Written by: Eisman Golf Academy Staff
One of the beauties of golf is that truly, no two swings are the same. So from a teaching perspective, the challenge is to find the right feels and positions that benefit the overwhelming majority of golfers. Having looked at golf swings for over 20 years, we can tell you that conventional wisdom on the ideal golf swing has changed quite a bit. This is mostly due to the advancements in technology with launch monitors, high speed video capture, and more people looking at the golf swing through a more academic and scientific lens.
There are many core swing fundamentals that have definitely stood the test of time, and there are some that, while have their values, can be debilitating to a golfer’s progress. We’d like to cover three of them and not focus too much on the negative affects of them, but moreso the benefits of thinking about these things a little bit differently.
Myth 1: Keep Your Head Down!!!
We have all heard from whoever taught us golf that the reason we just hopped that ball was because we didn’t look at the ball at impact. So, we continue to fixate on the ball at impact.
In the world of martial arts, this concept is also discussed. When you are punching or kicking a target, a wise man famous for wearing a yellow jump suit often showed people the benefits of hitting through the target, not at a target. What happens is when you are trying to hit at a target, all your coordination mechanisms focus on the accuracy of the hit and actually slow down and at impact, there is no more acceleration.
If the concept of keeping your head down is misconstrued in the golf swing, a similar effect can be seen.
What we typically see is when a student is fixated on keeping the head down at impact, it can cause the student to stop rotating her/his body through the ball.
What can happen is this.
Your body is so fixated on making sure your head is still at impact that it can cause your body to stop turning. When the body stops turning, many a golfer can get stuck at impact, causing the loss of spine angle and resulting in standing up and the hands rising at impact.
How does this position look? We love it. David Duval loved it. This can be a byproduct of letting your head rotate past the ball. Note: we are not advocating that you lift your head, but allowing your head and by extension, your spine rotate through the ball to give you much more space to operate through impact, and prevent hand injuries often caused by compensating at impact.
Myth 2: You Need Lag in Your Downswing
We hear about this one everywhere. You need to preserve your wrist angle and load up the club and throw it through impact. Again, we are not saying this does not work for some, but we have seen the ill-effects of this concept applied to a student’s golf swing.
What do you see in this picture? We see someone literally contorting their body in every way possible to maintain “lag.” From this position, hitting the ball consistently depends on how good the timing is with your hands. This position can lead to high rights and duck hooks.
In this picture, the first thing we would like to highlight is how much more the left shoulder is on top of the ball. This is a very powerful position that requires very little deliberate effort to deliver the club face squarely to the ball.
When you look the wrists here, do you see any “lag” here? But we can tell you, this is a great power position, because this allows your big muscles to move through the ball. For every student we have removed artificial lag and allowed the club to get to this position, they have mentioned how effortless generating speed felt.
Myth 3: Keep that Left Arm Straight as a Lead Pole.
This is the trickiest of the three myths we are covering today. Instead of trying to dismiss this notion, allow us to offer a slightly different perspective on this notion.
In theory, keeping the left arm relatively straight is a good idea. It creates more leverage to control the center of mass of the club.
We would recommend that people try to keep the handle of the golf club away from the body. A straight-ish left arm can go a long way in helping achieve that.
But here is where focusing on a straight left arm can go terribly wrong.
This just LOOKS uncomfortable. When we took this picture, we could see how much Won was flexing his left arm muscles to keep the arm very straight. (although he does tend to walk around in shirts that highlight his biceps)
In all seriousness, when golfers tend to fixate on a strong straight lead arm, it often comes at the cost of allowing the rest of the body brace that arm. The only muscles supporting the club are his left bicep and pectoral. As a result, the right side of his body is very passive in supporting the club.
In this picture, Won actually has a little bend in his left arm. But what that reduction in pressure has done is helped him set the club in a much more accommodating position at the top of his backswing. The right arm is supporting the weight of the club as well, while giving him much more effective height at the top of the golf swing.
What Can This Look Like?
There is a reason why Won has modeled for this discussion. We actually spent a good amount of time fixing these exact inhibitors in his golf swing. Here are two pictures showing a free moving head, relatively relaxed arm structure, and “untraditional” lag.
Take note of the height his hands have at the top of the backswing, but do you see the slight bend in the arm? Also, doesn’t his head look like it is on a swivel going back and through? How does he hit the ball?
Well hopefully this video will give you an idea. 230 yard par 3 with water left, lateral hazards along the right side, and he put a 4 iron to 10 feet.
Come see how we can help your golf swing become more consistent, more comfortable, and most importantly, controllable.
Our next piece will focus on three more myths that we feel need to be debunked. Thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you at the Eisman Golf Academy.