Less gives More
We often come across players who have spent multiple range sessions trying to maximize their distance by widening and lengthening their backswing length and arc and then attempting to unwind the whole sequence in the blink of an eye.
Sadly, most players adjusting these positions and moves, don’t see any noticeable improvements because of the increased number of miss-hits.
A more compact swing makes it much easier to return the club back to impact squarely. If we observe many of the players on the European Tour and PGA Tour, they are swinging the club shorter and keeping their weight more central rather than applying a lateral weight shift on to the back heel. This modern take on the golf swing allows them to manage their backswing moves, then as they initiate the downswing, they can create a downward pressure into the floor. This pressure is used to perform an extremely dynamic downward spring move (a squat). Finished off with a tremendous unwinding of the body, the arms and hands simply deliver a square clubface into and through the impact area.
This simple take on the golf swing is why we’re seeing an increase in first time winners on tour, players have a better understanding of their swings, simplifying their moves, reducing the activity of the club face through impact. In my opinion, that’s why we are seeing a regular change at the top of the standings with a different world number 1’s through the season.
Even though I will be referring to this compact swing as the ‘modern’ swing, the actual idea of being compact and consistent has been around for many years. Nick Faldo’s take on a simple body turn move in his backswing helped him feel more consistent.
Nick Faldo: “My ultimate goal was to build a swing that I could rely on under pressure, and by simplifying this early move I firmly believe that you can similarly enjoy a more repeating swing - one that rewards you with noticeably more solid and consistent ball striking. Turn & hinge that's my key thought as I prepare to move, and it's one that can help you to enjoy making a better swing more often”.
How do we achieve this?
It all start’s by obtaining a good ‘athletic’ posture with your hands on the opposite shoulders, with feet grounded to the floor, make a smooth controlled shoulder rotation to a short compact backswing position. As you have removed all the unwanted arm lift this backswing move will be quite short and tight. This drill will help you to feel compact with a strong base. We can use this drill daily to focus on how our body should be moving in the golf swing.
Get the body moving with this ‘Posture - Pivot’ drill.
The arms now have some freedom as they are less connected to your chest, retain some of the connection by feeling a slight pinching of rib cage with the inside of your biceps. This will ensure the arms don’t take over in the early part of the backswing.
Try this drill with your hands together in your usual grip position.
As the chest begins to turn, allow your right hip (right handed) to rotate around you so your weight will gradually move from a centered position to your back foot, then to the inside of your front foot and front knee. This is a ‘spiral’ weight shift and the center of your chest will still be located within the width of the stance. Remember to allow the right hip to rotate in the takeaway, it’s not the main source of movement but we are simply encouraging it to follow the chest rotation. This is a more ‘modern’ take on weight transfer. Previously, we may have been taught to move weight back on to our right heel, with tension through our right side. This technique still applies in many golf swings today but to keep things simple and compact, we are not allowing this move to happen on this occasion.
Starting with a central weight location then create a ‘diagonal’ body shape at the top of the swing, with reduced resistance/ tension in the right hip or knee.
This more modern, compact swing relies on body power rather than hand speed, the hands simply help set a strong and square clubface. We need to take finger bias grip that shows 3 knuckles on your top hand at set up. We are trying to achieve a flatter left wrist during the backswing, hinged but with a flat or “bowed” look to things. This will immobilize the hands, appearing that the wrists have done less, this is far from the truth though. The hands are working hard to retain this positions rather than having the freedom to hinge and cup the left wrist resulting in an ‘open’ club face.
Left hand grip, Left wrist position half way back and top of backswing.
Achieving a strong, balanced position at the top of the backswing with the left wrist securing a well-positioned clubface we can unwind into impact. Remember the hands are not your power source; they simply hold their position until your body has begun to unwind. By initiating your downswing from the floor up and not the hands, the plane of the swing will shallow and your balance point, moving onto the middle of your front foot. Then unwind the body and let the club swing into and through impact with passive hand action.
Downswing swing sequence – move onto left foot with hands and unwind the left side into impact.
Obviously, youth and flexibility will affect the dynamics of the swing, but all positions/moves can be achieved by golfers of all ages, ability and fitness level. It’s just the case of keeping it simple, compact and achieving a centered strike.
Simon Bates is the Senior Instructor at The Golf Studio in Lower Kingswood, Surrey.
For coaching enquiries contact Simon on 01737 833444 or email