Lesson Corner, Spring Primer

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Spring primer:  by Dave Gremmels

      I have been in the golf business most of my life and have worn every hat possible there is in the business. After not playing for 17 years because I was so busy with other aspects of golf, I have found myself returning to the joys of the game. In my early years, I gave many golfers' lessons, and I was a real student of the golf swing myself. The advancements in golf instruction are incredible and precise, almost too precise. The amount of information and detail is fantastic for the new aspiring tour professional, but too overwhelming for the average golfer. The level of competition dictates that pro golfers get into a very high level of detail and extensive training.
      For the average golfer, simpler can be much better. We hear in the golf swing that we have to create tremendous coil then shift our weight, drive our legs, turn the hips to create the maximum centrifugal force to propel the golf ball. That is correct, but complicated to perform with correct action and timing. While all these actions are what happens in a model golf swing, trying to train yourself in limited practice time is difficult and can cause frustration out on the golf course.
      I believe for the average golfer to improve, the simplest approach should be the starting point. From this simple starting point all the other items can be worked into swing at a slower pace. The arm swing is the most important aspect of hitting a golf ball. Have you ever seen a trick shot artist hit golf balls from a chair or on their knees? They aren't using weight shift, leg and hip drive; they are just using the shoulders, arms and hands to hit the ball. If you have ever seen anyone do this, its amazing how far they can hit the ball. In my experience, golfers who are having trouble with their swing are trying to do so much they can't hit the ball out of their shadow. When I get them into just planting their feet, taking the club back with just the shoulders, arms and wrists about half way back and releasing the club properly they can't believe how far the golf ball goes. It feels like just a little chip shot, yet the ball will go 75% of what a good shot with a full swing does. In some cases it even goes farther!

The fundamentals:
      Focus on swinging the club back with your arms as you turn around the core of your body, your spine. As you swing your arms back, let your shoulders follow. When you get the club just past your right hip cock your wrists. It should feel like you only took back the club about a third of the way back and the wrists are fully cocked. The key to this arm swing backswing is to let the forearms rotate naturally as they are going back. This rotation is will result in the clubface opening up. This rotation is key to applying force on the downswing. You don't do this rotation with the hands; you do it with your forearms. The cocking of the wrists is just a hinging upward over your left thumb (right handed golfers).
      To get the feel of what a wrist cock is, take your address position. Without swinging your arms back, simply keep your arms straight and push down with the pad of your left thumb and pull up with the two middle fingers of your right hand. The club will come up off the ground and be in a fully cocked position. This is the wrist action that happens during a regular backswing.
      Once you have the club back in what feels like a third of the way back with the wrists fully cocked, you will swing the club back towards the ball concentrating on rolling your forearms back as quickly as you can. Don't try to uncock your wrists until you feel like your hands get ahead of the ball. This allows for you to hit down on the ball for clean contact and delays the energy to the very last moment, this results in maximum force.
The opening and closing of the clubface is critical in providing an extra lever for applying force. It will take some practice, but learning to get the timing of using this rotation will go a long way to improving your golf game.

hand action

       You will be able to coordinate the strike of the ball and dictate whether the ball will go right or left. If the ball is going right, you will have to keep on working to get the rotation quicker until you feel solid contact and it goes straight or left. You will be amazed at not only how far you will hit the ball, but how you will be able to master controlling what the ball does.

What's up with the rotation creating a lever?

Think of clubhead as a base ball bat, on single axis. The shaft is center or the spine in a baseball swing. This shown below in red.

club rotation

     The faster the bat moves around this axis the farther the baseball will travel. I'll bet you never thought of the clubhead as mini baseball bat. The rotation of the clubhead through the ball creates an extra lever of force for propelling the golf ball. The faster and more efficient you become at this the longer and straighter your shots will be with minimal effort.
      So in a simple arm swing, we not only create a lever from the swinging of the arms and shoulders, the cocking of the wrists but also from the rotation of the club. Just remember the longer you are able to keep your wrists cocked and the quicker you rotate the clubface the farther you will hit the ball. If you can master the release (uncocking of the wrists and the rotation) to be as late as possible the better the results. This will not be done overnight, until you can train your muscles to have confidence that the release will happen quick enough to square the clubface to the ball with the club handle past the ball,  it will feel very strange. Good luck and give it a try.......Next time you are out, ask me any questions you may have.

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