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Swing Mechanics, A Personal Perspective


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#1 Devongolfer

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Posted 30 March 2021 - 01:01 AM

I have been working on swing mechanics seriously for 8 or 9 years. I want to organise my thoughts as best I can and post them on isg as way of wrapping up my swing mechanics journey in a tidy manner.

BACKGROUND
I first hit a golf ball when I was 14. I am now 65, so over 50 years of playing albeit with a few gaps. Most of that time I have been in the 7-12 handicap range. But in all that time I was a lousy ball striker. If you are interested in how a lousy ball striker can be a single figure golfer, I did a long thread on isg called "single figures without swing mechanics".

MY KEY LESSONS LEARNED
1: Hitting from the top is instinctive. Options for fixing or coping.
2: You need the right shoulder moving "down plane" on the down swing. Why? Why is that difficult? How can you make this easier to do?
3: The dangers of getting "stuck" with the club too far behind you

There are a number of "gotchas" hidden in these topics that guarantee lousy ball striking. The reason it has taken me so long to get to where I am now is because either I did not know about them, or because I did not know how impossible it was for me to avoid them if I followed conventional instruction.

HITTING FROM THE TOP IS INSTINCTIVE
It seems obvious that a golf swing is a two step process: backswing, hit the ball.

There are different ways to swing a club, and one of them really is like this, more on that later.

But all the other methods should really be thought of as: backswing, transition move, hit the ball. The reason is that a typical backswing moves the club into an above plane position from which you shouldn't hit at the ball.

The transition move is complex; involving a hip rotation but not an upper body rotation, perhaps a weight shift, and a downward drop of the arms whilst laying the club down onto a flatter plane whilst delaying any impulse to hit at the ball until the transition move is complete. All in a fraction of a second.

You can't really know what transition moves you are actually making without video, which means a series of lessons and practice.

I spent enough time and lesson money on this issue before concluding that this transition move is a matter of talent. Having played with enough really good amateurs and club pros, I believe that good golfers just get this move but duffers like me don't have whatever it takes to do this reliably.

And when I get the transition move wrong, every type of miss could result. Fat, thin, left, right even the dreaded unmentionable.

OK, so is there a way to eliminate the need for a transition move? Yes, you have two options. Option one is a steep "left arm is the plane arm" swing, like Bubba.

The other option, with a flatter backswing, is to curtail it in order to cut out the lifting of the club. This typically happens because of lifting the right elbow and bending the right arm late in the backswing.

Simply put, you eliminate the need to transition back onto plane by never actually lifting the club off plane. You are always on plane, no transition required. This has the feel of a compact 3/4 backswing, but if you ever see yourself on video you will likely be surprised how normal the backswing looks.

RIGHT SHOULDER DOWN PLANE.
On the downswing, you need your right shoulder to move down plane in the general direction of the ball. As opposed to moving forward and "over the top".

Why? Because your right shoulder carries your right arm! If the right shoulder moves OTT, your arms have to make a frantic loop from the outside to get back to the ball. This move involves throwaway and leads to pull hooks and straight pulls.

If you do this enough, like me, you eventually learn how to "save" shots by holding the clubface open just the right amount to fade a pulled shot back into the fairway. This is the "heave and hold off" way to play. But, in my experience, every now and then I hit a "left" because I am not good enough to save 100% of shots. And distance is poor with heave and hold off.

If the right shoulder moves down plane you are much better off.

But why is it surprisingly hard to do this? The answer is that the left hip is "in the way".

You can demonstrate this to yourself very simply. Without a club, setup in a normal posture. Now pivot back, and the left hip will move forward.

Now, with the left hip still forward, try and move the right shoulder down plane. Impossible, all you can do is a weak shoulder rocking move.

Now adjust your left hip back out of the way and try again. Right shoulder moves down plane!

If the left hip is in the way when you start the downswing, you are stuffed and doomed to come over the top or stand up or any number of bad moves.

This gets us back to the transition move. Good golfers do two things in their transition, they get the club back onto plane and they move the left hip out of the way. Both before hitting at the ball. Very hard to do right every time in my experience, as already mentioned.

We have eliminated half of the need for the transition move by never lifting the club off plane. Can we eliminate the need for the other half of the transition move, by keeping the left hip out of the way somehow?

Yes, we can. By setting up Trevino style with the feet and hips open. With this start position, the left hip moves on the backswing from open to square or neutral. So, the left hip is never in the way!

Other important things with this setup:

1: be sure your pelvis is forward. Don't confuse this with posture, this is nothing to do with how bent over you are. Set up normally, keep your posture stable and feel that you can have your pelvis back or forward.

2: setup with your shoulders and eyes square. The eyes have an important role to play. You should look at the hole or target by turning the right eye under the left. If the eyes turn like this, your shoulders will too. If the eyes turn level, the shoulders will turn flat left.

These ideas, together, eliminate the need for a transition move and make it straightforward to move the right shoulder down plane and also have the club on plane.

Now you really can "backswing, hit the ball". Much simpler and you are working with your instinct not against it.

THE DANGERS OF GETTING "STUCK" WITH THE CLUB TOO FAR BEHIND YOU
This is the final really bad move to avoid. If you drag the club back and around, as you start the downswing your instinct will feel that a direct route to the ball will result in your right elbow hitting your right hip.

This is called "right hip interference". You will never actually hit your right hip with your right elbow because your instinct will be to automatically use the arms to take the club out and around. The right arm swings round in an arc called "roundhousing" as in a "roundhouse" right arm punch. This will lead to throwaway and big misses left.

In a good downswing, you have plenty of room for your right elbow to get past your right hip. So, the key is to take the club back such that it feels like you are taking the club back "to the outside". Part of this is you don't need to wind up the shoulders, just let them stay neutral.

This is a "feel ain't real" situation. If you look in a mirror, what feels like taking the club back to the outside actually looks just right.

SUMMARY
In my experience, if I:

1: set up with feet and hips open, shoulders and eyes square and pelvis forward
2: keep the club on plane by not lifting the club in the last bit of the backswing
3: feel like I am taking the club back to the outside

Then, I can "backswing and hit the ball". No swing thoughts on the downswing. No left hip in the way, no right hip interference, on plane, no transition moves necessary, right shoulder goes down plane, no throwaway, no roundhousing, no saving of shots.

That gets me from "lousy" ball striking to "reasonable" ball striking and quite a few unsolicited compliments from golf buddies about my swing.

I feel good about getting this posted, I hope this is clear and if anyone finds this even a bit helpful, I will be really pleased. And I should finish by reminding anyone that reads this that I am not an expert or an instructor.
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#2 Big Bopper

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 06:21 AM

Devon, there is no way on gods green earth can you even hit the ball thinking the way you do. Don’t fret; I was there many a time sounding just like you. Here is a little advice on my research that helped me go from 80-90 golf. Down to low to mid 70’s with hardly any thoughts but feel

At address and entire swing feel as if the clubhead itself weights a 1000 lbs. Do this by a grip pressure of 6/10 or less. Feel oily in the wrists and hands. The club will naturally do what it was made to do. Drop behind shallow and try and close at impact due to weighting and gear effect. Our job is think fade release all the way thru the swing until finish. And think about left shoulder blade clearing out of the way at impact. That is it

The ball will be caught in the middle of these forces and shoot out with a very straight powerful trajectory. And even have draw bias. Which is hard to grasp with a fade release. But it is as natural as physics using how the club was made and intended to be used.

So simple

#3 Devongolfer

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 05:00 PM

BB,

thanks for the reply.

The first part is nonsense, of course, because obviously I am hitting the ball as I describe.

But I recognise the method you like. I do actually use something similar in a very specific situation, which is a flop over a bunker. For me, in such a situation, quitting or decelerating is a disaster, so an automatic release overcomes that. And I am not worried about hooks or slices on such a shot.

If you go through as much golf instruction as I have, every teacher has the secret and most books start by explaining why all the other methods are utter nonsense.

The whole golf industry is devoted to a frenzied argument about which method is best. Been there, have the T shirt. If I had wanted to start that riot, I would have called the thread "Swing mechanics, my method is better than all your methods".

That's why I called this thread a personal perspective, because we all have to find our way to the method that suits us best. You like what you do and make it work well, and maybe you would struggle to do what I do and vice versa.

Actually, all that I describe is foundational. I have not specified releases or power sources. So nothing I said precludes me from using the light grip pressure auto release method you describe. I mentioned the "left arm is plane arm" option in my post.

What I have described is really all about me trying to overcome tendencies and faults that ruin my swings and set off all sorts of compensation moves.

Granted, some methods are more vulnerable to some faults than others. The major advantage of a "left arm is plane arm" action is that you don't need to find the plane with a transition move. But the downside is you have to trust the club to square itself through impact.

So, just to be clear, all I am saying is

1: if I use a method that requires a transition move, that is tricky for me to execute reliably, so for me, a better way is a compact backswing that avoids the problem
2: the left hip in the way problem is also a big barrier for me, hence the Trevino style setup fix
3: And I have a tendency to drag the club to the inside, which is also a problem. Taking the club back "outside" is better.

Just avoiding these problems gets me from a "lousy", OTT, heave and hold off action to something "reasonable".

With those foundations in place, I have some scope to use different planes, power sources, release actions, which I have not gone into.

#4 Big Bopper

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 09:22 PM

You do realize being over the top from the inside is a power move?

Your mind is a complete mess my friend. Not sure I can even throw you a life line at this point :(

#5 Devongolfer

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 08:33 PM

https://m.youtube.co...h?v=MDWsDj4cOsQ

Anyway, moving on. This came up on youtube, have seen all sorts of golf stuff on youtube in lockdown.

I like this for a number of reasons. The best club pro in Devon, who holds course records at more clubs than anyone, and who I go to for lessons, when I do have lessons, is left handed but plays right handed. Which is talked about in the video.

The other thing, which relates to this thread, is this is a "no transition move", no OTT, no "stuck", keep it as simple as possible approach.

Not going to spend time dissecting this video and comparing it to my first post, just have a look and see what you think.

#6 Devongolfer

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 09:01 PM

https://m.youtube.co...h?v=htq3i_mZyss

Full disclosure, you can find you-tubes saying the exact opposite, a closed stance for senior golfers.

But this one advocates an open stance. I originally tried an open stance because of Mindy Blake's book.

Anyway, just posting this with the youtube immediately prior to this because, taken together, they more or less say what I posted at the start of this thread. And I am sure they are better explanations than my long post.

So, I may be mad and a "complete mess" but I am not making this stuff up.

Everyone is different, so what works best for me may not be best for someone else. For me, moving on from a "lousy" swing to a "reasonable swing" has been a delight, which is why I wanted to share.

Not an expert, not an instructor, individual mileage will vary. Just fyi.

#7 Big Bopper

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 05:54 PM

Here is a question for you? What is so bad about over the top ?

Sam Snead and even the great Bob Jones were over the top. Why did they use it ? Because it’s natural and repeatable. What did they do different then me and you? Added forearm rotation in transition and hit with their right sides of the body at impact

Why not just embrace it? Do you have 12 plus hours a day to fix and reroute an over the top swing path? Doubtful

#8 Devongolfer

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 06:25 PM

Hi, BB,
a very reasonable question. In fact, one of the pros said exactly the same thing to me during a lesson.

The answer is interest, really. You need to bear in mind how long I have played the game. I can heave and hold off, or, as I think you suggested earlier, from a closed stance I can heave and draw the ball with a closed clubface.

Round after round after round after round. Gradually getting more repeatable, working on course management, short game, putting. I did this for years and ground my handicap down to 6/7.

Then the question became: what now? More and more and more rounds doing exactly the same thing, getting the same score? At that point I wanted to quit the game due to lack of interest.

To be fair, at that time I had no idea how big and difficult a topic Swing Mechanics was.

But I decided that I was going to learn how to hit the ball "properly", all the while knowing that my scores and handicap would go up. But I would have a reason to play, working on the next bit of my swing. I started with lessons, lots of lessons, and switched pros trying to find the approach that suited me.

After absolutely no progress and, worse, not gaining any clear understanding of what I was trying to do, I went off on my own and decided to find whatever resources were out there and "roll my own".

That got me a pile of books, videos, online lessons, and participation in isg. TGM seemed best, but it is very frustrating. That at least gave me Hitting and Swinging, plus an understanding of key faults like throwaway, roundhousing, hip interference etc. I like Jim Hardy, one and two plane, LOP, RIT and hybrid methods.

I really like Mindy Blake. And just this week, I have found E A Tischler, which I am about to post about on Jack's thread.

Perhaps the best way of describing it is like the guy who spends years tinkering with an old car. If the objective is to drive somewhere, totally inefficient. Buy a Toyota. If the objective is to be interested, understand and fix something, a hobby or pastime, in other words, great.

#9 Devongolfer

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 11:16 PM

Swinging.

BB's and EA Tischler's advocacy for swinging made me think back to what I experienced when I tried it.

I get it, it does offer the best club head speed. Pretty soon after getting TGM, I gave it a go. I get good contact with swinging, I like the good ones.

I think the issue was that, at that time, my home club was basically an anticlockwise layout. That meant OB was on the right side of all of the holes that ran along the boundary of the course, a total of 9 holes with OB right.

With swinging, the bad ones go right. So I just got fed up losing balls OOB.

Then I switched club, and the new course was more evenly balanced with far fewer OB holes. But there was really bad reeds and rough off line. Nevertheless, I gave swinging another go.

What finally made me abandon swinging was the new club had brilliant practice facilities. If I got the range to myself, I could spend a couple of hours hitting my own marked balls and trying different techniques, before walking down range to pick up.

What I was hoping to find was that my best swinging shots went further than my hitting shots by enough distance to motivate me to commit to swinging and grooving it.

For whatever reason, I did not get much, if any, extra distance. Not nearly enough to justify the added risk of a big right.

That was about 3-4 years ago, I forget exactly. The last year has been a mess with covid lockdowns, but the few times I have played, all I have been doing is Mindy leg drag action with driver and hitting for everything else.

Now that I have Tischler's book, I note that he advocates swinging but also its right tendency. He does advocate keeping the left wrist vertical, no forearm rotation, relying on rotation to square the club. Like Hank Haney says. That ought to offer some better control.

Curiosity will ensure that at some point I give swinging a third go, using the Tischler advice, but likely not soon. Because Tischler also has some insights that I had not understood about Throwing and Hitting that I am more excited to try first.

So, just to be clear, I am not dismissing swinging out of hand.

#10 Big Bopper

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 03:04 PM

Devon

I agree hitting (tgm) style is the best approach. But what is to say many of amateur golfers are both hitters and swingers in some sense at any given time. The only way I can become a hitter is forearm a rotation opening the club face all the way too the finish (in feel). This keep the most stable face for me. And with CF forces, there is no physical way one can keep a face open the entire swing. So what one things is open. Is actually square to the target line tangent

But; as I stated. We all have a tad of hit in swing in all of us. It takes a very strong man or women to keep a face square a foot after the strike. The pressures on the shaft and body in our violent bursts thru the ball our immense. A prime example of a modern day hitter as always been Sir Nick Faldo. He did it better than anyone

No with classic Tgm, their hitting is promoted by a closed club face approach. Where one is basically making their impact at the top of the backswing. That is very relevant and makes the most sense. But many don’t realize you better have a world class pivot to keep that face square to the target line. Implementing a closed face approach

Choose your poison I guess

#11 Devongolfer

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 08:45 PM

What should I do when faced with new information?

I have my Mindy action for driver and my TGM hitting for everything else. These were worked out in the previous couple of years. They work "reasonably", which, for me, is a step forward.

Our season is just starting, so my plan was to stop changing swing mechanics and spend a season seeing what scores I can achieve.

But a few days ago I accidentally discovered EA Tischler aka newhorizonsgolf. His whole thing is biomechanics. I have looked at many youtubes from this guy, bought and read one Kindle book and have the second on the way.

I cannot simply put this new information to one side and carry on for a season regardless. But I don't want to just start again from first principles, getting too close to the end of my golfing life for that.

EA's system has 12 features, with 3 alternatives for each feature. In some cases, if you make a choice in one feature, biomechanics suggests that a particular choice in another feature naturally follows. In other cases, you are still free to choose.

My plan is to see if I can learn from Tischler and improve both Mindy and Hitting. As opposed to say starting again from first principles with Swinging.

12 features with 3 options each is a lot of combinations! But life gets a bit simpler because the 12 features are grouped into 3 groups of 4. The first is to do with accuracy, the second with power, the third with feel. So, if I go with that order, then the question gets simpler.

Can Tischler help my accuracy? 4 features, 3 options each. If EA improves my accuracy, you can imagine I will be excited to move onto Power. If I get nothing from the Accuracy section, then that might be the end of EA for me.

It always helps me organise my thinking when I post here, so I will post any insights and conclusions.

Edited by Devongolfer, 06 April 2021 - 08:46 PM.


#12 Devongolfer

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 10:03 PM

Well, that plan did not last long! I started to map Mindy and Hitting onto EA and it was immediately clear that they are utterly different. Mindy is a flavour of Swinging. Working on both at the same time is clearly too much.

Since I can use Hitting for driver and get almost as good results as I do with Mindy, the obvious simplification is to abandon Mindy for the duration of this project and just try to see if EA can help me improve Hitting.

And the first step is clear, I need to work out if I am Hitting or Throwing. The difference is all to do with elbow position and whether the hinge action is Horizontal or Angled.

So, next step is to try both and see what happens. What feels normal, what works better, which one will I adopt for the purpose of optimising?

#13 Devongolfer

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 11:46 PM

Been swinging a club in the garden, trying to get a feel for all of this and maybe narrow down some options.

The EA hitting action with the right elbow back and a super strong left hand grip felt so weird that I am certain I have never used this.

That means I can choose the first four "accuracy features": Side on, mid track, diagonal and cornering. That is essentially what I do now. TGM calls this Hitting, EA and Hardy call it Throwing.

Of the four power options, one I just don't understand, which is "axis of symmetry". So I will leave that for now and come back to it later. Two of the power options don't apply, for different reasons. Torque system does not apply because I am hitting so using arm power not pivot power. Clearing action does not apply because I am using the Trevino style open feet and hips at setup, so the left hip is already cleared.

That leaves one interesting feature, "swing anchor". Do I want to pivot around my right leg, my centre, my left leg? I don't know, I will have to try.

That leaves 4 Feel features. For the slotting feature, I just choose Torso plane, meaning I want the club shaft pointing at my torso at impact, a middle position. Postural release is Post up, that comes with Side On, and means I start to stand up out of posture when the club reaches about 45 degrees past impact.

The remaining two are very interesting to me. Swing linkage is how you sync arms and pivot. You might practice swing with a glove under your left armpit, right arm pit or both. EA says this choice should match the Swing Anchor choice, which is very interesting to me. So, I need to try right leg anchor with right swing linkage, mid with mid and left with left.

The final one is called Arc Management. Based on my other choices, I ought to be using "deep deep" which means the club going more in an arc from back around to through and round. That feels a stronger arc to me than the TGM Hitting mantra of "cross line".

Anyway, that now seems like a manageable number of things to try. Linking my arms and pivot seems like a very powerful idea to me, with 3 options to try. And the deep deep thing is just a suck it and see.

If it stops snowing some time soon, I might get a chance to try these.

#14 Devongolfer

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 05:30 PM

First read of EA Tischler's second book.

First up, I got the second book directly from new horizons golf and the first from Amazon, Get the books direct, the Amazon one is black and white and poorly presented. The direct one is in colour and much better presented.

The first book is really an overview. The second is the "how to" but only for the first, but most important, things to optimise.

This is biomechanics, so no physics, no latin names of muscles, no bs. There are tests you can do to find your natural balance point, your natural swing path, your natural grip etc. The theory at work here is that we are all built differently, so we should choose our golf swing to suit how we are built.

Ref my previous post, my decision to start with the pivot centre was correct, that is where book 2 starts.

Now it is up to me to do the tests and drills and see what difference it makes.




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