The Essence of the Golf Swing – 1

The golf swing breaks itself down into two basic motions: the body turns, the arms swing. We can hang many details on each one of these two motions, but they are basically it. Today we’re going to talk about the body turning.

To take that little clubhead away from that little ball and be able to reintroduce them to each other, at speed, requires that you can’t be moving all over the place. If the body turns, it needs to be turning around something, and that something must be somewhat stationary.

That something is your spine.

Stand up straight, with your feet a bit apart, and rotate your upper body from your hips. Feel like your spine stays in one place and your torso is rotating around it.

Now bend over from your hips and do the same thing. Turn as far as you comfortably can in one direction, then turn fully in this way to the other side, keeping your spine still. You can let the sole of your foot opposite to the side you’re turning rise off the ground if you want to.

If, when you swing a golf club, you don’t do anything more complicated than this, you will do just fine.

It’s pretty easy to control ourselves in the backswing because all we do is turn away from the ball. The forward swing is the problem because we forget about turning, but think instead of hitting the ball, which makes us think we need to do more than is necessary.

To hit the ball you merely turn in the same manner that you did when you didn’t have a club in your hands. But that is so hard to do, psychologically.

We need a drill that will teach us how to do the right thing in the right way. The right thing is propelling an object way from us as we stand to its side. The right way is by turning.

In Ben Hogan’s book, Five Lessons, there is a drawing of what he calls the “old basketball pass.” “Old” is right, because if you ever see this on the court, I promise you that team’s coach has everyone making two-handed set shots.

Hogan shows a man throwing a medicine ball. Much safer to the furnishings in your house, and just as instructive, is to get a small towel, tie it in a knot, and throw that, à la the picture, while just turning.

Do this over and over to train yourself how to turn through the ball, because that moment is the most important time to be just turning. And all those details will have worked themselves out without you having to bother with them.

One thought on “The Essence of the Golf Swing – 1”

  1. Good advice, Bob. I just read a brief article put out by LPGA players, and the advice was to “get through” the ball. We “ams” can tend to stop at the point of contact with the ball (hopefully, there IS contact!), rather than swinging on through the ball and out towards the target.

    By the way, I used to have a good two-handed set shot…

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