Written by Dylan Bawden
Advanced PGA Professional Golfer BSc
“The average golfers problem is not so much a lack of ability as it is a lack of knowing what he should do.” Ben Hogan
To know what you are supposed to do to achieve a repeating powerful golf swing is what I would like to cover in this book. The problem with golf teaching is that it doesn’t give you the whole problem to be solved. It gives you bits and pieces of the solution with the assumption the whole solution will be arrived at.
This problem has been around in golf teaching and learning probably since golf began.
Percy Boomer writes in 1946 after starting the game in 1896, “This is not a book on the science of golf, but about learning it. Everything on the science of the game has been written, little on how to learn it.”
John Jacobs who is a renowned great teacher of golf pleaded with his readers not to copy the positions shown in a book because the swing is a one, free flowing movement, not static positions to move through one by one.
Henry Cotton an Open Champion wrote a little learning is a dangerous thing. This implied trying a little tip is of no use when you don’t know the whole idea.
In a professional golfers association conference it was said we know a lot about the swing but little on how to learn it.
It is ridiculous to think we can learn to write, read, run, kick and throw a ball, drive a car, play baseball but can’t learn to play golf. It is the fact that all of the above we know how to do, we just learned to them. The problem with the golf swing is that we don’t what to learn because it has never been presented to us. We usually get books that tell us keep a straight left arm, or keep your head down, or swing easy. We can all learn to do these things but with no effective results simply because they having nothing to do with the act of swinging a golf club effectively. The whole picture hasn’t been presented.
This problem hangs up on mans tendency to be scientific. I have written a dissertation for my degree which covers where this tendency comes from and why it is such a problem. It’s a big subject and it is not what I want to go in to right now. What I would like to do is highlight the problems and then offer a solution for you to work on.
This is a quote about technical writing which is what most golf teaching is.
“He’s unable to comprehend things when they appear in the ugly, chopped up, grotesque sentence style common to engineering and technical writing. Science works with chunks and bits and pieces of things with the continuity presumed, and DeWeese works only with the continuities of things with the chunks and bits and pieces presumed. What he really wants me to damn is the lack of artistic continuity, something an engineer couldn’t care less about. It hangs up really, on the classic-romantic split, like everything else about technology. Such personal transcendence of conflicts with technology doesn’t have to involve motorcycles, of course. It can be at a level as simple as sharpening a kitchen knife or sewing a dress or mending a broken chair. The underlying problems are the same. In each case there’s a beautiful way of doing it and an ugly way of doing it, and in arriving at the high quality, beautiful way of doing it, both an ability to see what ‘looks good’ and an ability to understand the underlying methods to arrive at the ‘good’ are needed. Both classic and romantic understandings of quality must be combined.
The nature of our culture is such that if you were to look for instruction in how to do any of these jobs, the instruction would always give only one understanding of quality, the classic. It would tell you how to hold the blade when sharpening the knife, or how to use a sewing machine, or how to mix and apply glue with the presumption that once these underlying methods were applied, ‘good’ would naturally follow. The ability to see directly what ‘looks good’ would be ignored.
Ben Hogan is respected as one of the best golfers of all time. His book, “Five lessons The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” has been acclaimed as one of the best books ever written on the golf swing and that what is taught today is no different to what he was saying then. The only problem with today’s teaching is that, just like the quote above implies, it deals with the bits and pieces of the golf swing with continuity presumed.
What I want to talk about that has been of great benefit to my students is the whole concept of the golf swing with the bits and pieces presumed. The bits and pieces become obvious once the entire concept is understood.
What is also very important is that Hogan spent 25 years working on his swing until he arrived at a solution that held up under pressure and won him many tournaments. He was self taught. The summit “for life long learning” made the following observations. Firstly, the best way to learn is when people teach themselves, and that self directed teaching accounts for 80% of all long-term learning. In other words encourage learners to find out for themselves. Michael Hebron said “When golfers start to see their swing and playing the game as riddles that they can’t solve, unfortunately many start looking outside themselves for answers”.
This is true but how can you learn something if you don’t know what you trying to learn. To pick something up or throw a ball is obvious to learn. The swinging of a golf club is not obvious unless you understand what you are trying to achieve. If Ben Hogan took 25 years to arrive at a solution then there is no harm in taking that solution and learn it yourself.
Hogan writes, “How then do you build a swing that you can depend on to repeat in all kinds of wind weather, under all kinds of presses and pressure? Having devoted the bulk of my waking hours (and a few of my sleeping hours) for a quarter of a century to the pursuit of the answer, I now believe that what I have learned can be of tremendous assistance to all golfers. That is my reason for undertaking these series of lessons. I do not propose to deal in theory. What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced in all kinds of pressure. To put it briefly, the information I will be presenting is a sifting of the knowledge I’ve tried to acquire since I first met up with golf when I was 12 and knew, almost immediately, I wanted to make the game my life work.
I will probably keep on studying golf all my life, but I honestly feel that I have now acquired a sound understanding of the game that will be of real value to all golfers. How I wish I had known what I know today when I was a youngster just starting out!”
Pirsig writes, “The solutions all are simple- after you have arrived at them. But they’re simple only when you know already what they are”.
It is this solution I want to discuss.
Hogan finishes his book by saying, “The material presented in this book, as I said at the beginning, amounts to a sifting of the knowledge I have picked up during my 25 years as a professional golfer. I am hopeful that these lessons will accomplish two things. First, I trust they will greatly increase the average player’s enjoyment of this incredibly fascinating game by enabling him to become a real golfer with a sound, powerful, repeating swing. I feel sure they will do this for any player who gains a clear understanding of the fundamental movements (which we went into in the first four lessons) and who will then continue to practice and familiarise himself with these fundamentals throughout this golf season.
And second-I hope that these lessons will serve as a body of knowledge that will lead to further advances in our understanding of the golf swing. Every year we learn a little more about golf. Each new chunk of valid knowledge paves the way to greater knowledge. Golf is like medicine and other fields of science in this respect. In another 15 years, just as there will be many new discoveries in medicine based on and made possible by present day strides, we will similarly have refined and extended our present day knowledge of golf.”
Unfortunately this has not been the case. I see students everyday working on bits and pieces with no clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve. The teachers have no idea what to say or do because they themselves don’t know what the golf swing is. They look for something that doesn’t look right and tell the student, maybe you should try this. People try to learn and teach golf in exactly the way quoted above without the overall problem presented. It is presented in bits and pieces with the continuity presumed.
There are a few people in the world who have also written about this problem who I will cover in this book.
Larry Miller played on the P.G.A Tour in the mid – seventies. He has taught for twenty-one years at golf clubs all over the United States. He calls present day instruction and instruction before, ‘fragmentation’. This is the teaching of fragments of the motion portions of the swing. Or as I have said bits and pieces. He believes that this instruction is fundamentally and universally ineffective. The motion parts of the golf swing cannot be worked on because they happen too quickly. An experiment was conducted to prove this. Several tour players were asked to hit drivers (the swing with the longest arc and longest elapsed time) and were told to abort their swing when they saw a strobe light flash placed on the ground. They could not see or anticipate the light’s random flashes. Not one player was able to abort the swing after the club head had travelled more than two feet from the address position. The experiment concluded that these top performers swung too instinctively for the mind to alter it once under way (Miller 2000:10).
Kendal McWade is a golf teacher who also recognizes this problem and writes, “There is no other sport that is learned in this manner and neither should golf. Imagine reading a 'How To Book' on riding a bike before you got in the saddle. It would describe the angle of your legs, head position, pedaling action etc. etc. Certainly the most interesting section would be the explanation on how to balance. You would just get the kids to learn all the necessary positions and that would be it, they could ride.
I am sure you would agree that this is nonsense.
We all know that is no way to learn to ride a bike. It's about doing it. Getting on, falling off and getting on again. We learn to ride by experience and developing the feel of how to do it. Once you can ride a bike you don't know how you do it, you just can.
Unfortunately golfers still believe that there is a secret, a magic position or move, and once they get it then everything will be fine. They read about how to do it, watch how to do it and even listen how to do it, but they still can't do it. Why? Well, because, that's not how you learn.”
Jim Mclellan teaches in America at his own schools and believes the swing should be taught as a whole, free flowing, relaxed swing. He believes to try and control the swing through positions and thinking destroys the swing.
“99.9% of golf instruction is utter nonsense”
(Jim McLellan 2003)
In 1935 one of the best golfers in history, Bobby Jones, wrote;
“When I am hitting the ball well, I feel no shock at contact because the club is swinging freely. I am making no effort to lash through with the clubhead.”
Jonathon Yardwood who teaches two of the best young golfers (Aree Song & Naree Song) in the world teaches his students by throwing a ball or hitting a baseball, as these activities are almost identical with hitting a golf ball.
“So much is written about the details of the backswing that it is easy to become bogged down to the point where you really do suffer ‘paralysis through analysis”.
(Jonathon Yardwood 2003)
Masters Champion, Sam Snead once wrote,
“Thinking instead of acting is the number one disease in golf.’
In Micheal Murphy’s book, Golf in the Kingdom, he explains how a man named Horace Ziparelli, an Italian amateur, is trying to become Homer Kelleys’ Golfing Machine by memorising the whole book and practicing it. It has a Star System of Geometrically Oriented Linear Force (or G.O.L.F). This makes the golf stroke have twenty four basic components, among them grip, plane line, plane angle, address, hinge action, pivot, shoulder turn, hip turn, hip action, knee action, foot action, left wrist action, lag loading, power package assembly point, power package loading action, power package delivery path, and power package release, each of which has from three to fifteen variations. The golf stroke has twelve sections through which every one of its twenty-four components must be tracked to be given its ‘full recognition, application and continuity’; it also has three zones of action ‘occurring throughout the twelve sections’. Here are some passages quoted from the book which, not surprisingly, has diagrams.
“The hand relationship is invariably established at impact fix (7-8) with
1.the left arm and club shaft in-line (4-D, 6-B-3-0-1)
2, the right forearm ‘on plane’ (7-3, 6-B3-0-1)
3.the back of the flat left wrist and the lag pressure point (6-C-2-0) both facing down the angle of approach (2-J-3). Otherwise, per 7-3, both must face down the right forearm impact fix Alignment (alternate target line) regardless of the true angle of approach (2-J-3, 7-5).”
“Because of the dominant role of accumulator 3, golf strokes are very dependent on the right elbow activity deriving from its locations and the nature of the subsequent right arm participation. The elbow must always be someplace and as there are only three definable locations, there are three major basic strokes – punch, pitch and push.”
“The proportion of the separation rate to the approach rate expresses the elasticity involved, and is called the coefficient of restitution which is 80% when using better golf balls – but drops below 70% at high speeds. Of course, this is assuming there is no Compression Leakage (2-C-0).”
(‘Homer Kelly 1983’)
Murphy’s description of Ziparelli’s swing is an ‘act of dismembered unity’ or simply a triumph of self-interruption. Between address and finish it could be seen that there were five barely perceptible pauses. Calling it to memory it reminded him of golf books with long rows of photographs depicting the phases of famous swings. It was a series of freeze frames. Ziparelli finally became paralysed unable to start his swing and therefore retired to the clubhouse from the tenth fairway.
Strangely, Homer Kellys book was based on Ben Hogans book. I think you will agree that considering what Hogan said about the hope of advancements being made the approach Mr Kelly has made is disastrous. What I have to say after basing it on Ben Hogans book and the success of hundreds of students of mine I believe will be of much better assistance.
So to get started I want to use some examples of Hogan’s book and what he was saying and introduce how it fits with the whole problem. Notice the technical writing and that if you are beginner of the game it would probably be meaningless.
“The turning of the hips back to the left initiates the downswing. This movement of the hips automatically lowers the arms and the hands to a position just above the level of the hips. In the chain action of the downswing, the hips are the pivotal element. The turning of the hips to the left releases the body, legs and arms in a cohesive movement to the left. As it enters the swing, each component adds its contribution to the ever-increasing speed and power of the swing. In this chain action, the shoulders and the upper part of the body conduct the multiplying power into the arms. The arms multiply it again and pass it onto the hands. The hands multiply it in turn. As a result, the clubhead is simply tearing through the air at an incredible speed as the golfer hits through the ball.”
“A golfers power is originated and generated by the movements of the body. This power is transferred from the player’s body to his arms and then to his hands. It multiplies itself enormously with every transfer, like a chain action in physics.”
“There is one other aspect of this first part of the swing that we should take up at this time: the plane. Over the period I’ve been in golf, oceans of words have been devoted to the arc of the swing but only the merest trickle to the plane. This is unfortunate, for in the dynamics of the golf swing the plane is extremely important, far more important than the arc.”
“On the backswing, the plane serves the golfer as sort of a three dimensional roadmap. His shoulders should rotate on this plane, continuously inclined at the same angle (with the ball) they established at address. En route from the address to the top of the backswing, the arms and hands (and the club) should also remain on this same angle of inclination as they swing back. (use your left arm as your guide.) When your shoulders, arms and hands follow the appointed route the plane sets up, it insures you that your upper body and arms will be correctly inter-aligned when they reach that crucial point where the backswing ends and the downswing begins. Then, when the downswing is inaugurated by the hips and the turning hips unwind the upper part of the body, the shoulders and then the arms and then the hands flow easily and powerfully into the swing. In other words by staying on his backswing plane, the player pre-groups his forces so that each component is correctly geared to work with the other components of the downswing. The energy of the hips, shoulders, arms and hands will be released in that correct order, and the perfect chain action results. He can put everything he has into the shot.”
“However, for the golfer with the correct swing who pre-arranges his chain action by staying on his backswing plane and storing his power properly, golf is a tremendous pleasure. He reaps the full rewards for the effort he pours into it.”
“After you have initiated the downswing with the hips, you want to think of only one thing: hitting the ball. I don’t give as much as a passing thought to how the face of my club will contact the ball. Consciously trying to control the face of the club at impact is folly. You cannot time such a delicate and devilish thing. It happens too fast, much too fast.”
“As I explain to my audiences at golf clinics, the correct hitting motion is one unbroken thrust from the beginning of the downswing to the end of the follow through. There are a few other points related to the impact area and the follow through that we should discuss now. Most of these points concern themselves with correct positions-positions which a good golfer moves into naturally if he starts his downswing by turning his hip and then simply hits through to the finish of his swing in one unified motion. As you practice, don’t try to force yourself into these positions. They’re part and parcel of the chain action. You’ll move into them if you execute the fundamentals properly.”
Now that you have read these extracts I want you to think of the term CENTRIFUGAL POWER.
Think of having a piece of string with a stone attached to it and then start spinning it around and around above your head and you will find that you are producing centrifugal power. Now if you read back over the Hogan extracts can you see that what he is in effect saying is that his backswing is a wind up to turn back through the ball which causes centrifugal power in the clubhead. The chain action he calls it. The plane he talks about is simply a circle that the club swings on around the spine. The reason it worked so well for him is that you cannot produce centrifugal power unless the object is swung around on a circle.
So can you now see that by understanding what you need to do which is to produce centrifugal power in the clubhead by swinging it on a circle using your body all the bits and pieces, or fragments just happen. You just do them. That is the whole problem which needs to be solved right there. The chain action, the plane, starting with the hips is to produce centrifugal power that ends in the clubhead.
Here is another example of centrifugal power.
Think of a shot putter who uses all of his muscular thrust to throw a shot putt. It goes about 50ft. Now think of the hammer thrower who spins around and around and around generating tremendous centrifugal force and then releases the hammer at the point he has generated as much centrifugal power as possible and it goes almost five times further than the shot putt. It is this power that is available to you in the golf swing. And it is this power that Ben Hogan is discussing even though he never mentioned centrifugal power in his book. But what I will do is show by comparisons in producing centrifugal power that that is what he was doing.
To hit at the ball with all you muscle is what many golfers do with little success. Once you get the idea of generating centrifugal force into the club head by swinging it on a circle around your spine you’ll understand what you are trying to achieve. And it is this understanding that will help you achieve all the bits and pieces you have probably heard from teachers or friends without thinking about them. They are all a chain action, part of one free flowing movement not some start stop, tense struggle to hit a golf ball. All of my students have understood this and almost immediately get the feeling of letting the club do the work by simply swinging it on a circle. Ofcourse it takes practice but at least they know the goal. In other words what they are doing has meaning.
Some comments from my students go like this:
I’ve been playing this game twenty years and have had many golf lessons and have never heard that before, but now you have explained what I am suppose to do it makes so much sense.
I always thought you had to have a straight left arm but it is so obvious you cannot swing or generate centrifugal power with a straight left arm or anything tense for that matter, it is simply impossible. But now the swing feels good and effortless.
Hogan writes, “Naturally, there must be some suppleness, some break in your left wrist. After all, it is a hinge. In general, then, though the left arm should be straight, this doesn’t mean that it should be locked at the wrist or elbow or be any place as stiff as the arm of a robot. No, this is a very pleasant game, and unnatural straining isn’t at all necessary, or desirable. A bad swing is drudgery. A good swing is physical pleasure.”
Yes I can feel the weight of the club is so much heavier when I swing it around my spine and I can hardly feel the ball when I connect with it. It feels great, before it always hurt to hit the ball because I was so tense and obviously not generating centrifugal force.
I have heard about the plane before but it never really made any sense. I just thought I had to get by club into these angles my teacher told me and my swing would work. But it never did. Now you have explained centrifugal power it makes so much sense to me. It is simply swinging the club on a circle. And all the moves I make are simply to achieve that.
I have never hit the ball so far and effortlessly in my life. To think I have spent so long working on all those things my teacher told me is very frustrating.
Like Hogan said, if only I knew then what I know now.
And that is the most frustrating thing for me to see and hear. It frustrates me tremendously to see a group of golfers having a lesson and the teacher is telling them, for example, to keep their arms straight as possible throughout the swing. They simply cannot swing the golf club with straight tense arms. I have had students come to me with bandages on their elbows from trying to achieve swinging with straight arms. There are hundreds of other instructions I have heard such as cock your wrists immediately in the backswing, make the face of your watch face eastwards, left shoulder down and then right shoulder down, imagine you are throwing a bucket of water, the list goes on and it is all disastrous when you consider the idea is to swing the club head. I can see the frustrations on the students faces due to the uncomfortable movements they are doing which there teacher has told them to do and the consequent results. This gives them the impression they are useless at golf and will never learn it. I sometimes hear them say, “I think I will stick to Tennis.”
Timothy Gallwey, writer of ‘The Inner Game of Golf’, says,
‘On the golf range I sees few examples of natural learning taking place. Instead, a lot of interference with natural learning can be seen. People are working harder than necessary for results and few seem to be enjoying the process. Faces are contorted in frowns of self-contempt and frustration. Each shot is judged, and each ‘bad’ one is analysed for the mechanical causes of error; then more strain goes into forcing the body to ‘do it right’ on the next shot. Tightness and awkwardness are more the rule than the exception, and soon seem normal to the average golfer. If it were not for the lure of the game itself, learning golf would be no more popular than most classroom learning is for high school students.’
Hogan writes, “It really cuts me up to watch some golfer sweating over his shots on the practice tee, throwing away his energy to no constructive purpose, nine times out of ten doing the same thing wrong he did years and years back when he first took up golf. This sort of golfer obviously loves the game or he wouldn’t be out there practicing it. I cannot watch him long. His frustration-all that fruitless expenditure of energy-really bothers me. If he stands out there on the practice tee till he’s 90, he’s not going to improve. He’s going to get worse and worse because he is going to get his bad habits more and more deeply ingrained.”
M.Scott Peck a famous psychiatrist wrote in one of his books about golf;
From talking to others who have taken lessons, either as children or adults, Mr Peck gets the impression that many teaching pros are not very good teachers. He doesn’t find this surprising because the problem is inherent in their role, which is to teach golf. Wanting to make damn sure that their pupils get their money’s worth they over teach (Peck 1999: 154).
‘It might help to pity the poor golf pro. He is in a bind. Among other things, chances are he received no training in the subject of teaching and learning……..I imagine golf professionals mostly receive instruction in how to analyse what’s wrong with a person’s swing’
He goes on to describe a typical golf lesson, which is basically the bits and pieces or fragmentation discussed earlier and says that the problem with this type of teaching is that it can create not only an aversion to golf lessons but an aversion to golf itself (Peck 1999: 155).
It is not the inability of the golfer it is the lack of knowledge of what to do. And as for the golf professional teacher with the exception of a few it is not a lack of knowledge about the mechanics of the golf swing. It is the lack of knowledge of explaining what the pupil is supposed to achieve.
By discussing the circle and centrifugal force I have had hundreds of students prove that once they know what they are suppose to do they can do it with dramatic improvement and consequent enjoyment of the game.
This doesn’t just go for my students. It goes for Ben Hogan’s’ friends and himself.
“Quite a few of my friends have told me that once they got the idea of the plane into their heads, it worked wonders for them. Like nothing else, it got them out of their old bad habits and made correct movements come so naturally they could hardly believe it. I can believe it. I really never felt that my own back-swing was satisfactorily grooved, or could be satisfactorily grooved, until I began to base my backswing on the concept of the plane. Up to that time-this was in 1938-I had been struggling along with a backswing that was a lot less uniform and, consequently, a lot less dependable than I wanted it to be. I began to wonder whether or not I could find a set slot for the club to hit at the top of the backswing. Then, if I could swing the club into the slot on every swing-well that would solve my problems of inconsistency. I began to think more and more about the golfers plane. After some experimentation, I found to my enormous relief that, if I swung back along this plane, my club would, in effect, be travelling up a set slot throughout my backswing, on swing after swing. I practiced swinging on this plane and started to gain confidence that my backswing was reliable. It helped my whole swing, my whole game, my whole attitude. I can honestly say that for the first time I then began to think that I could develop into a golfer of true championship calibre.
It is also not a tip or a gimmick that so many teachers, books and videos give that doesn’t tackle the whole problem. Tips and gimmicks are just pieces of the whole thing, like fragmentation as discussed earlier. And as already discussed they are meaningless without the overall problem presented which is why so many golfers are frustrated at trying a given tip with no longstanding success.
‘Ready to try anything ……..the golfer finds his hopes rising as he hits a few good shots after trying a given tip. ‘The secret is dropped after a few poor shots occur and hope wanes. Soon the golfer is open for the next tip.’
It is the intention to produce centrifugal power that causes you to do it right. All the bits and pieces take care of themselves. It is just like walking down the road, driving your car, riding a bike, you know what you want to do so you just do it. It goes without saying you had to learn to do these things but at least you knew what to learn. You didn’t sit in your car for the first time and the instructor said bend your leg like that, bend your wrist like that now move your forearm over hear while holding the gear stick like that. No you simply learned to drive the car. That is exactly the same with golf. You learn to swing the golf club head around your spine producing centrifugal power.
Another good example is written by Bob Toski and Davis Love Jr, “Bob or Davis will ask a student to toss a ball at an outstretched hand. Nine times out of ten the student will hit the hand with the ball on the first throw. It’s uncanny how accurate students are. Then Davis will say, “That was pretty good. But how would like to do better?” “Oh sure,” the student says. And Davis will say, “OK, this time make a small backswing with your wrist before you start to throw the ball, then get your arm into it. As you are about to release the ball, repeat that sequence. Move the arm first and then flip the ball with the wrist. Hold it lightly. Now, go.” If that second ball comes within five feet of us it’s a miracle. By then we’ve filled that student’s brain so full of mechanical thoughts that he’s completely lost the feel of his throw.”
Okay, now all that has been covered let me now explain in a few simple lessons, if you haven’t already worked it out for yourself after reading this so far, how to effectively produce centrifugal power with a golf club.
Going back to the stone on a rope that you are spinning around and around above your head. Notice that you spin it with your hand. The force is generated by your hand and ends up in the stone. In the golf swing it is the your shoulders and hips that act just like your hand. Remember Hogan’s quote, “A golfers power is originated and generated by the movements of the body. This power is transferred from the player’s body to his arms and then to his hands. It multiplies itself enormously with every transfer, like a chain action in physics.”
Notice that the stone becomes heavier as it spins around and around and is pulling the string outwards. In the golf swing the clubhead swinging around your spine will become heavier and will be pulling your arms and hands outwards. Once that is understood it essential to explain the importance of how to hold the club. Hogan said the grip is the heartbeat of the swing. This is true because if yours hands are not holding the club correctly the club head will connect with the ball incorrectly. Because your hands and arms are pulled outwards by the centrifugal power in the clubhead they will be pulled into a clapping position at the point of impact. This is because when you let your arms and hands relax they naturally hang facing each other. So when holding the club it should become obvious that having the hands facing each other they will be pulled into this position everytime without any conscious manipulation. The swing takes care of itself.
Okay, now standing tall with your spine vertical hold your golf club out in front of you with your upper arms resting again the sides of you chest. Using your shoulders, as if they were your hand when spinning the stone on the string, start creating centrifugal power in the clubhead by turning to the right and then back around to the left. Keep turning and turning. You should naturally learn to do this and should find it a simple task. And it is.
Notice how your right arm folds as you turn to the right and your left arm folds as you turn back around to the left. Notice your wrists hinge naturally with no conscious thought. Notice the more relaxed your arms and hands are the more centrifugal power you can create as your turn back and forth. Notice the clubhead getting heavier and as you get better at doing this you should notice that your clubhead is swishing through the air. Notice how the clubhead is swinging around back and forth on a circle. This is the plane that Hogan talked about.
You have now learned to swing the golf club simply by turning and turning. How easy was that? A professional I use to work with in 1992 said, “Dylan the swing is simple it is just two turns and a swish.” I didn’t understand what that meant then but it makes perfect sense now. That is a perfect example of a piece of information being meaningless until the whole concept is understood. If my pro had said produce centrifugal power with your clubhead by turning and turning I would have understood it because it has meaning. It makes sense.
Now the next step is take the circle you have created which is parallel with the ground and incline it to the ground where you golf ball will be lying. This is the easiest way to understand the swing plane Hogan talks about. It is simply a change in the angle of the circle due to the change in angle of your spine. The circle is now at an angle and lowest point should be brushing the floor where you golf ball will be.
Now continue to do what you were doing when standing tall in this angled position. In other words turn and turn back and forth creating centrifugal power in the clubhead. Keep the clubhead travelling on the circle and you will quickly understand the importance of the plane. It simply enables the chain action to occur. Remember what Hogan said, “On the backswing, the plane serves the golfer as sort of a three dimensional roadmap. His shoulders should rotate on this plane, continuously inclined at the same angle (with the ball) they established at address. En route from the address to the top of the backswing, the arms and hands (and the club) should also remain on this same angle of inclination as they swing back. (use your left arm as your guide.) When your shoulders, arms and hands follow the appointed route the plane sets up, it insures you that your upper body and arms will be correctly inter-aligned when they reach that crucial point where the backswing ends and the downswing begins. Then, when the downswing is inaugurated by the hips and the turning hips unwind the upper part of the body, the shoulders and then the arms and then the hands flow easily and powerfully into the swing. In other words by staying on his backswing plane, the player pre-groups his forces so that each component is correctly geared to work with the other components of the downswing. The energy of the hips, shoulders, arms and hands will be released in that correct order, and the perfect chain action results. He can put everything he has into the shot.”
Notice that you will be doing all that simply by swinging the clubhead on a circle. Notice you right arm bends and the wrists hinge naturally in the backswing and the left arm bends and the wrists hinge on the through swing. Notice the clubhead getting heavier the more centrifugal power you produce. Notice how relaxed your arms and hands and wrists are. Notice how it is impossible to do this with stiff arms and wrists.
By doing this exercise your are learning a powerful and repeating swing. You simply turn and turn and everything happens naturally. All the bits and pieces the fragments just happen as they should. And you should of have done this in less than half an hour.
One last important part, and that is starting the turn back through with the hips. When you get to the top of your backswing by starting with the hips you initiate the downswing. It will start the shoulders then the arms then the hands in that order and that is what Hogan was talking about, “The turning of the hips back to the left initiates the downswing. This movement of the hips automatically lowers the arms and the hands to a position just above the level of the hips. In the chain action of the downswing, the hips are the pivotal element. The turning of the hips to the left releases the body, legs and arms in a cohesive movement to the left. As it enters the swing, each component adds its contribution to the ever-increasing speed and power of the swing. In this chain action, the shoulders and the upper part of the body conduct the multiplying power into the arms. The arms multiply it again and pass it onto the hands. The hands multiply it in turn. As a result, the clubhead is simply tearing through the air at an incredible speed as the golfer hits through the ball.”
It is a chain action. It is centrifugal power. It is logical. And so many of my students have said, “its obvious when you know what you are suppose to be doing.”
The other great thing about knowing what you are suppose to be doing is that my students learn by themselves, they say things like, “now I understand the importance in rhythm and tempo, it’s a swing,” “yes I can really feel the softer I hold the club the easier it is to swing it on the circle,” or “if I keep my upper arms close to my chest it is easier for my arms to follow my turn back and forth,” these are all tips that pros teach but they are meaningless without knowing what they are for. But my pupils learn the meaning of them simply by knowing the whole idea of the golf swing.
So go out and practice swinging the club head on a circle generating as much centrifugal power that you can and you will learn to swing with a powerful repeating swing.
I hope what I have written makes sense and that you can see how it ties in with what one of the greatest players of all time wrote. I also hope you will understand that learning bits and pieces of the swing is futile and that learning the whole swing you do all the necessary actions without even thinking about them. Like Jim Mclellan said the swing takes two seconds to do. How could I possibly instruct my body to do things in two seconds.
Bobby Jones wrote, “the golf swing is a most complicated combination of muscular actions, too complex to be controlled by objective conscious mental effort.”
So go out on the golf course or practice area and be a good centrifugal power maker.