RENSLOW: Fundamental motion and position
I watch a lot of golf swings. Candidly, most of them bear greater resemblance to a violent act than poetry in motion. Yet, I dare say that all of their owners would like to become better players. So, what gets in the way?
Generally speaking, there is one fundamental truth — one simple thing that stands between the average player and the better player. Yet, embracing this change can have similar symptoms to a weight loss diet. Eat right and exercise. Sounds simple, right? But, simple doesn’t always mean easy.
It is a basic, fundamental component to a golf swing that virtually all good players implement and nearly all poor players fail to recognize.
Yet, if we can digest it (pardon the pun), physically and mentally, we will be on the road to a more enjoyable, liberating golf game.
Truth be told, there is no single secret to a good swing. Heaven knows, we all have different personalities, a variety of skill levels, and a plethora of body shapes. However, there are common denominators, base motions that when learned can transform your game from fledgling to fabulous. Our topic today is a fundamental motion and position. In fact, I like to use the analogy of a house. If we were building a golf swing, like a house, you need a solid foundation. You’ve got a plan that includes framing and re-bar and concrete. Without them your house will not stand up to adverse conditions. We need to verify that your base is secure.
The basis or foundation for the swing is good body motions. When your body moves as it should, it provides the support for correct arm, hand and golf club positions.
The first order of business is to verify your body’s position at the end of your swing. Each time you make a full swing, your body (specifically your hips and abdomen) should be facing your target. Your spine should be nearly vertical. This position should be very steady and secure.
Ideally, you will be able to hold this position for at least a few seconds. Enough time to ask the question, “Self…how did I do?” Take a quick physical inventory; hips square? Belt buckle facing the target? Good. Now do it again.
Practice this without the club by criss-crossing your arms and putting your hands on your shoulders. Now simulate a swing with your body, each time finishing with your body square and steady at the target. After a few times without the club, grip your golf club and try it again. Then when you feel comfortable, try to finish in the same position after striking your golf ball.
Again, it can seem simple and in many ways it is, but this one motion is the integral part of your swing’s foundation. It will likely add distance and/or accuracy almost immediately. You see, most people don’t make it all the way around with their body. The hips (and legs) don’t move as they should.
When their motion is limited the arms and hands are compelled to do all the work. Like trying to throw a ball while seated on a park bench, we lose power and accuracy.
To make a dramatic point, try to throw a ball as far as you can (but, don’t hurt yourself) while seated in a chair. It doesn’t work very well. This is what happens when you’re trying to make an athletic motion without correct hip and leg motion. You lose distance and accuracy, and it is actually hard on your body. In a fundamentally sound golf swing, your arms and hands are supposed to work in harmony with your body. Unfortunately, in many swings they are not in sync or are even working against each other.
So, let’s make things better for your body, increase your power by tapping into your core (using a little Pilates lingo) and improve your accuracy (by allowing your arms and hands to ‘swing’ rather than ‘hit’). Every time you make a golf swing, do your best to finish steady with your hips and belt buckle facing the target. You’ll be surprised how much more often the ball will fly toward the target.
John Renslow is a PGA Class A Professional and Instructor at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hank Sowell’s introduction to the game of golf came early as a set of clubs was among the gifts he received on his very first birthday.