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As Tiger Woods says, “explosive power starts from the ground up”

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“You can’t start a car from a dead start and put it immediately up to 70 miles per hour. No matter how powerful your engine, you must have a gradual acceleration of speed. So it is in the golf swing.” — Mickey Wright

“Explosive power starts from the ground up..flat-out, lower body initiated power…my legs and hips drive forward and my upper body simply unwinds.” –Tiger Woods

We all have a love of power and yearn to achieve more of it in the golf swing. Muscular power is the rate of energy expended and it depends on the amount of energy available and the time taken to expend it. This is really about the amount of weight moved and the time involved to move it. Why is this relevant to the golf swing? Simply put, you have permission to move when making a full swing motion!

The modern swing seems to be all about rotation (torque, twist, turn, X-factor, etc.) are swing buzz words that are understood as the answer to a powerful swing and thus, increased distance. I believe these things can create substantial power, but done alone, could they be creating the possibility for injury. It seems to me that the more that I understand about anatomy, the more I believe that the body is not designed for the said rotational activity by itself in the golf swing. However, if there is some lateral movement allowed, this alone could put less stress on the back and joints, freeing up the shoulders to turn. Thus, shifting and turning (movement) is both accepted and possibly necessary for both power and accuracy. Movement, to me, is natural, athletic, and rhythmical…all words we strive for in sport.

I can appreciate the concern about lateral movement in the swing. We all are afraid of “swaying” or “sliding”. Simply, if your head movement is minimal the motion will instead look efficient and powerful. Additionally, if your swing is a result of a good kinetic chain (the muscle groups in the body working in a series or order of movement) and you utilize a good pivot, I think you will believe in movement.

A good pivot is a shift-turn-shift-turn sequence. Many times, it can seem like a player is only turning because this pivot sequence is happening in such a small amount of space. Upon closer examination, you will see that the most efficient swings incorporate a two-legged balanced start with a one-legged balance top swing position to a one-legged balance finish position.

Basically, you are creating a right side axis that will free the left side to turn outward behind the golf ball. This not only gives more time for the club to get to the top of the backswing, but also permits a good shoulder turn. As it is in the backswing, the forward swing is simply a change of axis and weight shift from the right foot to the left foot with a turn through to a balanced finish position.

The assertive leg drive/thrust/step is desirable to create a “running start” at and through the golf ball, creating optimal clubhead speed. In almost all sports that involve throwing or striking, the athlete makes a “running start” of sorts. Not only does this legwork/hip-work provide additional club speed in the golf swing, but it also gives you the secondary benefit of maintaining balance as your arms swing forward.

There are several ways to “get” this weight transfer ideal. Some like to think of shifting their center of gravity to the right and left and others imagine a lower spine shifting from right to left in a “wrecking ball” image. With both of these images, the top of the spine (head relatively still) remains in a fixed position, acting as a fulcrum for the swing in a pendulum-type motion. The head may move some but will not move in such a way that the movement becomes metronome-like.

Students who learn to swing a golf club with me are given “permission to move”. For so many, it is such a relief and their swings (in terms of power and accuracy) improve and overall enjoyment intensifies. These things, coupled with less strain and pain in the body, have convinced them that this is the way to go. Go back to being an athlete…step and throw the club around the circle like you are throwing a ball and you will be convinced that this is the way to go too!

 

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LPGA Master Professional/PGA Honorary Director Deb Vangellow holds both a BA and a Master Of Science Degree in Health/Physical Education/Coaching and Educational Leadership/Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa and Miami (Ohio) respectively. She currently is the Director Of Instruction at Riverbend Country Club in Houston, Texas. Deb is the 2012 LPGA National Teacher Of The Year, an LPGA, Golf Digest Woman, and Golf For Women “Top 50” Teacher, a Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine “Top Regional/Best in State” Teacher”, a US KIDS GOLF “Top 50 Master Kids Teacher” a Golf Tips Magazine “Top 25 Teacher”, and a GRAA “Elite Top Growth Of The Game Professional”. She served as the National President of the LPGA Teaching And Club Professionals and is a longtime lead instructor in the LPGA Global Education Program in the U.S. and Asia. An educator/coach who offers wellness based developmental programming integrated into her “student centered” philosophy; Deb can be reached at online at www.debvangellowgolf.com.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Jesse V

    Jul 6, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Due to back issues I have had to learn a different way to swing a club.

    I found Jimmy Ballard who’s teachings allow for the shifting of weight in the back swing and of course the shifting of weight forward in the down swing. Has made a tremendous difference in how my back feels after a range session or after a round.

  2. L

    Jul 5, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Eldrick is a liar.
    If he was able to use the ground better he wouldn’t have a broken back. Eldrick swings all upper body. He has no idea how a golf swing really works. Sam Snead did. Lee Trevino did. They actually used their lower body. Eldrick used to get his lower body out of the way with an upper body twist.

    • Travis

      Jul 6, 2019 at 9:11 pm

      The above post might be the worst take on golf that simultaneously lacks any basis in reality. You completely lack an understanding of swing mechanics. Have fun breaking 100.

    • Patricknorm

      Jul 8, 2019 at 4:58 am

      Tiger didn’t hurt his back from golf. Tiger hurt his back training with and for the Navy Seals. Ironically, Tiger lower back became worse when his Achilles and knee issues became pretty well useless. I’ve had exactly the same issues as Tiger regarding my knees, hips and then lower back. The more I’m able to use my legs, bend my knees the less stress on my lower back. Maybe have a look at Matthew Wollf’s swing to see how he uses the ground to increase his swing speed.
      Plus, I think a comprehensive physics course would help you better understand what Tiger was referencing.

      • Jim

        Jul 8, 2019 at 2:46 pm

        That’s bull. He got the celebrity visit.

        He did however pack (buy) 30lbs of muscle into that skinny frame in one winter – years before his specwar days.

        Earl was a Green Beret & they would’ve given him a warm welcome and then run him ragged.

        He did nothing BUDS

      • geohogan

        Jul 8, 2019 at 5:10 pm

        Maybe have a look at Matthew Wollf’s swing to see how he uses the ground to increase his swing speed.

        Yes have a look. Wollf jumps all over the place at impact.
        his left foot slides backwards, which prevents damage to his left knee and spine. If he posted on a straight left leg as Tiger once did
        and /or kept his left foot flat, his lower back would be toast.

        FYI, the only solid connection between the lower body and upper body is in the pelvic basin.
        How many HP are you going to transmit through that connection before damage is done. In some, its permanent.

        The only physics we need to understgand, is Newtons Third Law:
        For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction force.

        When the force created in upper body isnt supported properly by lower body, damage will be done to the weakest point(where lower and upper body are joined.. the spine).

    • James Awad

      Jul 8, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      That ridiculous squat move the big brains & biggest mouths on wrx don’t understand – IS WHAT ATE HIS BACK!

      historically many great players have described ‘what they did’ as they thought they were – but video shows otherwise.

      Jack once said he ‘started his downswing by stomping his left heel down’….I tried it & almost broke my back…same month he ‘corrected himself’ and said he ACTUALLY shifted (drove off) from the right foot FIRST and that inertia started the upper body and arms (torso) to return to center THUS STOMPING THE LEFT HEEL DOWN – AT WHICH POINT THE UNWINDING OF THE LEFT HIP (not the right sided squat & unwind like Tiger) “was what he meant was being the official ‘start’ of the downswing.

      I was discussing the derotational shear forces he was putting on his back with Butch & stood right next to him at his Vegas HQ when he told him ‘Son, that’s going to kill your back’

      Tiger NEVER drove from the ‘ground up’

      He squeezed his hips out from under his head like toothpaste out of a tube by crunching down – then unwinding huge – but the stress on the discs was NOT spread over a ‘greater range of motion’ ala Jimmy Balard

      The best part of his swing – was the set up and huge ‘LEVEL’ LEFT SIDED TURN – ALLOWING His head to move to the right and maintain the same spine tilt orientation he had at address.

      Norman & Els had same move – but shifted their ‘entire being’ back to ‘center’ from the right foot & leg – then unwound from the front hip.

      Unwinding from the front after shifting the weight back CREATES centrifugal force, and if done from a good top of backswing position, allows the arms to just drop – not have to be pulled – into the downswing and produces a natural inside out swing WITHOUT having to ‘pull down’…

  3. Yomomma

    Jul 5, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    To start the downswing simply roll your feet and roll your arms.

  4. geohogan

    Jul 5, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    ” Its old time golf wisdom and its wrong.”

    Tiger fired his lower body to detriment of his knee and spine.

    Upper body firing is also old time golf misconception.

    It is momentum beginning with the feet and ground, that begins the kinematic chain and it is properly sequenced deceleration of proximal to distal that results in acceleration of the clubhead.

    Only when shoulder joints, elbow joints and wrist joints act as free swinging hinges does the multiplication of force result; NOt power hinges.
    A critical distinction.

  5. PSG

    Jul 5, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    A common myth that hurts a lot of players. 76% of the power in the golf swing comes from shoulder turn, the right elbow unbending, and the wrists firing at the proper time.

    If your article was true nobody could hit it 300 yards on their knees. But they can. Because the vast majority of power comes from the upper, not lower, body.

    The issue is that everyone *feels* like it comes from the lower body because it doesn’t come from your upper body’s muscles, it comes from your upper bodies joints. This is a critical distinction. You are not hitting with your biceps and lats, you are hitting with your shoulder ball-and-socket joints and elbow joint.

    Nonetheless, the hips add about 8 mph and a forward weight drive can get up to around 14 mph. The rest comes from above the waist. You can put your lower body in concrete and hit 110 on trackman. Try doing that without your upper body firing. You’d be lucky to break 50.

    Stop. telling. people. this. nonsense. Its old time golf wisdom and its wrong.

    • JCGolf

      Jul 5, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      You are right and also not right at the same time. A swing from the knees also results in the hips rotating a decent amount, it just removes the lateral component of the swing and removes the requirement for a strong legs because the plane is extremely flat so there is hardly any upward/downward force and the force is transmitted through your rigid femurs rather than knees/quads/hamstrings.

      The best players in the world have 70% of their ground pressure on the front foot before the downswing even begins. From there it is an upper body unwind, much like a baseball swing and the legs react to the force generated above, rather than the legs driving the movement. All the lower body does is stabilize the movement. On your knees the legs cant do much, but the force goes through the femurs.

    • Sean M

      Jul 8, 2019 at 2:48 pm

      This lower body myth has to end. Distance comes from speed. And speed is generated from the upper body. Tiger Woods and my grandmother have the same lower body speed.

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Instruction

Kyle Berkshire’s long drive wisdom wins!

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This one is a doozie! So many awesome elements to take away from Kyle Berkshire and implement them immediately in your golf swing for effortless power in the swing. From the set up with strong grip to the timing mechanism to start the action and give it a heavy flow, to the huge backswing and massive load in the ground in the transition to the deepest delivery towards the target there is in the sport! Watch and learn long ball wisdom right here.

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Stickney: Correctly auditing your ballflight without technology

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One of the biggest advances in golf instruction, in my opinion, was the adoption (by the masses) of the “new ball-flight laws.” While this information was first identified in “The Search for the Perfect Swing” as well as “The Golfing Machine” books it was not truly taught in the mainstream by teachers until the last decade. In fact, there are still millions of golfers who are still in the dark as it pertains to how curvature is created.

Thankfully, launch monitors have become more popular and now most people have some type of ability to hit balls using Trackman, etc., and this has helped inform the masses as to what is really happening during the impact interval. In today’s article, I want to show you how to audit your ball-flight if you DO NOT have access to a launch monitor. And if you’ll ask yourself these few simple questions you will have a much better idea as to what is happening and why your ball is doing what it’s doing!

“The New Ball-Flight Rules”

  • The ball begins mostly in the direction of the face angle direction at impact (Face Angle)
  • The ball will curve away from the path with a centered hit on the face (Path)
  • The amount of curvature at the apex is mostly determined by the difference in direction between where the face points at impact and the direction of the path at impact (Face to Path)
  • The impact point on the clubface can render the above obsolete or exaggerate it depending on where it’s impacted on the face (Impact Point)

Now that you know and understand the rules, here’s how you audit your ball’s flight without a launch monitor present…

Find your Impact Point Before Making Any Other Judgements

Before we begin delving deeply into your ball’s flight, let’s first stop for a second and figure out what our impact bias is currently. Yes, everyone has an impact bias—some are more toe-based while others are more heel-sided. It’s just the way it works and it’s mega-important. If you don’t have control of your impact point then all else is moot.
In order to do so, first hit a few balls on a flat lie and spray the face with Dr. Scholl’s spray, then take a look at what you see on the face, where are the marks? I’m not asking you for perfection here, because if you hit it slightly on the toe or slightly on the heel then you’re ok.

However, if your average clustering of shots is extremely biased on the toe or the heel then stop and figure out WHY you are hitting the ball off-center. Until you can contact the ball in the center of the face (within reason) then you will not be able to control your ball’s curvature due to gear effect.

If your impact point clustering is manageable, then ask yourself these three questions to truly understand your ball’s flight…

Number 1: Where did the ball begin?

I want you to draw a straight line from your ball through your target as you see in the left photo in your mind so you now have a “zero” reference. If you need to create this visual on the practice tee then you can put a rope or some string on the ground between the ball and the target creating a straight line from the ball through the rope and onward to the target itself.

Now back to the shot above, as you can see at impact, this player’s ball started slightly LEFT of his target-line—as shown by the arrow in the left frame which depicts the face angle at impact. In the right frame, you can easily see the ball beginning a touch left right from the beginning.

The numbers prove what we discussed earlier

  • The face direction at impact was -2.8 degrees left of the target
  • The ball’s launching direction is -1.7 degrees left of the target

As we know the ball begins mostly in the direction of the face and since the face was left of the target the ball also began slightly leftward as well.

So by paying attention to your ball’s starting direction as it pertains to the “zero line” (or where you’re trying to go) you can guess where the face is pointing at impact.

Number 2: Which direction did the ball curve?

Now, take a second and look at the right frame: We see that the ball curved leftward which means the path had to be more rightward than where the face was pointing at impact. If the ball begins where you want it to start and curves the way you want then you have the face and path in the correct place!

If we want to audit the numbers just to be sure, then let’s take a deeper look:

Trackman shows that the club path was 1.9 degrees right of the target and we just saw that the face was -2.8 degress left of the target on this shot. With centered impact anytime the face direction at impact is left of the path the ball will curve leftward. The negative spin-axis of this shot of -7.9 tells us that the ball is moving to the left as well.

If you want the ball to curve to the left then the path must be further right than that and vice-versa for a fade…pretty simple, right?

Number 3: How Much Did the Ball Curve at The Apex?

Question three is an important one because it helps us to understand what our face to path relationship is doing.

Curvature is created when the face and path point in different directions (with a centered hit) and the bigger the difference between the face and path direction the more the ball will curve…especially as you hit clubs with lower lofts.

Every player wants to see a certain amount of curvature. Some players want very little curve, thus their face to path numbers are very close together while others want more curve and the face to path numbers are larger. It does not matter what amount of curvature you like to “see” as the player…all flights will work. Think Moe Norman on one extreme to Bubba Watson on the other.

To close…

First, you must hit the ball in the center of the face to have a predictable curvature if you hit it all over the face then you invoke gear effect which can exaggerate or negate your face to path relationship.

Second, where did the ball begin? Most players whom draw the ball fear the miss that starts at their target and moves leftward (as depicted in the photo above) this is a FACE issue. The face is left of the TARGET at impact and thus the ball does not begin right enough to begin at the correct portion of the target.

If you hit the ball and it starts correctly but curves too much from right to left then your path is to blame.

Third, if your ball is curving the correct direction then your path is fine, but if it’s doing something other than what you want and you are starting the ball where you want then your path is either too far left or right depending on which way the ball is curving.

Fourth, if your ball curvature at the apex is moving too much and your ball is starting where you want then your path is too far left or right of your face angle at impact exaggerating your face to path ratio. The bigger the difference between these two the more the ball curves (with a centered hit) with all things being equal.

Samples to view

This is a path issue…the ball began correctly but curved too much rightward. Don’t swing so much leftward and the face-to-path will be reduced and the ball will curve less.

This is a great push draw…the ball began correctly and curved the correct amount back to the target

This is a face issue at impact…the ball did not begin far enough to the right before curving back leftward and the target was missed too far to the left

Take your time when auditing your ball’s flight, and I believe you’ll find your way!

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Clement: Should you hinge your wrists early or late in the backswing?

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Today’s video is a big one too! So many are wondering when to let the wrists hinge in the backswing; too early and you cut off too much arc and loose width; too late and you throw your center off-kilter and ruin your contact and direction! This video gets you dialed!

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