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In this video, I use one of my students as an example of how trail shoulders mobility can affect the golf swing. It is important to note that many structural factors can affect the golf swing. For the golfer in this video, the trail shoulder is just one example of how we can address physical limitations to improve the swing.

The drill I give this student utilizes the weight of the club to not only stretch the shoulder but to also start to retrain the motor patterns to get the club in a better position to start the downswing.

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Dan Gaucher is a Teaching Professional at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Connecticut. He also host a very successful podcast called "Rebel With Out A Par". Dan also has experience in the health and fitness industry which has allowed him to further understand the biomechanics of the body and how it correlates to the golf swing. Dan enjoys being a student of both the human body and the game of golf. Dan works with players of all abilities from beginners to aspiring professionals.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Sep 11, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    If a golfer can turn the palm of his trail hand toward the sky at the top of the BS
    then he can shallow the club. Simply keep the palm facing the sky.

    Gravity drop and the hands shallow the club.

  2. Greg

    Sep 11, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Is there a role for the “Feel the stretch” device? The most important stretch in golf. feelthestretch.com

  3. tom stickney

    Sep 10, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Great points here…most teachers fail to understand the role of the shoulder girdle and how it can influence your transition.

    • ogo

      Sep 10, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      It’s imperative that the shoulder and chest structure be evaluated to determine the range of motion of the arms. Most instructors ignore this physical aspect of the golfer.

      • geohogan

        Sep 12, 2018 at 12:41 pm

        The deltoid has three distinct functions that correspond to the three bands of muscle fibers. Contraction of the anterior fibers flexes and medially rotates the arm by pulling the humerus towards the clavicle

        If trail deltoid contracts OTT will result. (humerus toward the clavicle)
        Palm of trail hand facing the sky disengages the deltoid.

        If a golfer can hold the proverbial ‘waiters tray’at top of BS, there is no need of physio.

  4. Alex

    Sep 10, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Don’t understand the logic here. Joe can rotate the right shoulder properly with only the right hand on the club, but has trouble when the left hand is applied. Then you conclude that his right shoulder is limited, when it seems that the problem is using both arms together. What am I missing?

    • Geoff

      Sep 11, 2018 at 9:19 pm

      Joe does not rotate properly with right hand only drill …. and it’s a drill to start lightly stretching and to benchmark his progress. Pause vid at 2:41 …. he gets maybe 2-3 more degrees of ER (guessing) …. but he has to “cheat” it with abduction and horizontal abduction. Also keep his elbow extended which mechanically lengthens biceps to further pull into ER. The “cheat” is the point … it stretches the internal rotators (cuff, pecs, biceps). Again at 2:41 … no way he gets his left hand on the grip.

      Dan’s take home point in a 4 min video is “don’t prescribe motion and positions before checking for anatomical roadblocks”

      Dan is TPI Certified and routinely refers out to PT, AT, nutritionists, and Medical TPI professionals. They work out kinks and Dan goes to work with radar based LM’s, 3D motion analysis, and an approach that matches the learning style of every client …. even my son who is one of the toughest nuts to crack.

  5. mike

    Sep 10, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Range of motion is too often taken for granted . Bravo on reminding us that everyone has individual muscular – skeleton issues .
    Very frustrating trying to do something your body isn’t capable of .
    Good instruction will take these into consideration and find a way to fix or work around

    • ogo

      Sep 10, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      If the pecs are too bulky the chest will interfere with arm positions in the back and downswing. That’s what it looks like.

  6. Kevin

    Sep 10, 2018 at 3:10 am

    Would have been helpful to see an example of good external rotation (maybe yours) to compare with Joe’s. We have no idea watching the video how short of optimal is Joe.

  7. ogo

    Sep 9, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Excellent, excellent biomechanical analysis and remedy for internal and external shoulder rotation. This is the kind of instruction that is so beneficial for this forum.

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WATCH: What to do when you’re short sided

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Top-100 instructor Tom Stickney shows you how to avoid compounding a mistake when you’ve missed the ball on the wrong side of the green.

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Why flaring your left foot out at address could be a big mistake

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In his book “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” published in 1957, Ben Hogan recommended that golfers position their right foot at a 90-degree angle to the target line, and then position their left-foot a quarter of a turn outward at a 15-degree angle (Note: He was writing for right-handed golfers). The purpose of the left-foot foot position was to assist in the “clearing of the left hip,” which Hogan believed started his downswing.

Through this Hogan instruction book and the others he wrote through the years, there four categories that defined his advice;

  1. He accurately described what was occurring in his swing.
  2. He described a phantom move that never occurred.
  3. He described something that occurred but to a lesser degree than indicated.
  4. He inaccurately described what was happening in his swing.

As evidenced by today’s modern video, Hogan did not open up his left hip immediately as he described. This piece of advice would fall into the fourth category listed above — he inaccurately described what was happening in his swing. In reality, the first move in his downswing was a 10-12 inch shift of his left hip forward toward the target before his left hip ever turned open.

SPINNING OUT

Those amateur golfers who strictly adopted his philosophy, opening the left hip immediately, ended up“spinning out” and never getting to their left foot. The spin-out was made even worse by the 15-degree angle of the left foot Hogan offered. That said, based on Hogan’s stature in the golf world, his advice regarding the positioning of the feet was treated as if it were gospel and adopted by both players and teachers. Since that time his hip action has been debated, but the positioning of the left foot has remained unquestioned — until today.

THE FLARED FOOT POSITION

The flared position of his left foot may or may not have been of assistance in helping Hogan achieve the desired outcome in his swing. That really is not the point, but rather that over a half-century there has never been a voice that argued against the flared foot position he advocated.

The rest of the golf world accepted his advice without question. In my opinion, the left foot position advocated by Hogan has harmed countless golfers who slowly saw their swings fall apart and wondered why. His well-meaning advice was a poisoned pill, and once swallowed by golfers it served to eventually erode what was left of their left side.

DEAD WRONG

The subject of this piece is not to debate Hogan’s hip action but the piece that accompanied it, the 15-degree flare of the left foot. I’m of the opinion that it is not only wrong. Because of its toxic nature, it is DEAD WRONG.  The reason has to do with the tailbone, which determines the motion of the hips in the swing. The more the left foot opens up at address, the more the tailbone angles backward. That encourages the hips to “spin out” in the downswing, which means they have turned before the player’s weight has been allowed to move forward to their left foot and left knee.

As a consequence of the hips spinning out, players move their weight backward (toward the right foot), encouraging a swing that works out-to-in across the body. You can see this swing played out on the first tee of any public golf course on a Saturday morning.

FOOT FLARE ISSUES

The problem with the 15-degree foot flare is that it promotes, if not guarantees, the following swing issues:

In the backswing, the flared left foot:

  1. Discourages a full left- hip turn;
  2. Encourages the improper motion of the left-knee outward rather than back
  3. Reduces the degree that the torso can turn because of the restrictions placed on the left hip.

In the downswing, the flared left foot: 

  1. Promotes a “spinning out” of the left hip.
  2. Does not allow for a solid post at impact.

STRAIGHT AHEAD

In working with my students, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most advantageous position for the left foot at address is straight ahead at a 90-degree angle to the target line. The reason is not only because it encourages a positive moment of the player’s weight forward in the downswing, but it also improves the player’s chances of making a sound backswing.

THE POWER OF THE LEFT HEEL

There is an inherent advantage to placing the left-foot at a 90-degree to the target-line. It is the strongest physical position against which to hit the ball, as it provides a powerful post at impact that serves to increase both power and consistency.

JACK NICKLAUS

A number of years ago, Jack Nicklaus appeared on the cover of Golf Digest. The byline suggested that in studying Jack’s footwork, they had discovered something that up to that point was unknown. The “secret” they were describing was that after lifting his left heel in the backswing, he replanted it in the downswing with his heel closer to the target line than his toe. The intimation was that this might be a secret source of power in his swing.  This was hardly a “secret,” and something that Nicklaus was probably unaware of until it was pointed out to him, but it’s a demonstration of the fact that his natural instinct was to turn his foot inward, rather than outward, on the downswing.

THE DISCUS THROWER

The discus thrower whirls around in a circle as he prepares to throw. On the final pass, he plants his left toe slightly inward, relative to his heel, because this is the most powerful position from which to cast the discus. This position allows the thrower to draw energy from the ground while at the same time providing a strong post position from which additional torque can be applied. The point is that as the discus thrower makes the final spin in preparation for the throw, he does not turn the lead foot outward. Why? Because if it were turned outward, the potential draw of energy from the ground would be compromised.

The same is true when it comes to swinging a golf club for power, and you can test the two positions for yourself. After turning the left foot into a position that is 90 degrees to the target line, you will immediately note the ease with which you can now turn away from the target in addition to the strength of your left side post at the point of impact. Conversely, when you turn your left foot out, you will feel how it restricts your backswing and does not allow for a strong post position on the downswing.

REPAIRING YOUR SWING

Do you have trouble cutting across the ball? You might look to the position of your left foot and the action of the left hip. The first step would be to place your left foot at a 90-degree angle to the target line. The second step would be to turn you left hip around in a half circle as if tracing the inside of a barrel. The third step would be to feel that you left your left hip remains in the same position as you scissor your weight towards your left toe, and then your right heel, allowing the club to travel on the same path. The combination of these changes will encourage the club to swing in-to-out, improving the path of your swing.

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WATCH: Over-the-top vs. over-and-through: 1 destroys a swing, 1 can save it

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This video is about OVER-AND-THROUGH, which is very different than being over-the-top. Over-and-through is a great recovery from a backswing that is not quite in the right position. Over-the-top is flat-out a full default to the ball. See how you can bridge the gap with getting your swing to deliver better to the target!

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