Aim is number one – what is aim? Club face perpendicular to the target line, with Feet, hips and knees parallel to FACE AIM
put stick or shaft close to target line where the club head will be and get used to aiming this correctly first, then getting the body parallel. NOT PUTTING A SHAFT DOWN IN-BETWEEN YOUR FOOT LINE AND BALL AND USING THIS AS YOUR BODY REFERENCE because it’s easy to get a distorted perspective and start aiming the feet way too far left of the target.
PARALLEL LINES ARE EQUIDISTANT FOREVER SO YOUR FEET LINE/ BODY LINE SHOULD ONLY EVER BE APPROX 3ft LEFT OF TARGET LINE!!!!!!!!!!!
Great players practice hitting shots and controlling the club face, they learn (after getting the fundamentals of movement correct) by trial and error how to hit different shots.
Some modern players (many of whom learned the same way originally as kids) who now use launch monitors, pressure plates, 3D analysis and data for feedback are NOT BETTER than the legends I.e Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, etc etc Why? Because you can’t beat watching ball flight and learning feel by trial and error.
Even Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth would of all had their swings pretty much developed by the time they were exposed to most of the technology that everyone is raving about today.
It’s the same with putting, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Loren Roberts, Greg Norman, Brad Faxon, (I could go on and on), all putted brilliantly for their whole careers without ever seeing a data read out of their ball launch or spin off the putter, or their face angle at impact using Sam Putt lab or any other gizmo.
It is worth remembering that Tiger won 8 Majors between 1997 and 2003, before any launch monitors were even being used!
And now he has every imaginable piece of technology he cannot play anywhere near his old game.
What else do you have when you’re on the course and facing a shot under pressure?
It’s then that you need to own your swing, you need to have some basic key thoughts that you know can produce a certain shot.
If you study the best players through history many like Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, Rory McIlroy and lots of others have a tremendous amount of hip Turn at impact and this is definitely something to be encouraged.
However we all have different amounts of flexibility and constantly comparing ones swing, with any of the above players can be futile and counter productive if you do not possess their physical abilities.
Other great players like Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson still had the same basic sequence and movement pattern but were not quite as rotated in the hips at impact and achieved outstanding careers.
I categorise swings and players into two basic body types, lateral benders (people who can keep their right or rear elbow flexed at impact and use the right or rear shoulder lowering toward the hip to reach the ball), these players can also generally rotate their pelvis really well and are often like the legends in their look at impact, and then you have the non lateral benders (people who have to straighten the rear arm more into impact because they physically can’t lateral bend enough), who will be less rotated in the hips at impact.
Jason Day would be a good example of this type of player who still achieves incredible power.
It is true that many of the legends fall into the lateral bend category, but this is just what their bodies can do and is an innate ability. I do not believe this can be learned, except by children starting from scratch who can develop their movement patterns before maturity and even then their bodies will either be more receptive to one or the other of the movement/swing types.
Some of the legendary players may well have used turning the hips as a practice thought, as did Hogan, but in doing so their bodies were able to produce extreme amounts of rotation that other players, thinking exactly the same thing, cannot achieve and more to the point, will never be able to achieve through physical limitations!
You may be thinking that anyone within reason can improve flexibility and you would be right, but dynamic flexibility (which is required to move through these positions in roughly a second while swinging) is completely different.
To strike a ball with a flexed rear elbow and be able to go from left lateral bend in the back swing, to full right lateral bend into impact (for right handers), with hips maximally rotated (belt buckle virtually facing the target like Dustin Johnson), is an incredibly athletic thing to do and to a degree you simply can do this, or you can’t!
For example Dustin Johnson did not grow up doing special exercises to enable his body to assume the incredibly dynamic positions he achieves, no, his body finds those positions when faced with the task of striking a ball, because they are the ranges of movement available to him.
I believe bodies do what they can do and wasting hours, weeks and months trying to contort your body into a model position through impact is not the way to get better, it’s the way to get a lot worse, especially when you try to do this on the course.
For me after the set up fundamentals are learned, there are three important things in the swing.
The first is to learn one continuos movement, that is driven by the feet, like a piston action, with the front foot rolling in and the back hip retracting and then the back foot rolling in and the front hip retracting.
However much you can retract either hip is fine as long as these things are happening. You can lift the front heel in the backswing or not, whatever feels most comfortable as long as the weight rolls inward onto the inside of the big toe.
The second is the shoulder pivot, where the feeling should be front shoulder down (not around) in the backswing and back shoulder down in the through swing. These two things should be learned simultaneously like a dance and not learned by joining imaginary dots as many methods are taught.
The third thing is club face awareness through impact. This has two parts. The direction the face is moving (path) and its orientation (face angle, whether closed, open or square to its path).
These two things must be developed through trial and error by experimenting with different amounts of forearm rotation which controls the face angle and changing the direction of the arms as they move through impact, to learn path.
Different combinations will cause different shot types and these subjective feelings and the resultant ball flights should be logged by each individual as they progress and learn.
Much is talked about swing plane, hip depth or maintenance of the tailbone relative to the ball throughout the swing (posture maintenance), weak grips, strong grips, wrist and club face angles at the top of the swing, being across the line or laid off or ‘perfect’, rear arm position at the top, whether it’s a flying elbow or tucked down, but how coaches can put so much emphasis on these things when a plethora of great players through history all did or do everything completely different, is a mystery to me.
A good example would be to compare two players who would be in anyone’s list of top five golfers of all time, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan.
Jack took the club away on a more inside arc than Ben.
Jack did not have as much wrist cock when the left arm reached parallel in the backswing as Ben.
Jack lifted his arms more vertically after the initial takeaway move and his club would point to the right of the target at the top of his swing (across the line), compared to Ben, who would swing the arms on flatter plane and rotate the forearms more, which would point the club left of the target at the top of his swing (laid off).
Ben would point the right elbow vertically down as he reached the top of his swing, compared to Jack, who would lift the elbow way off the ribs and have it pointing almost horizontal to the ground (flying elbow).
Ben would drive his right elbow forward in front of his body in transition, compared to Jack, who would get his elbow more adjacent to the right ribs.
Ben would maintain considerable right elbow flex into impact and Jack would straighten his right elbow a lot more.
Ben would swing considerably left with the hands and arms post impact and Jack would swing a lot less in this direction and closer to the target line.
What was similar? The way both players used their feet and legs, the way they pivoted their shoulders and obviously their apparent and ‘subjective’ awareness of their respective club face angles and swing paths, which enabled them to hit the ball where they wanted with alarming regularity.
Most coaches will say things like don’t copy this swing because this only works if you practice 8 hours a day, when referring to a great player like Jim Furyk or Lee Trevino and if you learn the ‘proper’ swing you will be much more consistent.
The problem is, to learn the so called perfect swing, when ‘your’ swing is completely different, will also take you 8 hours a day and probably ruin your game in the process.
These great players mastered fluid movement, club face and swing path control, with a
good shoulder pivot, they did not ‘waste’ any time trying to copy text book positions or theoretical lines drawn on a computer, which actually have no proven scientific results to show that they improve impact.
They can’t be proven because if they did it would be impossible for all the great players I have mentioned to be any good! As none of them conform consistently to any of these ideas.
I think technology is great when used in the right way, like using a launch monitor to track distances balls are carrying and proximities to targets for measuring ones efficiency, but there are way too many coaches hunched over laptops studying body positions and data and forgetting one very important thing, where is the ball going!