“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein (Physicist)
There is a multitude of golf instruction books published every year by authors eager to share their knowledge and experience to a thirsty crowd of amateur golfer’s searching for the elusive secrets to unlock their golf swing from its shackles.
Still others enroll in golfing school to learn how to control their badly behaved ball flight. With all the golf books and golfing schools you’d think that golfer’s would be starting to get on top of their game and reap the rewards of their efforts.
But you would be wrong.
Nope, sad as it is, most golfer’s just aren’t improving, even with all the information available to them. Do they care? I believe they do care a lot. I also believe that if the average golfer could develop a better understanding of what’s important in a golf swing from what’s not they would make consistent progress… in the right direction!
In this article I want to share with you the some of the critical alignment check points that I use when working with PGA tour golfers and LPGA golfer’s. These alignments are just as important in your golf swing as those of pro golfer’s so I hope you gain some new insights into what makes your golf swing more reliable and in turn you increase your golf confidence.
The following set of photographs is of one of my professional students He Yong Choi (Pronounced ‘HayYong’) who is one of the up and coming stars on the Korean LPGA tour. I have helped He Yong to increase her distance from the tee and develop a more penetrating and straighter ball flight on her irons by focusing on three important aspects of her golf swing.
1. That her golf club maintains its relationship to the plane it started on
2. That the maximum force is applied at the right time in the downswing
3. That the clubface rotates the correct amount in the backswing and through swing
Under each photo I’ll describe the instruction process to you and offer helpful advice on how you can develop and improve your golf swing technique using these pro golf swing keys.
BODY IN BALANCE
In the address position you need to establish a sound base of support so your golf swing can remain stable during the backswing and forward swing phases. I teach my students to build a balance triangle formed from the inside ankle bones to a central point just below the navel. I want them to keep their upper body mass over this triangle as much as possible during the golf swing. I explain how a ferris wheel can only operate if it has a stable base of support.
The other important relationship to understand is that the centre of the shoulders should maintain their position in relation to the centre of the pelvis durng the backswing and forward swing.
GOLF CLUB IN PLANE
I explain to my students that “the swing plane gives force a direction.” In the mid-backswing phase of the golf swing the goal is to get the handle end of your golf club to point as close to the base of the inclined plane as you can. Since a golf club is built on an inclined plane it should maintain its relationship to its plane angle throughout the golf swing.
ALIGNED AND READY
At the top of the backswing two things are common in a pro golf swing. The first is that the upper body is still on top of the balance triangle, and two, the golf club has maintained its relationship to the base of the inclined plane. (white line)
THE MYSTERIOUS RIGHT ARM
The right arm’s participation is very misunderstood in the golf swing. Pro golf swing’s use the right arm skillfully because it provides the golf club with direction and supplies it with the energy to drive the golf ball powerfully down the fairway.
There are two thing’s to focus on in the photo above. In the left photo notice how the right forearm is in plane with the golf ball? This alignment is critical if you want to hit longer, more powerful golf shots. In the photo on the right notice how the right elbow has advanced the hands past the golf ball? This ensures that the angle of attack of the club head will be steep enough to produce a divot in front of the ball, and that the energy in the club head is released as late as possible.
IMPORTANT POST IMPACT CHECK
Just after impact the golf club ideally aligns itself with the left shoulder as the left photo displays. The key here is that the left arm and club shaft are in line well beyond impact. He Yong is at least 60 centimetres into the follow through and has maintained the club head to left shoulder relationship. The other thing to keep in mind is that the golf club has maintained its relationship to the base of the plane which is displayed in the top left photo.
FULL ROLL IT
As the golf club travels towards the finish it must maintain it’s relationship to the plane it started on. To do this the golf club rotates or rolls over until the club face points towards the ground. The centipetal forces involved in the golf swing keep it on its track and at right angles to the middle of your chest.
At the end of your golf stroke you should finish with your upper torso positioned over your front leg to reduce lower back pressure. Also notice in the upper left photo how He Yong has maintained the postural angle that she started with? This suggests that she was able to maintain her balance throughout the stroke by swinging at a tempo that allows her to maximise her timing whilst minimising excess motion.Finally she has rotated her body completely to where she would be pointing well left of where the golf ball ended up.