Archives for September 17, 2010

Improve Golf Swing – Building A Better Swing At Your Address!

To truly improve golf swing performance all golfers need to perform a close examination of their address.

The address reveals much about a golfer’s handicap and quality of movement – signaling to the world the level of golf they are capable of playing!

Golfer’s looking to improve golf swing performance need to fully understand that a correct address shapes the perfect swing pattern from beginning to end.

Shaping the perfect swing pattern is essential to improve golf swing performance. It is through this shaping that the golfer learns to feel their swing.

In his book, “On Learning Golf”, author Percy Boomer offers some expert advice to help golfers improve golf swing performance. He explains, in great detail, the address to the reader – helping them put feeling into their form.

Boomer writes;

“The experienced eye can make a very accurate guess at the handicap of a player after seeing them make a few practice swings, and as soon as their address is completed we can be sure of their quality.

Now at first glance it might seem that it would be simple enough for anyone to learn to stand correctly before the ball—to cultivate an impressive address. Yet there is this difference which enables the cognizant to recognize even the subtle variation between the good and the very good golfer before the ball has been struck.

It is an interesting point and one of some practical importance, because it is directly related to the true aim and purpose of the preparatory movements. We can recognize a golfer’s quality in these movements because they express both what they intend to do and how they intend to do it. The difference between the good and the ordinary golfer is that the good one feels their shot through their address.

Whether or not they have learned deliberately to play by feel, the good player feels, through their carriage and balance as they addresses the ball, the coming movement that will bring their club face squarely against the ball. Briefly to analyze the feeling of carriage and balance—they feel they are set inwards and behind the back of the ball and their legs, hips and shoulders are all braced, inside and behind the ball.

Now this is a point where I must ask you to stop and consider and analyze carefully exactly the meaning I want to convey by the word braced because this is most important to a realization of the correct feel of the body.

My dictionary defines a brace as “anything that draws together and holds tightly,” and I think that is clear and that it expresses the feeling we have when we are braced. But you may try it and promptly come back with the question, “But how can I feel braced and yet not become stiff?” A very pertinent question, and I will try and give you the answer.

When we take lessons in deportment we are told to walk with our hips pulled in, in other words to brace our hips. Yet we know that this does not make our carriage stiff; it makes it not stiff but firm and decisive.

So also, when I tell you as you address the ball to keep your elbows close together, you will immediately feel a sensation of drawing in your elbows the one towards the other. As a consequence your arms will not feel like two separate and independent arms but like a linked united pair of arms; yet they will not feel stiff. The “holding together” of your shoulder blades holds the top of your structure together and links up with the power from your hips. You will find your biceps being pulled into your thorax, your shoulders and arms being drawn together, and, if then the stomach is drawn inward, one definite (inward) direction of brace is set up.

The second direction in which we brace our bodies at the approach is upwards, yes upwards, towards the sky! The natural tendency as we stand to our ball is to droop from our hips and curve our backs. But if we are good golfers we resist this tendency by an upward brace—slightly bent over but pulled up to our full height and neither drooped nor curved.

Set like this we will feel our left side as straight as a poker, though not as stiff as one, and our left foot pushing down into the ground. Of course as the weight is equally divided between the feet, this pushing down is a feeling in the right foot also. The result is a highly desirable one; as a reaction to our upward brace, we feel ourselves standing firm as we address the ball—a thing we are frequently told to do but rarely told how to do!

So with our hips, shoulders, and arms braced and the body stretched upwards and braced, we no longer feel a loose, flabby, drooping figure but an upright and yet compact one. But we have one more direction of brace to add—this comes from the hips and I can best describe it as a twist forward which completes the bracing up of the whole body at the address.

As we stand to the ball our feet must not be too wide apart; the right foot should be at right angles to the line of flight, the left one pointed slightly out; a line across the toes of both feet should (like the line between the shoulders) be parallel to the line of flight. From this position, we twist our hips round (horizontally) to the left, not as far as they will go but as far as they can go in comfort, i.e., without pulling our hips out of shape. How far this is depends on how supple we are. Probably the degree of movement will be only slight, but the effect of this forward leftward twist is to tauten up the whole body without stiffening it.

Because we are anchored, first by our feet to the ground and secondly by our square-set shoulders held up against the forward pull of the hips, the right knee does not resist so we find our left side straight and our right side bowed inwards. And these, left side straight and right side bowed in, are very definite feels which come from (and can be used to check) correct bracing.

These three directions of brace should now make us feel a complete unit, which we can think of as “the set.” I think they are what makes the good golfer feel compact. They give the feeling that we can carry the club head back away from the ball by the body twist inwards and behind the back of the ball. In other words, if you are properly braced there will be no sensation of wanting to lift the club head up. This is important; we should never feel that we lift the club head, but that we carry it back around with the body and along the ground.

This feeling that the club head keeps down is equally necessary in the follow through, after we have sent the ball on its way. We must feel that we have dispatched the ball out and along but not up“.

Improve golf swing performance by examining where it all begins – at the address!

Try incorporating Boomer’s advice into your golf swing practice routine.

Check back soon for more posts and tips to improve golf swing performance!

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