The start of the downswing is an athletic unwinding from the ground up sequence. It is mandatory that there is more weight on the front leg to start this sequence. You can not start to unwind with more weight on the back foot. Traditional golf instruction has been sliding and loading up the back side and causing the need to recover from this problem so they created the “Bump and Turn” recovery technique that fixes the fact that you slid your weight to the back foot to start with. This all has to go! If on the backswing you maintain at least 60% of your weight on the front foot, it creates much more potential power because the shoulders can wind up against a firm lower body. Then on the downswing since your weight is already on the front foot, the small muscles in the knees can easily start to unwind the larger thigh muscles in the legs, that engage the hips to unwind the torso and shoulders. The arms & club just go along for the ride. This also fixes many miss hit shots once all the sliding is gone. When you don’t slide, you get Wind up, then Unwind … not slide and wind up, then slide back and unwind. Welcome to the middle of the club face almost every time!
Now, what generally upsets this natural, easy and athletic movement, is the impulse to hit at the ball with the hands. Learn to keep your hands passive with constant grip pressure and the Large Muscles will control your Backswing, Downswing … Golf Swing… Ross
Had this question this morning:
Q – How do you make the ball draw from right to left as a right hand player?
A – The way I teach this, is to start with the club out in front of you… arms extended with the shaft in line with the front arm.
Now, for a normal shot, the club face leading edge, should be exactly straight up and down, but for a draw, you want to loosen up your grip and rotate the face closed a little, then re-grip. You are essentially gripping the club with a slightly closed club face. Now, just let your arms and club hang, walk over to the ball (it should be just inside your front foot) and with the your arms still hanging, use your feet to rotate your body to line up the club face (to your target) just behind the ball. Once you are lined up, just sit down. Do not adjust your feet. Your feet should already be in perfect position. This is where many golfer become disconnected and non-athletic. They arbitrarily plant their feet and force the arms and club to go by the line the feet picked instead of aligning the entire body based on the club face! Also, having the ball forward helps you turn through to face the target. You don’t have to do anything with your hands at the ball because the face is already closed a little. Start the club winding your shoulders around your spine, then start the downswing using your hips to unwind, pulling your arms/club back down in front of you as you keep turning. The ball should have a little draw on it if you have not used your hands in the backswing to open the face an are holding it open.
If the ball starts “Hooking”, it is because you flipped the club face closed with your hands, or let your arms and club pass your body rotation too soon.
Record your golf swing at the range, on the course or in the backyard using the New iPhone/iPad App Golf Swing Analysis and have your swing video analyzed by PGA Professional Ross duPlessis. Now available in the App Store.
What is a Chicken Wing anyway? What happens? Why is it wrong?
First of all, The Chicken Wing can occur on the backswing and/or the downswing.
The Elbows work kind of like “Supports” under the shaft. At the top of the backswing, the back arm is folded under to support the club shaft. Then on the downswing, once the body is finished rotating, the front arm is folded underneath supporting the shaft again. All this happens naturally if the arms and hands are passive during the swing.
Now a Chicken Wing look on the backswing will have the back elbow actually pulling the arms and club behind the golfer. Instead of being underneath the shaft, it has been lifted up as much as 90 degrees (from being underneath) and is now in line with the shaft. This is not a repeatable or productive position.
Now the inverse of this is the Chicken Wing on the downswing, that usually occurs at impact and just after. Again you have the elbow (this time the front elbow) actually pulling the arms and club across the body. This Chicken Wing look after impact usually means your body rotation stopped and the hands and arms took over. The way the front elbow should work on the downswing is, the front elbow will point back at the front hip at impact and later on in the swing folds underneath to support the shaft at the finish.
This is what the arms and elbows should look like during the swing… At the top of the backswing, the front arm is straight with the back elbow bent (*about 90 degrees) underneath… then on the forward swing after the body is completely rotated, the back arm is straight with the front arm bent and elbow underneath.
The Big Key: THE ELBOWS ALWAYS STAY CLOSE TOGETHER DURING THE ENTIRE SWING. If they come apart it is usually because you are pulling and trying to use them. Keep the arms passive and let the shoulders and body turn move them.
*Really great players help maintain their radius and extension during the swing by not allowing the elbows to bend in towards the arm less than 90 degrees). This keeps the width of the swing arc constant for a more reliable swing.
Power comes from Winding the shoulders first from Top Down, while resisting with the Lower Body. What I mean is… the backswing will use the shoulders to wind the arms and club around the spine, AS YOU RESIST* with the lower body. In other words, holding your lower body still while the shoulders turn first to get a head start. Eventually the hips are pulled over a little from the shoulder turn (the hips do not move on their own or slide at all to the back foot… if you want power you need resistance)…. Now on the downswing you unwind from ground up… start with the hips pulling the arms back down in front of the body as you keep turning. The faster you unwind, the farther the ball goes… just like throwing a ball.
The above paragraph has a lot of good stuff. Once learned, you will hit the ball very far with all clubs. There is no magic trick other than practice and repetition… Ross
*One great way to “resist”, is to keep the back knee braced inward, as your shoulders wind up on the backswing. Try to keep 60% of your weight on the front foot on the backswing. You’ll be able to return back to the ball much easier.
Another question from a student that I’m sure many of you would like to know the answer to.
Q. How do I get more backspin on the ball?? Every time I get it on the green it rolls further than i want.
There are a couple of ways to look at this:
1. Spin happens when the shaft of the club leads the club face at impact. Meaning the handle is way ahead of the club face (or leaning forward). This creates a descending angle of attack causing backspin. Most golfers are flipping the club head into the ball or hitting with their wrists throwing the club head at impact. This wrist action has the opposite affect on the ball making it skull or roll too far. So if you want spin, keep the shaft in line with your front arm and don’t let your hands change… use your body rotation for the source of power. Also the amount you open the club face before you setup adds more spin (but you sill can’t flip… just turn)
2. Really good players do not rely on spin because it is not constant from green to green. It looks cool but you are never sure what the results will be. Learning to control the roll (like just tossing a ball short of the hole and letting it roll up to the hole and stop) is by far the best way to play golf. You will score better over the long run. This too is about having the shaft in line with the front arm and not flipping but not as much “lean” or not as much ahead of the club face with the shaft. Just pick a landing spot and anticipate the roll to the hole… takes a little practice but pays off big.
3. Very advanced players know how to use “Gravity” to stop the ball. Make it sit down like it is stuck to Velcro. This technique is all about the angle of descent or the angle the ball impacts the green. Nothing to do with spin. For example, if you throw a ball straight up and it comes down and hits the green, it doesn’t roll very far does it?… hummmm. You get it. If you can hit a shot high and imagine the trajectory coming down into the green, you can stop the ball almost anywhere. Learn to picture the ball falling out of the sky and use gravity for great results… Thanks for listening… Ross
Hint! : Look at your hands at your finish to see what you did through impact. They should look exactly like setup if you actually did keep your hands from flipping. Practicing this and learning to control the shaft will change all aspects of your game BIG TIME … Ross
If you are not already preparing your arms and elbows like this before you setup, your swing is about to improve a lot. This question came to me this morning in an email and here is my reply:
Question – How tight are your elbows pointing at each other and how tight on chest?
Great question … I think the easies way to know, is to hold the club straight out in front of you from the shoulders with your arms fully extended, shaft in line with the front arm, elbows pointing down and towards each other. This is a critical. If the arms are not extended, they will elongate during the swing (changing the radius). Now keeping a little tension at the elbows, allow the arms to drop down on top of your chest (not pinching your chest, on top). This gives a radius that can be maintained but freedom to be controlled by the shoulders. I call this the “Template”. Now with the template hanging, we can use this as a guide for setup that is repeatable. One key point for all this is the elbows pointing back towards the hips as a recurring relationship. They start that way and realign as the hips pull the arms back down in front of the body turning through impact… here is a video that will help The Ross Move
All great players somehow before they hit, got their arms in this position. Hogan had a picture in his book with string winding around the arms to hold them close together. I see many tour players (subconsciously) stretch and lengthen their arms just before they take the club back to get into this same setup. We need a constant continuity through the arms that does not break down during the swing so the shoulders can take over and rely on the arms to stay the same… thanks for the nice comments… please let me know if you need more help… Ross
A student emailed me to ask what kind of grip I would recommend… here is my answer:
Please read all this to understand my answer to your question: “What kind of grip you use only matters with a golf swing that “hits” at the ball with the hands. The grip acts like an offset to make corrections for what the hands messed up on the backswing”… What you will find with my method is the Big Key is a constant Grip Pressure. Here is why.
With the slightest hint of the hands getting involved during the swing, the body will stop rotating to support a “Hit At Something” with the hands just like chopping a tree (you stop your body to throw the axe into the tree, you don’t turn and chop together).. this is why I believe my method is more Athletic. A quarterback uses his body to throw his arm through, the body unwinds to throw the arm… the arm does not pass the body rotation midway. A good baseball player hitting out of the park, does not stop his hips half way and let the arms and bat pass his turn, he hits the ball with everything while turning (the mass of the entire body hits the ball). This is the element I discovered that has been missing with traditional golf instruction, stopping and letting the arms and hands take over and wasting all the power of the body rotation and mass. Another misconception of “Clear your Hips First” also robs power and causes problems. This is a weak position, because all the potential power of the hips and core already went by and now comes the arms and club stuck behind trying to catch up (Leads to shanks and flipping to save shot).
At a higher level of my method, the hands are completely passive allowing the Large Muscles to Dominate which keeps the club face always square because there is no disruption (by the hands) during the swing. Also, there is automatic perfect hinging and unhinging that takes place when the hands don’t take over. So… use the grip you are comfortable with… keep a constant grip pressure (3 on a scale from 1-10) and learn to hit the ball with your body turn… Start with little shots using the Straight Arm Swing drill … Be aware of your grip pressure during every swing for awhile … takes practice but you will see… Ross