So many trends in golf have an eye to the future, trying to reflect the cutting edge.
These trends, as far as instruction is concerned, mostly have to do with distance and intricate moves within the swing.
Having taught long enough to watch fads come and go, I enjoy seeing some things re-appear, or maybe they never disappeared?
I started playing golf in the mid 1970’s and a common piece of advice, from the all-time greats, was to “hit the ball with the back of your left hand, because it was the clubface.”
Also, “turn the clubface down,” was commonly heard. This reflected the rolling of the left arm, or supination. I speak about it in the book when I speak of “swinging the left arm” and the necessary timing with our body turn.
For a while, instructors advised (and therefore players tried) to maintain a cup in the back of their left wrist from the beginning of their swing and to the top of the backswing. It was reflected in the beginning of the swing with the clubhead staying way outside the hands, in a very delayed beginning to the circular swinging action, where the clubhead moved away from the ball well outside the target line.
An early checkpoint was, at waste high in the backswing, the leading edge of the club facing straight up or the toe of the club directly above the heel. I believe that was a product of the strong grip that many players used. That grip made a left forearm rotation necessary to avoid a closing clubface on the downswing.
If the cup in the left wrist remained until the top of the backswing, then they were free to drag the handle deeply into the downswing and this action would create a mostly controllable ball flight.
As clubhead speed still seems to carry a majority of focus, I am heartened by what I see as a positive trend that is a visit back to the “old school.”
I see players making correct use of their ¾ full swing (that I spoke about in the newsletter and video) and using the flat or bowed left hand position that reflects their left arm and clubface.
I can see the all-time greats, sitting on their front porch and shaking their heads. I can hear them saying, “we’ve been telling you for years, that the most reliable clubface matches the back of your left hand.”
With the shorter swing and higher speed, there simply is not time to recover an intricate hand position.
Now we see a clubface that looks a little hooded or closed, (it is NOT), is much easier to control. The lack of forearm rotation in the backswing is the elixir for many overly contrived backswing moves.
The earlier any aspect of our mechanics is in impact position, the harder we can swing and still maintain control of our ball flight.
DGA member John Davidson, a friend from Hilton Head, mentioned the way I advised (in the book), that I like to see a player feel their left palm rise into the backswing. It feels like pitching a golf ball straight up.
Once we learn to play with our elbows facing the ground, we have gone a long way to making a consistent swing plane and have set the stage for a very consistent transition into the downswing.
You will all hear me say, repeatedly, that early into position gives us all the things we hope for in our ball striking.
This month we focused on the role of our grip, position of our hands, the pressure of our grip, our release patterns and some drills to help us feel what we are learning.
I believe our golf swing begins at the top of our backswing. Positions we adopt at address, and the way we lift/swing the club up to the top, allow us to accelerate smoothly or forces us to repair weak positions before impact.
Our contact with the club is something we feel and should be constantly checking. It is the singular most important influence on our golfswing and ball flight.
As always, questions and comments that speak to our journey as Driven Golfers are welcome.
WHAT RELEASE FEELS LIKE
FEELING OF LEFT ARM AND HAND TO BEGIN DOWNSWING
PITCHING WEDGES- WEIGHT OF THE CLUBHEAD SUPPLIES THE FORCE
Michael Wolf, Certified Master Teaching Professional, has been playing golf for 46 years and teaching professionally for over 34 years. He has given over 30,000 golf lessons. Author of The Driven Golfer: Building Your Method For Scratch Golf. Harvey Penick Award Winner- 2016 (Top Instructor U.S./World Golf Teachers Federation)