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Getting Back to Golf Swing Basics

If you’ve never read Homer Kelly’s The Golfing Machine, I have one piece of advice…

Don’t.

Seriously, if you ever want to golf normally, avoid that book like the plague!  You don’t need it, you just need golf swing basics.  All the other stuff is “Information Overload”.

Since I’m a glutton for punishment- and I hope you are, too- we’re going to take a quick look at what Kelly describes as golf swing basics.

It’s messed up; there are twenty-four (24!!) components that makes up what Kelly describes as the “basics”:

  1. Grips- basic (proximity of how close the hands are)
  2. Grips- types
  3. Strokes- basic (focusing on the target-side arm/elbow)
  4. Strokes- types and variations
  5. Plane line
  6. Plane angle- basic
  7. Plane angle- variations
  8. Fix (correcting impact positions)
  9. Address
  10. Hinge actions (hand manipulation and the clubface)
  11. Pressure Point combinations (the impact motion)
  12. Pivot
  13. Shoulder turn
  14. Hip turn
  15. Hip action
  16. Knee action
  17. Foot action
  18. backside (left for RH’s) wrist action
  19. Lag loading (physics of hitting/swinging)
  20. Trigger types (what releases the “power package assembly”)
  21. The Power Package Assembly (the positions selected as best able to supply the impact force as calculated for the situation)
  22. Power Package loading action
  23. Power Package delivery path
  24. Power Package release

Seriously?!  What the hell is all this?

One thing he did get right: all the different permutations of this… program… can create multiple ways to swing the club.  I just look at them and go:

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Every swing is like a thumbprint; we all have one, but no two are alike?”.  If you haven’t, well, now you have.  But the question remains: do we really need a Master’s Degree to swing a golf club?

No.

There’s no one way to swing a golf club, true, but there are four key areas you should be looking at to get it more or less “in the zone”.

One: The Grip

Hell no, I’m not going into this as deep or complex as Kelly does.  However, you do need a solid grip to get the most out of your swing.

There’s no right or wrong way to grip a club.  There are some keys you can use:

  • Do you have big hands?  If so, a Vardon/Overlapping grip may be best.
  • Do you have smaller hands?  If so, then an Interlocking grip may be best.

The overlap grip is where the pinky of your dominant hand rests between the index and middle fingers of your non-dominant hand.  If you’re a righty, that means the pinky of your right hand.

The interlock grip means the pinky of your dominant hand “interlocks” with the index finger of your non-dominant hand.

As far as “strong”, “neutral”, and “weak” are concerned… that’s a matter of preference.  Many experts suggest the “strong” grip, where the “V”s made by your thumbs and index fingers point to your rear shoulder.

This may help some golfers square the face at impact, but it isn’t a one-stop fix.  You may find that your best grip is a “weak” one, where the “V”s point to the target-side shoulder.  Or, if you’re like me, your best grip is “neutral”, where the palms face each other and the “V”s of both hands goes in two different directions.

There’s no right or wrong here, so feel free to experiment!

Two: The Shaft’s Position halfway Down

There’s some people that can play good golf with an outside-in swing, but the majority should be looking more towards the inside-out variety.

Why?  The vast majority of us slice.  We leave the face open at impact.  Couple that with an outside-in swing and it makes it worse.

If we try to get the shaft bisecting out rear bicep on the way down, that will set us up to come in in that ideal inside-out swing path.  It looks like this:

golf swing basics

Keep in mind that, the longer the club, the more likely it’ll be closer to the elbow.  As you can see, this isn’t some set-in-stone rule; if your 8 iron, for example, hovers closer to your shoulder, you’ll be OK.

Three: Impact Position

How you impact the ball goes a long ways towards determining how the ball flies.

My favorite tip, probably ever, I got from Bobby Clampett’s book The Impact Position.  He states that to get that penetrating ball flight, you don’t look at the ball.  You actually look at a spot 2-4 inches in front of the ball as you make your swing.

What this does is, it makes you hold on to the lag just a little bit longer, creating that “late” release.  When you release the club late, good things happen!

It’s casting, or throwing the lag away early, that you want to avoid.  Once you’ve cast the club, the shaft’s lost all the energy you’ve stored in it.  You lose swing speed.  Bad things happen…  Use this tip and you’ll get much better results on the course.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have that “L” shape (made by the targetside forearm and club) on the way to the top.  Some believe that setting it before you get to the top of the backswing is best or easier, but that’s not necessarily true.  Some people just don’t have it, but they create it when they transition from the backswing to the downswing.  Whatever works best for you!

[su_highlight background=”#f9f51d”]Interested in learning how to swing faster?[/su_highlight]

Four: Finish In a balanced Position

Seriously, this seems overly simple, but it’s essential to getting the most out of your swing.  If you’re swinging to the point you’re falling over, you’re spending energy trying to maintain your balance.

That’s energy that could be used to hit the ball with a faster clubhead speed, which means you’re robbing yourself of potential distance.

Not cool.

You also leave yourself open to hitting the ball all over the club face.  Like this:

2 ways golfers use sunscreen

Anytime you miss the “sweet spot” by even a half an inch, you’re losing out on roughly 6% of your potential distance.  You’re also inviting accuracy issues, as well!  As you can see from the picture above, every single shot was nowhere near my best effort.

Conclusion

There’s no need to bog yourself down with 24 freaking swing processes.  That’s WAY too much BS.  When it comes to the golf swing, basics will take you much farther than overloading your brain with junk.  We aren’t machines, you know…

About the Author

Justin Blair is the founder of Green Lantern Golf. When he isn't bringing his 10+ years of excellent craftsmanship experience to golf club fitting, building, and repair, he's geeking out about Star Wars (he's watched them all about 8,437 times!) and things like the MCU and LOTR, he's drinking mead and craft brews. If you wanna know more, check out my About Page!

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