Whether by conscious action or nervous reaction, we all have a trigger to our swing.
A slight twitch or small adjustment to a possibly unomfortable position in the address.
Its a natural tendency that all swings are ignited on.
A search for comfort, a desire to control.
It’s the trigger to that eventual bang.
This article shall aim to highlight the equally destructive and potentially powerful qualities of this essential tendancy. Two of the games greatest, both Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones each exemplified the potential power of a well rehearsed, exquisitely timed and perfectly executed movement or waggle before they proceeded to swing. Both had positive triggers. Through practice, patience, awareness and understanding, they had ultimately developed the bridge that connects the set-up with the swing.
“The function of the waggle and the movement of the body preceding the actual beginning of the backswing is to avoid or destroy tension in the position from which the swing is to make it’s start.”
It’s the tragically overlooked, most common element to all the great swings of the past.
It is, as Ben Hogan so perfectly described it. “Instrumental in helping the golfer make the transition from setting up the ball to starting the swing.”
Whether you realise it or not, you already have a trigger.
So have you ever asked the question; ‘What starts your swing?’
What’s your trigger?
Is it having a positive or negative impact on your golf swing?
Before you read on, take some time to digest the following train of thought regarding the essence of the golf swing and the art of shaping it to control your golf ball.
The toughest part of coaching this game is explaining and ultimately convincing a player how the commonly seen ‘basic’ positions of the set-up totally influence the resulting shape of the swing. Very few players actually position themselves correctly before they make their swing, so resulting in a series of reflex actions that form to create a golf swing full of compensatory moves and resulting feelings. As a teacher of this great game one is forever moving his pupils into the correct address position to best create a reflex action of simple non compensatory movements. When correctly positioned in the address, and before they even attempt to ignite their golf swing, the pupil will typically react with a sudden twitch, shuffle or series of destructive actions that ultimately places them in a more comfortable position in which to make a swing. Ninety percent of the time this common reaction to a sound set-up can be seen in the hands or feet. More commonly in the hands its the position and pressure of the hands on the golf club that have the greatest influence over everything that occurs there after. The application of a great hold on the golf club can be a long and painful journey, but rest assured the short term pain is more than worth the long term gain. In the beginning its only natural to feel horrendously unnatural, which further highlights the great importance of the hands as the most sensitive element to the swing.
“Your eyes commit your mind and body to the target, your hands feel the club, and your feet feel the ground
So when we talk about positive and negative triggers we are simply referring to the effect the trigger has on your address position and resulting swing. Ones first goal as a teacher is to identify the location of your trigger then determine whether or not it is effecting your swing with a positive or negative effect? But first we must work towards shaping ourselves into the most efficient address position for you the individual. We are not building an address position from a precise model, the entire process of teaching this game is a matter of shaping, we simply shape the individual into a position at address that will have the desired effect on the club face as it connects with the ball through impact. We are only ever concerned with the point of impact as this is the moment of absolute truth in golf.
Address the ball to produce a neutral ball flight, one free of excessive side pin in favour of the desired backspin demanded of a straight ball flight.
The art of this game is to react to a target by striking a ball towards it with a club.
It’s a game of reactions.
As we react to the shot before us by first selecting the most effective ball flight.
Then we address the ball in a position that shapes the swing to create the shot desired.
The act of swinging the golf club is simply a reaction that is controlled or shaped by the positions created in the set-up.
In creating the perfect neutral set-up for the individual, at first the position will feel awkward, uncomfortable and sometimes so strange you may think, how on earth am I expected to make a swing from here. When this is the feeling at address we all resort to our trigger, in an effort to gain comfort and ignite a reaction you make a small adjustment. Sometimes this adjustment is so small, so slight, it readily goes unseen.
Spotting the trigger requires a pair of trained eyes, feel free to mail me some video footage as I would love to analyse and highlight your trigger.
As soon as your trigger has been identified, the next job is either eradicating the negative or simply turning that negative into an effective positive. This may take the shape of either a waggle of the club, a kick of the right knee, a slight turning of the head, there are a number of possibilities. The ultimate goal here is to finalise your preparation to swing without damaging the great work you have done with your address to the ball.
Ben Hogan first became aware of the crucial importance of the waggle when he observed the advantage that Johnny Revolta gained by using it for short shots around the green. Mr Hogan studied the waggle as he did every element of his swing, with exquisite detail and unmatched dedication. He was to make the waggle his own and develop a formula for applying it to his full repertoire of shot making. Not happy with one single, easily repeatable movement before every shot, Hogan believed the waggle should vary depending on the type of shot to be played. A more aggressive, low flighted shot into a stiff breeze would demand a much lower more penetrating ball flight so might require a much snappier, aggressive waggle. When faced with a much higher, soft landing shot, the waggle would possibly become much slower. More in key with the pace of swing required to creatively execute the shot before him.
The great Mr Hogan was a true perfectionist, he never left any stone unturned which is why he developed such a key function for his trigger. Whatever he did naturally, he replaced it with a positive alternative, his waggle became an integral part of every shot by injecting the desired rhythm, flair and initial speed into his target reaction.
So next time you take a golf lesson, question your teacher to look closely and see if he can identify your trigger. Im not saying every golfer has one, but sometimes these little infidelities can ruin a good address position and live on without attention. The result is a tireless effort to rectify the issue within the swing, remember, the game is about reacting to a target from a desired shot shaping position, if the ball isn’t responding as desired then theres a good chance that blasted trigger is shooting you down.