properly supporting the club as it swings in balance will allow you to swing as quickly as possible and get maximum power from your golf swing.  I will repeat the links since you may not have read yesterday's post.  The chest needs to support the shoulders, the shoulders support the arms, the arms support the wrists, the firmness of the wrists support the club.  Each link is important and when one link fails, the lack of stability will lead the club to be off balance.  Here are some pictures of Angel Cabrera in some positions of his swing where the club is clearly balanced and is well supported by the links described above.
The club is a bit outside the line, but still clearly balanced.  Most pros swing the club head back outside the hands.
The club is pretty upright here, but still in balance and well supported.

On the downswing, the balance allows great freedom to swing.

Impact looks effortless.  Angel has great lines.

In the through swing, the club is obviously supported with a great chest turn and once again, good lines.

Now, using what you know about the balance of the club and the supportive links that provide stability, go back and watch Furyk and Freddie swing the clubs and you will see that even though their swing planes don't follow Hogan's glass plane theory, they are still in balance and able to move with speed and consistency through the golf ball.  Once again, I want to urge you to understand that all of us will swing the club a bit differently than each other.  Teaching in Vail taught me quickly that most of us are dealing with past injuries that influence our swings.  Also, our builds, flexabitily and strength levels are different.  If we strive to learn Hogan's swing plane without deviation, we might be lucky enough to master it.  However, I find that learning to swing the club in a balanced and supported way is easier for my students to grasp and a more realistic goal that leads to the same outcome of producing a powerful and consistent swing. 

I think this is enough for now and I will talk about angles the next time I blog.  Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  I love to hear them!

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