The Secrets Of A Successful Swing
The golf swings of the best players in the world all look different. Rory McIlroy has a beautifully fluid and dynamic motion that is one smooth motion from taking the club away from the ball all the way through to the end of the follow through. Justin Rose looks more technically efficient and measured, which has an obvious backswing, momentary pause at the top before the downswing commences. Adam Scott is somewhere between the two and then throw in the slightly more unorthodox swing of someone like Jim Furyk and the perfect golf swing becomes somewhat of a grey area. Is one more correct than the other? These successful golf swings are all different because the people they belong to are all different, but they are all fantastic world class players. There are however five definite common traits in all of these players, as with all of the other top players in the world, which you can apply to your game to play better golf.
A simple ‘one piece’ move away.
Move the club away from the ball with your chest initiating the swing, which in turn moves the arms, hands, and club all away together. The club head will remain in front of your hands and the butt end of the club will stay pointing at the belt buckle. When the club shaft is parallel to the ground the clubface will be slightly inverted from vertical (image 1).
This is a key move which has a massive effect on the rest of the swing. Think of the golf swing as a chain reaction; if the first move is right, it will help set off a positive chain reaction for the rest of the swing. The first move is a very common problem area which can cause all sorts of problems during the remainder of the swing.
A good drill: belly button drill
Set yourself up with a good posture. Slide the club up through your hands until the grip end is secured into your belly button (image 2). Keep the grip end secured whilst you use your body to turn away from the ball. This will give the feeling of body, arms and club all working away from the ball as one without and individual hand or arm movement (image 3).
Let the club swing.
With the body controlling the move away this soon will provide momentum and energy to the arms and club. Although the body should continue to turn through the duration of the backswing, we also want the arms and club to be allowed to swing into position at the top of the backswing (image 4). Over controlling the club only encourages poor balance of the club and subsequent incorrect positions.
A good drill: football throws
Hold both sides of a football and take a good posture. Turn the body to start the backswing and allow momentum to be fed into the arms to throw the ball over your shoulder towards your would be target (ideally toward a wall or an open space and make sure it’s safe to do so!) You should soon feel that the body initiates the swing and seamlessly feeds energy to the arms to allow them to swing up and release the ball over your shoulder (image 5).
The sequence of the downswing plays a huge role in how the club is delivered into the ball. The common incorrect move is to start the downswing with the upper body which normally makes the club come ‘over the top’ meaning the club is thrown too far in front of the body. This causes a swing path that cuts left across through the impact area and creates a shot that can slice or a pull straight left.
The correct move from the top of the backswing is theoretically quite involved and should be simplified in terms of a swing thought that is useable during the golf swing. This thought should be to start the downswing with the lower body before the upper body turns and hits the shot. In the address position, make sure the left foot is turned outwards slightly, towards 11 O’clock in a clock face. Once the backswing is complete the first move should be to move the left knee in the same direction that the left foot is pointing. This will shift the weight into the ball of the left foot. This move will enable the club and arms to shallow in the downswing and create a club path that is more from the inside into the ball (image 6).
A good drill: Left heel off the ground
Lift your left heel of the ground at address. Make a back swing as normal keeping the left heel off the ground. At the top of your back swing feel the first move down is loading your weight into the ball of the left foot. Once the first move down has been achieved allow your heel to also ground itself and turn through to the finish position.
Hit with your strong side
With a great downswing move you’ll be in the perfect delivery position to really turn through the shot and apply full power. To do this we need to use the naturally strong side of our body. For a right hander, which I’ll base this on, that means the right side of your chest, right shoulder, arm and hand all move forward through the shot to enable the club head to accelerate freely through impact (image 7).
To get the right feeling through the ball, have a practice swing holding the club with your right hand only. Keep it nice and smooth and about a ¾ length back swing. From the end of the back swing, naturally turn the body forwards through the ball and you’ll feel that the left side of the body will turn out of the way first, which enables the right side to then move forward and through the shot and accelerate the club head.
A good drill: Reverse club right arm only
To accentuate the feeling of the right side of the body accelerating the club through the ball, grip your club upside down. Make a swing as normal but through the ball feel as the body opens fully to allow the club to make a loud swish noise through the air. The louder the swish the more speed in the club (image 8)!
Complete your swing
Keep your body turning through the shot all the way through to the finish position with 90% of your weight finishing on your left foot. The chest should finish facing left of the target with the club swinging freely into a position behind the back of your neck (image 9).Don’t listen to the old adage ‘keep your head down’ this restricts the body rotation through the ball and causes a lack of club head speed and poor balance. If you top the ball it will be for another reason, not because you decide to lift your head too early.
A good drill: Swing with two clubs
With the extra weight of a second club have a smooth practice swing keeping the club heads a few inches away from the ground. If you feel a jarring of the arms, this will indicate the arms and body are not working in sync. Turn the body back and let the clubs swing naturally over the shoulder then do the same for the through swing. With a full turn through, the clubs should come to a natural stop in a well balanced finish position (image 10).