So I’m walking thru this recycled book store as I often do with my daughter – and, as I often do, I went to the golf book section to see what words of advice I might scan thru and I came across an old book that talked about the Laws of the Swing. It’s called “The Laws of the Golf Swing” by Mike Adams. It’s an older book but it talks about body types and various golf swings.
The basic gist of it was – there are three basic types of physics for executing a golf swing and they are based on your body type. Many other bloggers (like Grateful G) have talked about how there are as many different types of swing set ups and such as there are batting styles or pitching styles or methods of striking a tennis ball etc.
But the reasoning behind it is as follows. If you’re taller and thiner than you are wide you’re a leverage player meaning you use height to generate power in your swing and your swing plane will be more up-to-down or vertical. You’ll arc your swing more than others and really reach behind you at the top of your swing. Think Bubba or other tall golfers. If you’re medium build you’ll have a different set up that is more fluid and circular. And if you’re like me – less flexible, shorter than most golfers (barely 5’10.5″), and stockier – you’ll generate more power by swing side-to-side – using your width and generating power laterally or horizontally. I was a little disappointed to have to come to terms with my body type but I tried some of the methods suggested for figuring out my body type such as folding my right arm with my thumbup and seeing if my thumb touched below, at, or above my shoulder plane – and it rang true. The tests in the book are pretty simple and quick to do. Plus I showed my wife the pictures of the different body types and she immediately identified me as the stockier wider type guy. Welcome to my middle-aged-dom right?
Anyway, as I read on it made sense. What it meant was I should disregard techniques and advice that try to make me swing very wristy or talk a lot about the top of the swing and such. I now know that a lot of the advice dished out in Golf magazine or even by pro golfers are for a body type that does not necessarily jive with mine.
I swing best when I swing like I’m doing tug of war with a rope that runs along the the target line. To go back to the baseball analog – If i were a pitcher I would pitch side-arm versus overhead or even at 10 o’clock. I much prefer and have better consistency when I cock my right arm at 3 o’clock and limit my backswing so I don’t have very much turn. If I were a batter, I would swing more like Babe Ruth – like I’m prepping to give someone an upper-cut in boxing – i wouldn’t hit the ball at the bottom of the batter’s box but would do better to swing at a fastball high because my batting plane would be much more horizontal so I would sway or float backward than forward.
The takeaways for me were to execute a very short backswing, pushing my club away from me backwards-directly opposed to the target with my left arm and tugging it away as well with my right – trying to push the circumference of my swing to create a horizontal oval shape versus an vertical one. I would bend at the hips and lean forward a little more to get around my somewhat wider chest which prevents me from effectively marrying my hands beyond a certain point during my backswing because to do so sorta forces me off-plane because I’m not very flexible anymore. So my swing is faster and shorter in length and looks like I use way more chest and arms than most people do but my plane stays consistent and I’m less likely to come over the top of the ball. It also means, I stand a little wider, have much less arc (even though I finish full swing and have no problem getting the club all the way around), and I place the ball just a little bit farther back than most – closer to center for my irons versus in-line with my left heel. It also means I need to flare my feet just a little (my left more so than my right) so I can add some turn to my hips beyond what my arms allow me. And I move my right foot back just a smidge to help clear my hips.
Still taking my lessons, I really didn’t want to add more adjustments to my repertoire and louse things up – but I went to the driving range to practice and I have to admit – the adjustments worked. I had more consistency and confidence and had a much lower tendency of chunking the dirt early or coming up over the top. I was striking 80% accuracy towards my target (within a margin of error of some 10-15 feet, aiming at a target 135-150 yards away using my 9 and 7 irons) and had only one shank out of a bucket of 50. Maybe the first time ever that has happened to me!!
The biggest thing for me was to consciously not try to overdue my backswing but to stop as soon as my left arm crossed my chest and lay horizontal. I also became more comfortable bending at the hips so my arms really hung like sausages instead of trying to mimic great erect posture like an Adam Scott or somebody. Let’s face it, many of those guys on the Champions Tour hang over the ball like gargoyles perched on a roof top more than some 20-something 360 degree swinging arch-angel.
So – I’m pleased with this finding. It tells me that: 1) I need to filter all those magazine articles and TV shows words-of-advice because often, I imagine, their talking to that younger more agile player than someone like me; 2) It’s worth the effort to keep digging for more information all the time because the more I learn the more likely I am to find suggestions that match me; 3) if advice is going to help me, it should generate fairly immediate and visible results. In fact, I remember Paul Azinger in one of those very same golf channel shows saying that if you don’t see fairly quick results from a word of advice (assuming you’re following them correctly) then just maybe it’s not great advice – for you.
Net net, my confidence in my swing just went up a notch. Here’s a picture of the book cover. Yes – I had to come to terms with the fact that I have a belly, and I’m not so flexible, and my chest gets in the way of my swing – but knowledge is power if you don’t take it personally I guess. Besides, I’m starting to run again and I should lose 20 lbs in no time – yeah, right. Famous last words. Every year, I tell my wife – “Just give me a month and Shazzamo! I’ll be back to my old self !!”
The key to success is self-knowledge sometimes.