Random Observation on the Golf Swing & Weight Balancing

InStanceHipDown_igor-ovsyannykov-270958When instructors talk about shifting your weight during the swing, they’re really referring to shifting your pressure – as in the pressure points where you feet connect to the ground. This is why so often you might hear about the swing really starting from the lower body and the feet. Go ahead and Google videos on “foot pressure and the golf swing” and you’ll see what I mean.

When I hear ‘shift your weight’ invariably I try and move my body mass and center of gravity (which usually involves my head) laterally to the left or right – which isn’t comfortable and often makes the small of my back hurt. However, when I try to shift pressure points it’s all about where my weight presses against the ground in term of the ball of my feet and the heels and which foot.

So when I need to shift right, my body stays in the exact same place mostly but my left ankle relaxes and flexes up from the heel so that most of my pressure glides over to my right foot and rests between the big-toe ball and my inner heel. The more my swing goes back, the more the pressure transitions to the back of my right heel and my left foot goes into a mini high-heel position which may or may not also result in my left knee rising – much like a batter winding up to strike the ball. Shifting pressure points back left again is more footwork with a push off the right foot and a slight bend back to the front, while my left heel returns firmly down to the ground bracing itself for me to begin rotating around my left leg as an axis. All this coincides with a similar change in vertical-ness as far as my shoulder sockets go – because we all should be starting off with the right shoulder slightly lower than the left but during the backswing the right shoulder will switch height location with the left in a way that matches what’s going on ‘down-ground.’

But the huge AHA takeaway for me is – it is NOT about moving my shoulders and torso laterally from left to right or really about me feeling a lot of strain in my thighs but rather about this groove and shift between my left and right feet. That’s why the head needs to generally stay in place – even though many great pros like Jack Nicklaus actually move their head behind the ball when swinging through.

Observation #2. Golf is a lot of math and geometry. Golf is so much about circles and straight lines. Every round part of our bodies – from the balls of our feet and our ankle, to our knee sockets and hip sockets, to our arms and elbow and shoulder sockets – needs to rotate and un-rotate in sync to get that straight bone that’s connected to the socket in question to swing groovy and smoothly.

But when I think about the pressure thingy – the analog of the swing being more like bowling & throwing rings true for me. The way I rock before winding up to bowl a bowling ball and how I try to roll the ball onto the wooden floor works better than the image of trying to hit a baseball even if there are many similarities in the wind up and delivery.

Golf swings are also very unique for each individual depending on the measurements between all these round body parts as explained in the article which really shed more light on what my swing should be like. I started measuring myself – my wingspan, my forearm, etc., and I’m beginning to think that mine’s more of a swing that settles below the plain of my shoulders at the apex of the back swing versus above the shoulder line. And who knew? Many pros reach high points in their back swings that are either above, at, or below their shoulder planes as also described in this piece. It was very enlightening. And it makes sense – after all – every one has a different combinations on pant & inseam, neck and shirt sleeve and waist dimensions along with height dimensions. So what works for a tall golfer doesn’t necessarily translate for a stocky or long-armed or short-legged or whatever-dimension-ed golfer.

Now I won’t try to force myself to rotate so much and have my left wrist reach above my ears during the back swing – which is very uncomfortable. Instead I’m going to swing back in a way that more mimics a side-arm pitcher. I feel much more comfortable that way.

Glad to be back after many months away and hoping to get back into a rhythm. Happy Friday.

Royalty Free Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

Check it out. THE SWING PLANE EXPLAINED.

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What do I mean “I’m a Width Golfer?”

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.

And, next to it – another picture from a Paris Golf Poster that I’m thinking resembles my style as a width player.DSCN1264Laws of the Golf Swing

It Rings True – Part Trois

Quick note.

I went to the range on Saturday and got a bucket of 78 balls.

I tried my new posture.  I don’t have it down perfect but I swung using my new posture.  I think the tweaks I need to make are to make sure I don’t arch my back too much and I keep my arms hanging freely – which means I haven’t found the exact angle but I’m close.  The last Golf Digest I read (again the one with Rory on the cover) has a fix section that recommends leaning forward at about 30 degrees and letting the arms hand so the point just in front of one’s toes.  My belt buckle should point to just above the ball. (personally i think i place the ball too far away still – i putt looking almost straight down at the ball and i think i need to approach my swings the same way – maybe).

So – out of 78 balls, I hit maybe 5,6 or 7 pulls or slices.  Only one severe slice.  I knuckled a few times – again I need to better figure out where to place the ball and how erect to stand.  I did not concentrate on tempo or turning my hips like I should have.

But net net, everything else went straight and fairly accurate.  And I mean straight.  That means I would have placed the ball near where I wanted it about 75% of the time – not too shabby.  I was using a pitching wedge.  I consistently full-swung to about 100 yards (little less) and within 10 yard of a dead-grass patch on the range I was aiming for – because all the books say you’re wasting your time if you just flail at the ball without picking a target.  No I did not start trying to shape my shots – which is the true part of practicing at the range….. maybe next year – huh?.

So – there it is – truth doesn’t leave you hanging.  It is a beautiful thing.  Truth beauty, beauty truth.  I need to learn more – and that’s the other truth.  So truth must have something to do with confidence.

I think I’m onto something.  If the fix is true – it holds up.

So I am happy – I will continue down this path.

ThinQ Golf – Improve Your Mental Game Online

Stumbled across this from a fellow blogger – Sir Shanks Alot – gotta love the rapper blogger name fo’ sho’

ThinQ Golf purports to help with your mental game.  I am not endorsing it but it looks like a cool site – Small member fee (don’t like that part) but could be worth a gander.

Also here’s another site I think could be very informative on swing routines. (this one is just free good advice)

http://thinqgolf.com/

ThinQ Golf

ThinQ Golf

http://www.andrewricegolf.com/

Golf Practice Routines

So  I thought I needed to get a book or something or sit down and put my mind to what a good weekly/daily/monthly routine should be to improve my game.  I’m thinking I should re-establish some goals like establishing my handicap, getting to a point of comfort with my fairway irons and finally learning how to hit a driver consistently.

So I tooled around the web – usual operating procedure ya’ know and go figure <golf practice routines> yielded some good stuff.  I’ve captured one in particular for your reading pleasure.

Next I need to map out what i will do on what days for how long etc.  and what my drive-to deadline is.  I’m thinking New Years is a good goal post to re-assess my progress.

I’m currently on the train.  Not a bad day at work.  Usual stressors.  I think I’ll practice hitting my 7 iron in the front yard using that new net I haven’t used too much.  Weather – a nice 68 degrees and usual low-humidity liquid sunshine.

The Ultimate Golf Routine from WTAQ (?)  routine summary below

Putting:  (15 shots each…75 shots total)

3 foot circle (3 rounds of 5 balls surrounding hole at 3 ft…PW club is exactly 3 feet)

6 foot circle

9 foot circle

25 foot putt to inside 3 feet

50 foot putt to inside 3 feet

Chipping:  15 shots each (5 balls, 3 sets, 60 shots total)

2 yards off green to far side pin to inside 3 feet

2 yards off green to near side pin to inside 3 feet

5-10 yards off green to far side pin to inside 3 feet

5-10 yards off green to near side pin to inside 3 feet

Bunker and Pitch Shots:  (15 shots each, 60 shots total)

Green-side bunker shots to inside 5 feet

30 yard pitch to inside 10 feet

50 yard pitch to inside 10 feet

80 yard pitch to inside 10 feet

Range:  15 Shots Each (60 Shots)

Whatever your 100 yard club is shot at 100 yd pin to inside 10 yards

Whatever your 150-160 yard club is  shot at 150 yd pin to inside 10 yards

Whatever your 200 yard club is shot at 200 yd pin to inside 15 yards

Driver shot to inside imaginary fairway

THERE YA GO!!!  Make sure to record results and create success percentages in each category.  This should help your game incredibly!!

Day One – Decision Points Jan 01 To be a Serious Golfer

To commit or not to commit. Decide to go for a heart-felt life-long dream or at least what feels like one versus not-rocking the boat, steady freddy, play it conservative.

Is this a time to think like a dot-comer again now that it’s half time? Is it really about following your bliss still? Or is it time to put someone else first – or something else first? Or can you do both? If you plan it right?

To go for the Champions Tour or not? And if you go for it – what’s the time line?

Well – I think I’ll go forit – for many reasons – least of which I’ll regret it if I don’t try – just like everything else and at the very least it’ll force me to improve my game and get to a place where I feel good about it.

So, I’ll do it. I’ll begin stepping in the direction of playing in the Champions Tour somehwere between now and five years from now, preferably within 2-4, we’ll have to get tht down.

So step 1 is to set up a routine and goals and reading materials for 2014.