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The Ps (Positions) or As (Alignments) in the Golf Swing

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

If you'll allow, I'd like to stray from the "op/ed" nature of this column for a moment to cover the "positions" or "Ps" in the golf swing. For many this will be review, but many will hopefully learn about these "positions" in the golf swing.

 

Update 2012-02-23: In the 5 Simple Keys® (5SK) world we've chosen to call these the alignments in the golf swing, as we wish to put less emphasis on "positions" and view them more as checkpoints at which some measurements might be taken.

 

I'll choose Charlie Wi for many of the pictures simply for consistency's sake and because I know this particular swing illustrates something at A6.

 

A1 - Address

Very simple one to understand, as A1 is the setup or address position. You can judge things like posture and overall setup, ball position, handle location (too close to the thighs, leaning back or forward too much), the hang of the arms, weight location (toes/heels as well as forward/back).

 

 

P1

 

A2 - Shaft Horizontal (Backswing)

This position allows you to look at how quickly the shoulders are turning, how quickly the wrists are hinging/cocking, how much the wrists and forearms are rolling, whether the head is translating or staying relatively stable, how much the shoulders have turned, etc. This is one of the somewhat "looser" positions because the wrist cock will determine the location of A2. For example, Charlie Wi hits a fairly normal A2 position (albeit one with a lot of depth):

P2

 

But Rickie Fowler's A2 looks funny because he doesn't roll his forearms at all in the start of the backswing:

P2_Rickie

 

Steve Stricker sets his wrists later, so the shaft "ascends" more slowly and "arrives" at A2 a little "late."

P2_Stricker.jpg

Late wrist sets will tend to look like the club has been taken more inside or under than it really has, and early wrist sets will tend to look the opposite.

 

A3 - Lead Arm Horizontal (Backswing)

When the lead arm is parallel we can check the wrist cock (typically around 90 degrees), we can check the shaft plane and the plane of the hands (where are they coming out of the body - base of the bicep? Top of the shoulder? Mid-way?), we can check relative shoulder turn (some people stop turning here, some haven't turned enough because they've just swung their arms back). We can check the head, the shoulder pitch becomes evident down the line, and more.

P3.jpg

 

Note that Rickie's backswing is a product not of quickly cocking the wrists but of allowing very little rotation of the forearms or wrists ("accumulator #3" in TGM). His left arm to shaft measurement at A3 is only 107 degrees).

P3_Rickie.jpg

 

Of course, Steve Stricker's is even more:

P3_Stricker.jpg

 

A4 - Top of the Backswing

Wherever this player reaches the top of the backswing, that's A4. Note that a shaft isn't necessarily "laid off" if it points left of the target before the shaft reaches horizontal, nor is it surely "across the line" if it is pointing right but past parallel. Many things can be checked at A4 - wrist conditions, shoulder tilt, any translation off the ball, plane, right elbow flex, left arm position, weight/pressure/CG location, etc.

 

P4.jpg

 

A5 - Lead Arm Horizontal (Downswing)

This position can tell us many things as it's early enough in the downswing that a player can still make changes much more easily to affect A6 and A7. How far "in" is the left arm? What's the shaft done based on the wrist conditions? How's the right elbow working - towards the belt buckle or staying behind the rib cage? Have the hips begun going forwards? Has the head started tipping back? What's the plane of the shaft like?

 

P5.jpg

 

Note that in Rickie Fowler's case, "lag" appears excessive but it's an optical illusion. He's simply "laid the shaft down" so much that the face-on view is not a good indicator of lag.

P5_Rickie.jpg

 

See the blue lines on the left? Imagine they represented his left arm and clubshaft. Imagine he rolled his left forearm and wrist enough to lay the shaft down that much. Look at how much "lag" it would appear he has from the face-on view! In reality, "lag" should be measured from perpendicular to the plane containing the three points: left shoulder, left wrist, clubhead. It might surprise you to know that Rickie doesn't have a ton more lag than good ol' Steve Stricker, but the camera position and the "laying the shaft down" throws you off:

 

P5_Stricker.jpg

 

 

A6 - Shaft Horizontal (Downswing)

A key position. There are a lot of things you can check here, but one of the keys is where the clubhead is relative to the hands. Charlie is pretty well "on-plane" here:

P6.jpg

 

Note the two lines I've drawn. If your clubhead appears beneath or inside of your hands - the location of the green line - you're quite likely going to send the path of the golf club out to the right. If your clubhead is outside your hands or above the plane like in the right, you're quite likely sending the clubhead path left. The clubhead in the red case is "over the top" of the hands plane - one of a few definitions for that term ("over the top").

 

Though A6 is highly sensitive to camera position, it's clear that Steve Stricker is going to "hit out" at this ball, while Rickie Fowler - despite "laying the shaft down" heavily from P3.5 to P5 - is coming down pretty well on-plane.

P6_Rickie_Stricker.jpg

 

Skipping ahead a little bit, I think this picture will make a little sense to people. I've traced the clubhead in both Steve Stricker's swing and Charlie Wi's (Rickie's is similar to Charlie's). As you can see, the tangential line at the bottom of the swing arc in Steve Stricker's swing - called the "base plane line" or "base line" - is pointed well to the right. If you imagine creating a plane on the arrows, the base of it would rest along the blue arrow. Charlie's (and Rickie's) plane is much more "at the target" than Steve's.

 

Planes_Stricker_Wi.jpg

 

Steve Stricker plays a ball that pushes and draws a little, and catches the ball just in front of of low point to help the clubhead go a little left to take some of the draw curve off of his golf ball.

 

Final note on P6: good golfers tend - nine indeces on downward (with increasing frequency) to get "under" plane or "stuck" (hello, Tiger Woods!), while poor golfers tend to be "over."


 

A7 - Impact

Things to look for here are fairly obvious: clean contact, clubhead traveling in which direction (ideally +/- a few degrees), handle leaning forward an appropriate amount (0 to 10 degrees, rarely more; less with the longer clubs, more with the shorter ones), etc.

P7.jpg

 

 

A8 - Shaft Horizontal to the Ground on Follow-Through

A9 - Lead Arm Horizontal to the Ground on Follow-Through

In virtually every golf swing, the shaft is horizontal to the ground before the lead arm, but the two are sometimes very closely timed. These images are from before A8 and A9, but honestly, A8, A9, and A10 are almost never used in discussing the golf swing because they're simply an indicator of what's come before. They are however quite useful in instruction, as a student modeling a position at A8 or A9 will introduce changes to his motion prior to A7 which will have (if the instruction is correct) positive results.

 

P8.jpg

 

A10 - End of Swing

Again, debatable, but for all practical purposes, A9 is almost never discussed. It's too easily "faked." :-)

 

P9.jpg

 

post #2 of 23

Makes it so much more simple when talking about the swing.  Also sounds cool a3_biggrin.gif

post #3 of 23

Awesome.

post #4 of 23

At P4, what is the ideal position of the wrists to allow for the best chance of the face coming square or slightly open at impact....cupped, flat, etc and how does that affect the club appearing to look laid off or across the line at the top?

 

 

post #5 of 23

Great explanation Erik!

post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deryck Griffith View Post

At P4, what is the ideal position of the wrists to allow for the best chance of the face coming square or slightly open at impact....cupped, flat, etc and how does that affect the club appearing to look laid off or across the line at the top?

 

 



Flat left wrist or slightly cupped , this is a good one

 

Grant and Charlie P4 dtl.jpg

 

post #7 of 23

Mike, wouldn't cupping, flat or bowing at P4 be a variable like grip, stance, alignment, and ball position? The great players each seem to have a different wrist angle at the top of their backswing, but it matches whatever swing type they have.

post #8 of 23

Erik,

 

Thanks for the great writeup.

 

I always wondered if a laid off position made the FO picture look laggy. I would guess there is 15* of difference in the left P5 images between Wi and Fowler. So would you say the same applies to other similar players like Garcia, Glover, Hogan, Chad Campbell?

 

 

post #9 of 23

Awesome.  Thanks Erik.  I didn't realize the P2 thing you noted about Stricker.  I also set my wrists pretty late, and in watching myself on video recently I've noticed that my club head is pretty far behind my hands at P2.  I didn't realize that that was at least partially just a function my late wrist set, and maybe I don't have to totally rebuild my swing.  Though I've been trying to set my wrists a bit earlier in pursuit of keeping the club head more in line with my hands and it's actually been helping my swing generally.

post #10 of 23

I am thinking when 3D technology becomes commonplace and swings are viewable from front, back, above, under, behind, etc... in 3D, the golf swing will be so much better explained.

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deryck Griffith View Post

At P4, what is the ideal position of the wrists to allow for the best chance of the face coming square or slightly open at impact....cupped, flat, etc and how does that affect the club appearing to look laid off or across the line at the top?

 

To be clear, these aren't positions I'm specifically relating to any one way of swinging the club. And even within that "one way" there are several ways you could orient your wrists at the top. If you have a matching component later on (it could be the attachment, it could be how much you roll the arms or twist the shaft on the downswing, etc.) then you could do anything from cupped to bowed to flat.

 

"Flattish" would be in the middle, of course.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JetFan1983 View Post

Mike, wouldn't cupping, flat or bowing at P4 be a variable like grip, stance, alignment, and ball position? The great players each seem to have a different wrist angle at the top of their backswing, but it matches whatever swing type they have.


Exactly.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nevets88 View Post

I am thinking when 3D technology becomes commonplace and swings are viewable from front, back, above, under, behind, etc... in 3D, the golf swing will be so much better explained.


Eh. I think we know plenty now, and I think that we have to be careful that the more technology we throw at things, the more expensive golf instruction becomes. We've had 3D data for years. It's great information for instructors, and they can pass it on to students.

post #12 of 23

Hall of Fame post Erik. Thank You! c5_banana.gif

 

Kevin

post #13 of 23

Great topic, great info, extremely well done, 'iacas'.  In lessons that I have given over the years, including to my 2 kids who play the game as well, I do alot of slow motion, swing position drills, sometimes with a weighted club (old 8 iron I filled the shaft with BB's).  I have simplified it to P1, the setup, this is where we work on grip, alignment, stance , etc.  P2, is the backswing at waist high, (where is the toe of the club, where is the shaft pointing at this time, full extension of your left arm, straight, not stiff).  P3 is the rotation from from waist high to the top of your backswing, (where are your hands in conjunction with your shoulders, straight but not stiff left arm).  Then we work on swinging smoothly from the top of the backswing to a balanced, belt buckle at the target finish.  Thanks for explaining and displaying these positions for examples, great info.

post #14 of 23

Excellent post, thank you. 

post #15 of 23

Good Stuff Erik....the only position you missed was the one I get into every now and then.....the "P-O" position which follows the P-9.

 

This is my "pissed off" position!

 

PB

post #16 of 23

Great Post, and easily digestable.  

post #17 of 23
Awesome indeed
a3_biggrin.gif
post #18 of 23

Nice Post E!

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