Passionate golfers marvel at the power and distance professional golfers hit their drives. That’s what keeps us glued to the Golf Channel and weekly tournaments on TV. So where is all of that power coming from?
Professional golfers are athletes. They train a lot more than recreational golfers so don’t expect to hit those amazing long shots like Ernie Els or Rory McIlroy or John Daly. Strength, flexibility and technique are all major factors in their success in generating speed and distance. Technique is the only component where this blog will be focusing today. And GOLFSTR is designed to help you with muscle memory as well as technique.
So why does Ernie Els seems to swing with so little effort? Straight leading arm in the back swing is a key starting point. Rotation of the shoulders gives him added torque in his back-swing. Length of the back-swing is so important.
But the real reason why his swing looks so effortless is that his power comes from the rotation of his wrists as his arms reach the bottom of his swing. His wrists are accelerating the club from horizontal to the ground, through the ball and up to horizontal to the ground with very little movement of his arms. The club head is moving 95% further than his hands. You are seeing the effortless motion of his arms and losing sight of the whipping action of his hands and club head accelerating though the ball.
If you want to Swing Like a Pro (and Ernie), don’t release the hinge of your wrist until your arms start to approach the bottom of the arc in your swing. Ernie, like all great golfers, delays his wrist release. Others refer to it as lagging the release and snapping the wrist as if you are trying to throw a side arm pitch or skip a stone across water (more on this in the next blog). No matter how you want to visualize this just make sure that you don’t start your forward swing by releasing your wrist at the top of the back swing. Keep your leading arm straight and delay the wrist release. You will be amazed at your improved distance.
Many golfers limit the power of their swing by limiting the hinge of their wrist in the back-swing. The takeaway and back-swing must include a straight leading arm, lagging elbow near the ribs and a flat hinged wrist to generate power in the swing.
If you are having a problem hinging your wrist in the back-swing, you may want to try what we see in Dustin Johnson’s takeaway. As he starts his takeaway, he rotates his wrist to the right and hinges or cocks his wrist so that the club face is open (pointing vertical to the ground). By the time that his leading arm is horizontal to the ground his shaft is already cocked at a 90 degree angle to his leading arm. By doing this you don’t have to think about cocking the wrist at the top of the back swing.
I’m only suggesting that you try this to understand the ideal position at the top of your back-swing. Straight arm, club face open and shaft is 90 degrees to the arm. I’m not talking about a John Daly back-swing. Just limit your back-swing to the point where you still keep a straight leading arm or where GOLFSTR just starts to release off the back of your arm. You will be amazed by the power and results.
In time you need to incorporate the cocking of the wrist into your swing as a smooth motion in your back swing. The Dustin Johnson example is not for everyone as it can create other problems.
As an exercise for a beginner golfer using GOLFSTR, I encouraged her to open her club face and just rotate her club to 90 degrees before she started her back-swing [YouTube video]. This is an exaggeration of the Dustin Johnson takeaway but it will help you see how it helped her.
I am not a golf pro but much like Bubba Watson, I have developed my own swing. What was I thinking? Sure I have had lessons but I always fell back into my old habits of bending my leading elbow in the back swing and then coming over the top resulting in disaster.
My lesson at the end of 2010 (shown on the GOLFSTR website) clearly showed that I would never improve my game unless I put some real effort into making changes in my complete swing. Yes, I developed GOLFSTR to force me to pay attention to the straight arm in the back swing and this was a key starting point but I quickly recognize that the swing is a chain of events. There are so many things that can go wrong. I dropped my handicap when I realized that my swing is a work-in-process.
Introducing: YOUR SWING SUPPORT CENTER
GOLFSTR is just the starting point for your new and improved golf swing. This BLOG ( which we will soon be changing to: Your Swing Support Center) will provide supporting ideas to help you change your swing. Improving your swing requires much more than keeping your leading arm straight. Have you seen the tips in my blog about bent lagging elbow and wrist hinge (see Sergio Garcia) for more consistent hits and power? This blog will share the successes provided by others who are changing their swing to incorporate the STRAIGHT LEADING ARM.
It took me time to figure this out. Shooting wonderful golf on many holes is only a starting point. You need consistent golf for 18 holes for great scores. GOLFSTR just helps you focus on one KEY component but you need to be committed to making changes in your overall swing to “Swing Like a Pro”.
Aging bodies will never swing with the flexibility of a young pro but it is in your best interest to swing LIKE a pro. We will cover topics about the stance, swing plane, swing cadence, swing thoughts, swing lag and follow through.
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