Building an Ideal Golf Swing – Left Hand Leads at Impact

[August 2019. Better yet, go to The Hands Lead the Clubhead – IV.]

There is a race in the downswing between the left hand and the clubhead to get to the ball first. The left hand ALWAYS has to win that race.

For any shot hit off the ground, the golden rule is hit the ball first, the ground second. Getting the left hand to the ball before the clubhead gets there is the surest way for that to happen.

What most recreational golfers do is the opposite. The clubhead gets to the ball first because they hit with their right hand. More often than not the clubhead is coming upward, which frequently leads to hitting the ground first.

In addition, the right hand is flipping the club through the ball, taking the clubface out of line. The result is shots hit fat, off line, or both.

Those rockets you hit occasionally come when, by accident, the left hand does get there first.

Watch this video on how to learn this move, and practice what it tells you. I feel this move is the biggest difference between a consistently good ball-striker and everyone else.


Building an Ideal Golf Swing – Transition From the Top

The second transition in the golf swing (the first being the takeaway in which we transition from a static to a dynamic state), is not the start of hitting the ball, and golfers who think it is ruin everything they have done right up to that point. We are still preparing for the hit, even when we are coming down into the ball. We do this by making the start of the downswing a gravity move.

By that, I mean the club drops down without any direct effort applied to it, being only carried by the body turn. Do not ring the bell (pull down with the last three fingers of the left hand). Certainly, do not push the club down with the right hand. Remember what we said in a previous post about pushing things.

By letting the club go along for the ride, we let it begin accelerating naturally, so when the moment comes to swing the club into the ball, it will already be ripping through the air. To push the club downward at the start actually slows the club down.

A good way to coach yourself to let the club fall on its own is to monitor the feeling you have on the inside of your hands, the part touching the club. When the club reaches the top of the backswing and is suspended momentarily, the grip feeling should be quite light, and should not change when you start down. The right thing to do is to carry that light feeling into the downswing–well into it. That way, the club cannot be forced into the ball.

Another drill you can do, even more extreme, but certainly not wrong, is to swing to the top of your backswing, and, as you start down, relax your grip and let the club fall out of your hands as you continue your swing motion with your body and arms. You can get no more effortless than that. Try this a few times, then swing one more time and keep hold of the club, but swing through the ball with the same light feeling as you had when you let go of the club.

I believe you will shortly find your clubhead speed increasing, and it might even be scary fast. Because you are not forcing anything, you will not lose accuracy, and might instead gain some.


Play Golf Your Own Way

I am not shy about taking golf lessons. I don’t over-do it, but I have one when I need one. I read things on the Internet (I can already hear you saying, “Uh, oh.”) and give them try if they make sense on the face of it. But enough is enough. Enough might even be too much.

I have been playing golf for over 50 years. In that time, I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of how I want to swing a golf club. But I was pushing shots, mainly drives, so I had a lesson to fix it.

Also, I lost distance because of my back surgeries two years ago, and I wanted some of it back. I saw a video on the fact that touring pros take one second to go from takeaway to impact. That’s pretty fast, so I spent a few weeks building up the tempo of my swing because I thought it might help.

We had a big snowstorm, so I couldn’t play for a while, but today I was finally able to go out and try out my new (!) swing over nine holes. Oh, brother!

In the first five holes I had one good shot. I was six over par after five and even that was because I was chipping and putting like a champion. This is not how I play golf, so I decided on th sixth tee to quit all that nonsense.

The position the pro had put me in was technically correct, but from that position at the top of my backswing, I couldn’t find the ball again. Know what I mean? As for the one-second swing, it didn’t add speed, it subtracted speed because all the speed was in my body. I had no time let my swing accelerate the clubhead.

So on the sixth tee, I decided to play golf the way I wanted to, to swing the club the way I wanted to. The result? I hit the next four greens in regulation and walked off the course with four straight pars. That’s a bit more like it.

When you buy clothes, you’re buying clothes that fit a generic model. Many times you have to have them tailored to fit you. Golf instruction is the same. The pro can get you close, but the instruction has to be tailored, and you are the tailor.

There comes a point when you have to take all of the advice you have sought out, and the lessons you have taken, and re-package them into something that fits you — how you move, how you think, how you feel that the golf you play is your golf, and that it works (there’s no point in being possessive of something that doesn’t work).

Golf instruction points you in a general direction. From there, find the exact direction on your own. It’s the only way you’ll play your best.


Building an Ideal Golf Swing – Backswing

The purpose of the backswing is to get the club into position to be swung into the ball. A consistent backswing finds the body in the same conformation every time, and at the same place every time. Here’s how to achieve those two things.

Many authorities tell you to take the club away by pushing it back with your left side. Whenever I hear that, I think of the old saw, “You can’t push a rope.” Neither can you push your golf swing. The way to get something into the proper spot is to pull it there, not push it there. (You know why they’re called “tow trucks,” and not, “push trucks”?)

Take the club away, then, with you right side, specifically your right hand. Being right-handed, you will be using the hand you normally use to get things done, in this case to put the club where you want it. What could make more sense than that?

When you pull the club straight back with your right hand, eventually everything else will follow. It will be much easier to get to the same place every time. What place is that? I call it, control.

Take the club back to the spot where you still feel you can come back into the ball without your swing having to search for it. For me, that means taking the hands to about shoulder height. That’s a shorter backswing than most, but it has far more accuracy and really does not lose any punch.

The angle in your left wrist at the top of the backswing needs to be the same as it was at address. Taking the club back with you right hand also makes it easy to preserve the angle in your left wrist, which is a key to keeping the clubface aligned.

If you increase the angle, by “cupping” the wrist, which is most common, you have opened the clubface, and you must close it somehow on the way down, and by the exact amount you opened it. That’s a lot to ask. How about just leaving that clubface angle where it is by not changing the angle in the left wrist? Taking the club back with the right hand does this.

One move, two extraordinary results. You still have to practice it, but this is the easiest way, the surest way to get into good position by the end of your backswing.


Building an Ideal Golf Swing – Takeaway

The first movement in the golf swing plays a large role in determining everything else that happens. Just as the proper setup puts you in the right position physically, the right takeaway puts your swing in the right position.

There is a particular arc your swing would travel through if you were to hit the ball with maximum efficiency. Only if you start the club off along that arc can it continue along that arc. Granted, the takeaway only governs the backswing. But the purpose of the backswing is to get the club in the right position for the downswing. The right downswing only comes out of the right position at the top of the backswing, which is governed by its very first movement–the takeaway.

By “takeaway,” I mean the first few feet of the backswing, before the club head has even gotten to the height of your hip, before your body has even started turning. Just that small movement should feel like is moving along along the line extended behind the ball along which you want the ball to start off. By doing this, you program your swing to return along this line through impact. You give your unconscious mind the directions it needs to bring the club back through the ball along the starting line.

Now there are two things about this that are true. First, the swing is an arc, and has no straight lines in it. When the clubhead meets the ball at impact, it might be traveling along a line that is straight for only a few inches at best. But there is an overall orientation of the arc that must be parallel to the starting line. If we extend the swing arc to make a complete circle, like a giant hula hoop, a line running across the center of the hoop, parallel to the ground, would be parallel to the starting line, too.

This is what we are trying to achieve with our swing, and starting the club straight back makes this much easier to do than otherwise.

The second thing that is true, is that many top-flight golfers do not take the club straight back. Many of them take the club back inside of this straight line and come back to the ball swinging from the inside to out. These golfers have, however, learned how to compensate for this and still hit marvelous shots.

As recreational golfers, without the time available to learn compensations, our best strategy is to learn how to take the club back straight.

The best place to learn how to do this is in your kitchen, since that room is the least cluttered with furniture, allowing you to swing the club back a few feet without hitting anything.

Take a golf stance with the toe of your club up against the baseboard. Now take the club away as if to start a golf swing. (Be in no hurry doing this. Clubhead speed gets built up on the downswing, not the backswing.) You should hear a brief scratching sound, like striking a match. That is the sound of the club moving straight back against the baseboard for a few inches before your body turn arcs the club inward.

If you hear no sound at all, you’re taking the club back inside. If you feel like you are pushing against the baseboard when you take the club back, then you are trying to take it back outside. If your kitchen is not appropriate for this exercise, go outside and rest the toe or your club against a block of wood, at last a foot long, which is firmly supported so your club doesn’t push it out of the way.