Fix Your Golf Swing - Part 1
BY Paul Smith
I first made contact with Freddy while I was in Kansas in 2004. He was down and out on the floor, the facility owner’s dog having knocked him off his flip-chart perch. As I picked him up off the floor I looked at this simple diagram, with very little writing on it, of a man swinging a golf club. Figure one is a rather plush version of Freddy, who has been a constant part of my teaching kit ever since.
Whilst the diagram is a slight exaggeration, there are a few parts to it that are of vital importance in building a firm understanding of a golf swing in action. This article will make its way through the various components of the diagram and will quickly give any level of player a few points to consider about their own game.
The Club – “A” Line
Everyone knows that a golf club, for the most part, is a straight shaft and the shaft is connected to the clubhead at the hosel. Clubheads are designed so that when the sole (bottom) of the club is placed square to the ground the grip end of the shaft leans toward the target and the clubhead is behind it. When the club is set down like this the level of loft on the clubface is as the designer intended. By allowing the club to have its naturally designed forward target side lean at the address point we are using the design rather than fighting it. I call this Design Rule #1.
How often do you see players at address with the shaft positioned at right angles to the ground or even pointing backwards? Too often. With their hands in this position the loft now being presented to the ball is much higher than what is stamped on the club, in other words a 5 iron is now a 7 iron.
The Left Arm โ “B” Line
For all right handed players, the left hand holds the grip of the club at the top of the shaft. Few of us probably think about where our left hand actually locates itself naturally and so we end up with our hand holding the club shaft vertically somewhere around our zippers.
Figure 3 shows how my arms hang naturally by my sides standing up. Figure 4 shows where they hang as I tilt forward into a golfing posture at set-up and Figure 5 shows this same position from a target line view. Note I am not putting my arms in this position, they naturally fall this way once I lean forward. Where they hang from person to person will vary. This is Design Rule #2.
If trying this at home or in the office lean forward, find where your arms hang naturally and give yourself a reference point on your thigh or trousers so you can look down and see that your hands are in the same place more often than not. Also note how far away your hands are from your body as we do not wish to either stretch outward or pull inwards from this point as we set up or swing.
Note too that I have a straight back. As I tilt forward I do not hunch over or round my shoulders, my spine stays straight. As we swing the club we pivot around our spine so the fewer curves in our spine at setup the easier this is.
Line A and B together
Now consider this. We have 2 design rules. How do you get the club’s grip into your hand without breaking either rule? Answer: We must move the entire machine ๑ our body ๑ so that they match up. We can shuffle up to the grip and across to it as I have done from Figure 6 (above) to Figure 7 (below). Note the change in ball position and the resemblance in shape to Freddy.
Putting the club in the finger grip of the left hand (there will be another article on the specifics of this later) we have an almost straight line from the left shoulder to the ball. We have a flat left wrist and our neutral grip. It is not a 1, 2 or 3 knuckle grip but instead how ever many your body is designed to show.
With only the first part of Freddy explained we now have a major key to determining where the ball should be positioned for each club. No more guessing where it goes.
As our hands are in the same place each time only the forward lean of the clubhead is going to change. The amount of forward lean increases from Driver through to the Wedges. It therefore follows that the Driver will set up further forward in our stance in comparison to the Wedges.
The difference in this setup compared to other magazine articles showing the same is the combination of the club design and our own body design which in turn anchors where the grip end sits. Now we have a real starting point to work from.
Right Arm “C” and Shoulder Line
So, our left arm hangs roughly mid left thigh. In order for our right hand to reach across to the grip, our right shoulder will naturally dip a little towards the ground compared to the left shoulder. The spine now has a slight backward tilt (away from the target).
As the right hand grips the club the right wrist will have a small backward bend that naturally occurs, the result being a flat left wrist and a bent right wrist as shown in Figure 9 (above). Put this together with the club and we now have the “y” shape as drawn on Freddy. This is the starting point from which to swing.
As this is an article on Freddy the full set up routine including balance will be looked into at a later date.
The Up and Down and Around Circle
We have all heard, at some stage in our golfing careers, that you need to keep your left arm straight. The reason this is important is that if we can keep the arm straight then we can maintain the radius of the length of the arm and the club. Obviously the length of the club is not going to change however our left arm can bend as we swing thus shortening the radius. Bending is not helpful so we keep it straight using extensor action, which I will also explore in a future article. For now lets just think of this as keeping our left arm straight.
Freddy’s diagram also shows another very important relationship, that the low point of the arc of the swing is under our left shoulder.
Your left arm will hang closest to the ground exactly where it naturally hangs. Yet the ball is placed behind this point because the club is designed to make contact with the ball then the ground. Watch any great player hit a wedge and they will take long divots as their clubs hit the ball then the ground taking a divot. The divot is the width of where the ball was placed to the low point of the arc of their swing ๑ under their left shoulders!
Therefore Freddy shows us that we need to hit down on the ball.
In fact the ball is not sitting on the base of the plane as the bottom of the swing plane is under the ground! The ball sits on the plane but not at the bottom of it, just prior to it with a Driver and further back for a Wedge. The longer the club the shorter the divot, as the ball is set up closer to the low point.