by Robert Baker
Lesson 6 - 'Fly the plane' to visualise the line of your swing
When it comes to swinging a golf club, my bet is that most of you out there tend to think in terms of matching up too many different positions along the way (and there are a lot of guys on tour making the same mistake).
So that you can bypass the confusion this (inevitably) tends to create in the mind's eye, what I have tried to do here is present a series of simple concepts and images that will help you to smooth the whole thing out and create a truly flowing and dynamic motion.
We have take off!
The product of a good set-up and good movement. The halfway back position that you see on the left is one that many tour players use as the corner-stone of their swing technique.
From the set up, if you can get the wrists fully hinged and the clubshaft bisecting the tip of your right shoulder as you swing through this halfway position, you are on course to make a good backswing.
As the plane flies up, you continue to 'load' the wrists until you are fully loaded at the top of the backswing. A full turn of the shoulders combined with a full loading of the wrists has you in a dynamic position as you coil your upper body against a flexed right knee and thigh.
Wrist Action - How to "Load" the Club
Angle of the shaft at set up provides the basis for plane of the swing.
As hands pass right thigh, wrists begin to 'load' the club to toe up position.
Shaft accords with original shaft angle as wrists continue to hinge and body continues to turn.
Right pocket back, left shoulder across - those are your clues for a natural backswing.
While the general posture and body position provides the framework of a good swing, the hands and wrists provide the critical hinge that essentially gets the clubhead swinging on a good plane and with some real speed - in other words, a good wrist action basically brings your swing to life.
To touch briefly on the techical bit, the wrists work to 'load' the club on the backswing, then unload their energy in the split-second before impact, squaring the clubface to the ball. This is why so many great players in history put so much though and emphasis on the waggle - it basically determines a good wrist action.
From the set-up, the very first move away from the ball sees the shoulders, arms and hands work the club away pretty much in one piece (hence the expression 'one-piece takeaway'), but the secret is that even as you pass through this position, the wrists are beginning to hinge and 'set' the club (primed thanks to the waggle), and that action is what gets the wings level as the club shaft reaches a position where it is simultaneously parallel with the ground and ball-to-target line.
That's one of the key checkpoints to look for in the process of developing your swing.
Look for the club to be 'toe-up' as the right wrist hinges back on itself. As that wrist and forearm action continues to combine with the turning of the body, so the club swings up and over the right shoulder.
For me, this image simplifies the whole issue of swing plane. When you look at your swing in a mirror, this is what you want to see: the clubshaft bisecting your right shoulder as the club swings up.
The swing cues Grant mentioned earlier are all you need to think about: 'right pocket back' gets your hips turning on a fairly level plane while 'left shoulder across' gets you coiled into a good backswing position, the left shoulder pointing behind the ball.
Rotational speed is the key to solid and efficient ball-striking
The knees and lower body take care of the transition, while the hips andf the 'core' then provide the speed and the final thrust through the ball.
If you want to become a better player, these are the lessons you have to take on board. movespower.
The Return Journey - Unwind and Glide Through
Wrists still 'loaded' deep into the delivery position
Right hand crosses the left as you rotate throught towards target
Club exits through to bisect left shoulder - a mirror-image of the backswing
Rotate body 'core' all the way through - belt buckle faces the target
One thing I like to stress in talking about the swing as a whole is the benefit of a subtle roll of the ankles as you change direction and unwind back towards the ball.
Good players often talk about unwinding from the ground up, and this sympathetic footwork not only gives your swing a great sense of rhythm, but it magically harmonises the movement of the various components of your swimg - i.e. body, arms, hands and the club - in readiness to strike the ball.
As Ankles and Knees Shift, The Club Comes Down...
To summarise, from the top of the backswing you are looking for this ground-up sequence through the transition into the downswng: the ankles and knees reverse the momentum (thus inviting your body to 'settle' into the hitting position). As the left hip begins to climb, you get this tremendous pulling of the handle, while the wrists remain loaded. As you rehearse this, so you will appreciate that as the ankles/knees shift momentum back towards the target, so the arms drop into position.
Even if you are a little out of sync going back, that subtle movement in the lower body gets everything back on track, so that you unwind everything together through the ball. Thoughts of making the left hip pocket disappear as the right side unwinds will further inspire you to maximise the 'core' speed that generates irresistible momentum - as you unwind, you cannot help but be pulled into a full and balanced finish (right), the hands this time swinging the club up and over the left shoulder, your belt buckle facing the target (or even left of it).
Believe me, the better your ankle, knee and hip action, the better your downswing will be.
Here's another thought that will help you hit more solid shots: as that club reaches the ball, sense that the right knee 'chases' the shaft the whole time - really blitz it with that right knee. That helps to keep the right shoulder moving 'under' the left and lowers the whole right side of your body to support the shaft at impact.
As an exercise, stand and rehearse your swing while reminding yourself to swing the arms and roll the right hand over the left to get the plane flying up and over the left shoulder. That will give you a terrific feeling of where the club should travel and how the arms and hands should work immediately pot impact. Train it, and then trust it.