I can’t help myself. I stare at golf swings all day long. I love watching humans alter their technique and improve their swing movements. I dream about it. It becomes increasingly apparent that golf swing improvement is both an art and science – similar to martial arts or any other refined human skill.
I posted this picture of Reed Howard’s backswing position before and after I worked with him. Both images are a result of our work together, and we finally refined it into the “after” you see in the picture.
You can see the distinct differences in the club position at the top of the swing. But I want you to pay particular attention to the body position that is creating this. On the before picture on the left, you can see a large space between Reed’s legs and his trail leg is locked out and straight. There is also a large gap between his arms at the top of the swing. While many of you would say that he looks right at the top, there is a significant amount of rotation created by the straight trail leg. This causes him to lean into his first knee, and his head (tilt of spine) would often move downward toward the ball.
For the sake of refining movement and always striving for the purity of technique, we changed Reed’s position at the top of the backswing. This is a crucial area I focus on with Reed because if he hits the position of the backswing correctly, he can reach impact more efficiently. The key word is efficiency. The player who catches the ball consistently is the one who gets to the proper club position at effects regularly. This is why I refine the movement of the swing so precisely.
When you refine your movement as Reed has, you achieve an ideal club position. You can see that in Reed’s old position, the club face is also more closed (facing the sky). This is due partly from his lead hand position and mostly from first arm rotation around his body.
Keep in mind that if there is a cause, there will be a compensatory effect. When I met reed, his club position at the top was closed, and he hit the ball very low. The first thing I asked him was “Do you always hit it that low. You can’t play the game running it that low unless every pin is in the center of the green. We need to change that.
By adjusting his backswing rotation (trail leg from over straightening), the torso rotated less. This produces less torso rotation and spine drop. He was able to match the plane of the shaft at the top of the swing as seen in the picture on the right.
When you compare to Moe, you see how Reed’s arm position is almost identical. The clubface is planned and the hand position at the top matches.
It is important to mention that refining your technique takes time and effort. It’s more than just practice. You must measure, evaluate and adjust. It takes participation and perseverance.
As Moe Norman said, “The Price is high, but the rewards are Richer.”
Now, go practice.