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johnclayton1982

Relationship between backswing speed and downswing speed

11 posts in this topic

Sort of a two-part question.

First, is there one?  (A relationship between how fast you swing back translating into swinging forward harder).

Obviously, at a certain level, a backswing speed is somewhat required.  I had a bad front 9 this past Saturday, and headed to the range.  I was doing drills at a very slow speed working on squaring up my clubface (my fade was starting right of my target line, which is a big problem).  I noticed that I could explode forward even with a very slow backswing, and I was getting really good results swinging back what I felt like was very, very slow slow.  Watching Ryan Moore in contention this weekend as well - very slow backswing, smashed th ball a really long way.  Strangely, the club that saw the most improvement from a deliberately slow backswing was my driver.  While I started the drill (the "clubface control" drill in a few Iacas videos) going slowly, I found that a very slow backswing could still hit my irons the same distance as my "usual" backswing (8 iron about 155).

You read that there is the "tour tempo" theory - that all tour pros have a 3 to 1 ratio from backswing speed to downswing speed.  Is this true?  This doesn't seem right to me, but seems to be accepted wisdom.

I could swing back fairly slow and still hit my 8 to the 150 and it felt like a I had a ton more control.  Increasing my backswing speed didn't do much, on its own, to increase my downswing speed.  However, if th 3 to 1 theory is correct, a slower backswing would mean a slower downswing, all else being equal, which doesn't seem to be the case.

Does 5SK teach anything about the speed of the backswing?  Is there any sort of relationship there to downswing speed, or is it a comfort issue with no "right" answer?

Second, how often do the really "good" players here dial down a club to hit an approach into a green?

I was watching "Golf's Greatest Rounds" and they had the 2013 British.  They showed a "swing vision" sequence that had the clubhead speed for Lee Westwood hitting a 9 iron.  It was about 80 mph, and the shot was relatively short.  Now, this is a links course, but the practice range time got me thinking - if I slow my PW swing down, I can hit a ball straight about 110 with some roll out.  Usually, when I play, I'm hitting the iron that goes the distance to my target - I'm not slowing down and hitting a "longer" club.  However, Westwood clearly did there, and I then saw McDowell hit a 9 from like 95 yards in another tournament (it bounced in).  Is this a common thing among really good players (haivng "slower" shots that roll out with different clubs)?  Is this something that should be worked on on the range?

I'm thinking about how to get my iron play more consistent and it seems like slowing down could be a good way.

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Sounds like they were hitting punch shots to keep them under the wind.

Taking a longer/less lofted club and swinging easier is the preferred way to hit the ball lower and keep it under the wind.

It's not really a "stock" shot, it's something they use for when the situation calls for it.

Practicing it could be useful though, just depends on the person, honestly.

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The ball doesn't have a clue how fast your backswing was.

Some are very slow. Some pause at the top. Some are very fast. Some have no pause at the top. Some get to parallel and beyond. Some don't get to parallel.

Any of them can work just fine.

I think Tiger played some of his best golf when he was taking an extra club (or two) on many of his iron shots.

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Ryan Moore and Hideki Matsuyama have very slow backswing speeds, and have no problem with distance.      The club basically stops at some point in the back swing and changes direction .... don't think the speed of this transition has much if any effect on the downswing.    I have a deliberate (ok, slow) backswing, so that I can do a better job of keeping on plane and not getting an out to in path - seems much easier to me to accomplish this with a slower tempo backswing.    Guys like GMac with that lightning fast backswing amaze me .... no way I could repeat my swing twice the same way with that kind of tempo ...

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Sort of a two-part question.

First, is there one?  (A relationship between how fast you swing back translating into swinging forward harder).

There is a kinetic chain for optimizing consistency and distance. Basically the swing works from the ground up. For example, going into impact the hips, torso, shoulders and arms will be slowing down because they are deaccelerating, while the club head just reaches maximum velocity at impact. That happens naturally in a golf swing with good mechanics.

Tempo is primarily a personal thing. Look at Ernie Els versus Nick Price. I would say they are the complete opposite. Ernie being a very smooth, slow looking swing. Nick Price had a very fast swing, especially his transition and through impact. Same with Graeme, very aggressive transition, very hitty motion.

Does 5SK teach anything about the speed of the backswing?  Is there any sort of relationship there to downswing speed, or is it a comfort issue with no "right" answer?

From my knowledge the 5SK is more concerned with turn rates. How does your hips and shoulders turn in relationship to one another. This has a lot to do with how well you have tempo as well. If you have good turn rates then tempo will feel good, and the swing will feel smoother. Golfers will have their own turn rates, and their own tempo. I would suspect there might be a range in which good golfers have between the turn rates, but not something I studied.

Second, how often do the really "good" players here dial down a club to hit an approach into a green?

I'm thinking about how to get my iron play more consistent and it seems like slowing down could be a good way.

I would say it depends on the shot you want to hit. I am sure some pro's would club down and hit hard, or club up and hit softer. @iacas had me hit a 2nd shot into this par 3 over water. It was 2 clubs more than my first shot, but hitting a more pitchy type shot to keep it low and out of the wind. My first shot banked off the rocks over the water and luckily to the fringe. My soft pitchy 7 iron landed pin high, but right of the green in the rough. The 2nd shot was much more controllable, and contact was much better.

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Obviously, the ball doesn't care what you do during your  backswing, no.

But generally, yes, there is a relationship. There's a little to the "X-Factor Stretch" (not the same as the old "X-Factor"), and generally good golfers have a 3:1 ratio of backswing to downswing, while most average golfers are closer to 4:1 or slower. Since you don't want to slow down your downswing to get to that ratio, we often have people make faster backswings, and they often add a little speed to the downswing as a result.

I think that answer's gonna surprise some people.

Bear in mind to it's a rough generality. I played with a student Saturday who has a very "two-stage" backswing and about a 5:1 ratio, but he pours it on the entire downswing.

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Obviously, the ball doesn't care what you do during your  backswing, no.

But generally, yes, there is a relationship. There's a little to the "X-Factor Stretch" (not the same as the old "X-Factor"), and generally good golfers have a 3:1 ratio of backswing to downswing, while most average golfers are closer to 4:1 or slower. Since you don't want to slow down your downswing to get to that ratio, we often have people make faster backswings, and they often add a little speed to the downswing as a result.

I think that answer's gonna surprise some people.

Bear in mind to it's a rough generality. I played with a student Saturday who has a very "two-stage" backswing and about a 5:1 ratio, but he pours it on the entire downswing.

Great point there.

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A quicker backswing can sometimes result in an incomplete backswing, you don't get all the way to the top.

Back in the early days of launch monitors, about 2002, I was testing out different clubs in a golf shop. I started with 10 shots with my driver to get a baseline.

I found that if I had a swing tempo of 1.8, the ball went at least 10 yards farther than when I had a swing tempo of 1.5. (Half had 1.8, the rest 1.5.. it was either/or). The extra distance? I went all the way to the top and had a smoother downswing than on the "quicker" swing.

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Thanks for all the great replies.

When we say the ratio is 3:1, what are we actually measuring?  Number of seconds (time) or the actual speed of the clubhead?e

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Thanks for all the great replies.

When we say the ratio is 3:1, what are we actually measuring?  Number of seconds (time) or the actual speed of the clubhead?e

Time.

The clubhead speed is constantly changing. At what point would you measure it to get 3:1? :)

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