What does the word swing mean to you?
Have you grasped the true sense of its grace?
How about its freedom of pace?
The golf swing is whatever you say it is, its yours, and only you know what that is, its either a series of complex movements, a 1, 2, 3, and a 4 or maybe even more, each strategically connected in a swish and a whack. Or its a free flowing motion of instinctive grace, effortless power and rhythmic pace. You either strive to control it or you love to feel it! Either way, its yours and taking own of it is what will ultimately define you as the golfer you were born to be. Now its not for me to say swing it this way or swing it that, all I care for is keeping it at that, a SWING. Many a great golfer, a player, a teacher, a brain and a hack have had their say when it comes to what works and where their swing is at, but what most concerns me is what the swing is truly about.
For me its nothing more than a free flowing motion of ball controlling motivation.
Thats right, the only purpose or function of the golf swing is to provide the correct contact of club face and ball, the game of golf is 'Ball control' and you can't control the ball unless you have the club face behaving itself when it hits it. This commonly forgotten and readily unspoken facet of the game is the most important of all golf's teachings. Its what we are trying to do when we swing the golf club, nothing more, nothing less, we are simply attempting to control the golf ball and the player that does this better than the next will ultimately achieve the most.
The great Bobby Jones once said he never became a truly great player until he learned how to correct himself during the heat of tournament play. Now this was during the truly instinctive years, pre traveling teachers, or video play back and television broadcasting, all he had was himself. There was no second sight or extra pair of golf swing eyes, which makes it clear in my eyes that Mr Jones had complete understanding of what was happening at the point of IMPACT, he could read the flight of his golf ball and relate it to precisely what was happening in order to create such a flight. With this kind of wisdom he was able to successfully adjust his address position to influence IMPACT. This is the mind of a great player and with this kind of LOGICAL understanding of the most important position in the swing, you too can begin to enjoy the feeling of success Mr Jones once graced us with.
So what is the correct impact?
There are four distinct facets to impact.
1. The CLUB FACE - In order to hit the golf ball precisely online towards the target it must be SQUARE to the target. The leading edge (bottom edge of the club face) must be at 90 degrees to a straight line (ball to target line) running directly to the centre of your target.
2. The SWING PATH - Not only has the club face got to be SQUARE, but the club has to be traveling on the correct line towards the target. So the club face has to be precisely online to the ball to target line as it swings down and along the line of the target. As we stand to the side of the golf ball, the natural path of the golf club should follow by swinging away from the golf ball to the inside of the ball (the bodies side) then return to the ball before swinging back to the inside again (the bodies side) whilst producing a SQUARE club face position as it passes through the golf ball.
3. The ANGLE OF APPROACH - As the golf ball is on the ground and to the side of us, you have to swing the golf club up, then down and then up again. This will create an angle of club head approach to the golf ball which has to be appropriate for correct contact to move the golf ball forward.
4. The CLUB HEAD SPEED - As hard as probably 90% of all golfers try to create more club head speed, they really shouldn't as very few people really struggle to create it naturally. What lacks in speed is the correct application of the first three facets. What you see when you lack distance or relative club head speed is an incorrectly applied CLUB FACE, SWING PATH and ANGLE OF APPROACH through the golf ball at IMPACT. For instance, if like a great many golfers you consistently see your golf ball turning to the right in its flight then you are without doubt striking the golf ball with an OPEN club face (aiming to the right of target). Your natural reaction to this is a SWING PATH that will deliver the club head from OUTSIDE the ball to target line (from the other side of the golf ball) and not from the correct INSIDE the target line path in an effort to counteract the balls persistent flight to the right. The resulting OUT TO IN PATH makes it impossible to strike the golf ball towards the target and will naturally create a much STEEPER ANGLE OF APPROACH which greatly decreases your potential for maximum CLUB HEAD SPEED through IMPACT. The converse of this is the player that consistently strikes the golf ball to the left with the club face closed (aiming to the left of the target), will develop a swing that delivers the club head on a PATH from IN TO OUT (to far from behind the player to a point on the other side of the ball away from the player). The resulting ANGLE OF APPROACH is way to shallow as it really doesn't hit down on the golf ball at all and typically results in shots along the ground and consistently to the right of your target. It will always miss the bottom of the golf swings arc.
So lets recap, the function of the golf swing is to provide the correct IMPACT of CLUB and BALL.
CLUB FACE SQUARE.
SWING PATH STRAIGHT.
CORRECT ANGLE OF APPROACH.
Will result in MAXIMUM CLUB HEAD SPEED.
While there is no sure fire way of guaranteeing you achieve these key facets every time you swing the golf club, there is a way of providing the best possible chance of it. That is to ADDRESS the golf ball correctly in the first place, which is why the SET-UP is so important because it directly relates to the IMPACT.
Hopefully you can begin to see how neglect in one small area such as CLUB FACE alignment can cause a catalogue of further most damaging errors. Get the most important facet of the word swing correct first and you have successfully scratched the surface of what's demanded of a fully functioning and highly effective golf swing.
Now the purpose of this piece is not to dive to deeply into the great ocean of fundamental requirements such as GRIP, STANCE, POSTURE and BALL POSITION. I want to focus this piece on the finer fluid motion of the golf swing. If you have shown past interest in this blog you will be fully aware of the key fundamental parts that make up the address and so able to reside backwards to further highlight its vital and demanding requirements.
In order to successfully grove and attain what I like to term a pure golf swing, then you must first fully appreciate the above key facets of impact and the vital importance of sound fundamentals in the address to best prepare yourself to successfully execute them.
GIVE UP CONTROL AND TRULY GAIN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!
FEEL THE FORCE, DON'T FORCE THE FEEL!!!!!!!!
With these key facets safely taken care of all one has to do is commit to the ART of a free flowing swing, one free of cluttered thoughts and completely submissive to the heavy weighted force of the golf club. We have all, at some point of our golfing lives fallen victim to the human instinct of CONTROL, its perfectly natural to feel the need for precise body movements when attempting to swing a long stick with a rather tiny weighted head in an effort to hit an even tinier little white ball towards a small hole. It sounds impossible, yes I agree and vaguely remember my first swipes as a youngster when determined to master the challenging nature of the game for the first time. All I wanted to do was make sure I didn't miss the ball, my instincts were all tuned to the delivery of the club head into the golf ball whilst trying to look like a kid making a swing vaguely looking like a golfer.
It was hard, and really challenged my thinking.
As Im certain it has and continually does your own.
So for the next few minutes please stop and think about the nature of your golfing thoughts when poised and ready to attack your last golf shot.
Were they of a NEGATIVE or POSITIVE nature?
Negative being: 'I can't miss this ball, I must hit it or I will look pretty stupid, I have to hit this one somewhere safe, I can't lose another ball'.
Positive being: 'Im going to commit to my target and execute the shot I see in my mind, it will be a smoothly accelerating series of movements that will blend together to form one fluid motion, I will take own of this shot with a graceful golf swing'.
If any of you can relate to the negative frame of mind then I guarantee that at some point you have been concentrating the bulk of your energy into the striking of the golf ball. In simple terms, you are more concerned with the hit than the actual result and flight of the golf ball. A moving image of your swing will highlight a short sharp, very tense looking action. This commonly seen and physically draining action appears to abruptly end its motion well before the arms and club have made it past the head and well before the body has managed to turn somewhere to a point aiming to the left of your target as the swing comes to an abrupt end. I would say you feel quite physically drained after about 30 minutes to an hour of hitting balls on the range and have days when you feel like throwing your clubs at a brick wall. You are not creating a free flowing swing, you are attempting to control the golf club through its every move in the golf swing as a result of fear from miss-hitting the ball and striking poor golf shots.
Well, its time you gave up caring about the ball and developing a golf swing that actually deserved the right to be called a swing. Remember the act of swinging is not an act of hitting, its a swing and a swing is a free flowing motion that demands total freedom of all its parts. Ok, I hear you saying the words CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL, this word is what defines us as golfers right? The games all about BALL CONTROL right?Yes it is, but what defines the swing as a swing is FREEDOM, total FREEDOM of the word CONTROL.
How does this figure?
Control is all in the address, its the fundamentals laid down so precisely in the address position that determine the level of control you ultimately display in the golfing swing. Aim the club face open, turn it closed, or miss-place the hands, align the shoulders left or the feet to the right, these kind of mistakes are what determine the level of control you will ultimately execute when it comes to the swing. You can't cheat the position you create in the address, its the closest you have to controlling your impact so get it right and the swing becomes a simple reaction of complex movements, intertwined to produce a fluid motion of all the bodies most efficient golfing movements. In short it becomes a reaction to a target, and through correct practice and execution of the fundamentals in the address you are free to simply swing the club towards the target without any need for compensatory in swing actions or thoughtful movements.
You are free to complete a PURE SWINGING ACTION.
So what's the secret?
If only it were that simple, well it is, only thing is it demands a level of dedication and commitment reserved for those driven to be the best. Well it's within us all and finding the level found in you is what this piece of writing is all about. You can either continue as you are, constantly searching for a short cut around your lack of discipline when performing the simple task of addressing the ball or you can respect and adhere to the fundamentals laid above and allow your human instincts to fly free in search of a free flowing, compensation free golf swing.
GIVE UP CONTROL TO PURELY GAIN IT.
Give it up, give what up???!!!!!!!
Give up the need to control the club through each and every possible and endless position the body creates when swinging the golf club up in the back swing, down in the through swing and around to the finish.
GIVE IT UP!!!!!!
You have it controlled before you swing, so now lets learn to swing it.
Assuming you have correctly applied the fundamentals accordingly, you will be standing with a neutral grip, your body lines of feet, knees, hips and shoulders aligned parallel to the left of the ball to target line with your knees slightly flexed to allow a balanced posture that leans you forward towards the ball from the hips. You will be essentially balanced with your arms hanging softly, directly below your shoulders. Your left arm will be straight though relaxed which shall position the left shoulder higher than the right. Your spine angle should now be leaning to the right which will allow your weight to favor your right foot. From this address position, when executed correctly, you are efficiently poised to swing the golf club up in the back swing with the arms as the body turns to the right in support and then down in the through swing as the body turns around and through to the target providing sufficient space for the club to swing nice and wide along the target line.
This is the natural grace exemplified in all pure swings of the past and present golfing greats, they all share the same common theme. One of pure swinging motion, free of in swing, mechanical mind frames and totally absorbed in conscious target motivated execution.
I shall leave you now with one simple thought.
When you throw or kick a ball, what is you only thought?
Allow me to tell you, quite simply, all you are thinking about is hitting your target, be it a goal, a person, a bin or a basket, all you are thinking is ball in a hole. Now if you want to get technical, the only thing you can think is what is the body reacting to? Thats right, its moving instinctively towards the target, your arm or your foot and your hand or your leg, they're reacting and moving in graceful time and with beautiful pace towards the object of your imagination. In short you are reacting towards a target.
GIVE UP THE CONTROL AND YOU WILL ULTIMATELY GAIN IT.
WHAT YOU SET IN THE ADDRESS IS WHAT YOU WILL ULTIMATELY GET.
SET IT UP POORLY AND YES! YOU WILL FOREVER BE SEARCHING FOR A SWING FULL OF COMPENSATIONS TO RECTIFY THE SHORT COMINGS OF YOUR ADDRESS.
FEEL THE FORCE OF THE GOLF CLUB AS IT SWINGS AND THE CLUB WILL ORGANISE AND DICTATE THE POSITIONS YOU HAVE SETUP IN THE ADDRESS.
SET THEM UP POORLY AND THE ACT OF A FREE SWINGING ACTION WILL FOREVER BE ONE OF RANDOMNESS.
If this all sounds to simple, then please go see a scientist and see what science has to say.
I KNOW WHAT IT WILL SAY AND BELIEVE ME, WHILE IT MAKES SCIENTIFIC SENSE, THE GOLF SWING WILL GIVE YOU NO TIME TO THINK ABOUT IT SO WHY BOTHER MAKING IT.
Enjoy your golf and see what the future holds.
Enjoy your golf./
Mr Bobby Jones, one of the purest swings the game has and no doubt will ever see.