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mvmac

Hitting Positions vs Making a Functional Golf Swing

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Two swings from PGA Tour player Daniel Summerhays. The one on the left is from a couple years ago and the one on the right is from earlier this year.

Which A4 is better?

While the arm positions at A4 are different, both swings are very functional and resulted in really solid golf shots.

Golf is hard and some golfers (myself included at times) can get caught up in trying to "hit" certain positions because that position is perceived as being ideal. It can get really silly when golfers try to model or copy swings (Hogan, Moe Norman) in the hopes that achieving Hogan's exact alignments will be the answer to their ballstriking problems. They get caught up in the swing "style" and lose sight of the dynamics that created those positions. They play Position Golf and put t oo many constraints on what the swing "should" look like.

On the other side of the spectrum is the "swing your swing" type of mentality which can be just as bad. These golfers are proud that they're "feel" players, that they've never taken a lesson, never stepped foot on a driving range and their poster boy is obviously Bubba Watson. If I hit it like Bubba I probably wouldn't take lessons either, problem is I don't and neither do 99.99% of golfers.

The truth or the answer to better golf is somewhere in between. Use the best players as commonalities of what to do, focus on one priority at a time and understand that every swing is a little unique and comes with it's own tendencies. There is no perfect swing and there never will be.

So what makes both of these backswings/A4's from Summerhays functional? The quick answer is that Summerhays achieved all 5 Keys with each shot. Taking a closer look we can see that the pivot was basically the same, left shoulder worked down and in under the chin, trail leg lessened in flex as the lead knee gained in flex. Commonalities you'll see with the pivots of great players .

While it's not a Key, there is a common "theme" I tend to see with good players at A4, their rear elbow doesn't flex past 90 degrees and the tricep stays in front of their shirt seam. Even though the rear elbow is "flying" more in the right pic, it's not behind him and the right arm didn't over-flex. This can be important with getting the arms down and in front enough on the downswing.

Also this backswing, this A4, doesn't cause any problems on the downswing, he still gets his weight forward, arms are in sequence with his pivot and the club is in a good position to deliver the club into the ball. As @iacas said in this thread, " but it's not about A6 itself, but how the club gets to A6 and where it's going to."

I'm obviously an advocate for Changing the Picture but there is a difference between changing the trajectory that your lead shoulder travels in order to keep your head steady on the backswing and trying to "hit" a certain number of static positions. The point is, don't try to copy a tour players swing because he played well last week or because you like the way his swing looks, figure out your priority piece and make that better. When using tour players as examples, think of the "big picture" and avoid instruction that is preoccupied with making the swing "look" a certain way.

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Great information.

How much does body type and flexibility have to do with what type of swing is best? Does a good instructor take that into consideration?

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Really good post @mvmac !! I have finally managed to break years of bouncing around of 'swing your own swing' with no true pattern. I am still predominantly swinging my 'own' swing but have now incorporated a consistent priority piece to bring a method to the madness. It is amazing how a slight picture (albeit, a very informed) change can influence a massive difference in the game. Can't thank @iacas and @david_wedzik enough.

V

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@mvmac the swing on the right is better. Really good post, it's definitely the middle way that is best. Tournament next week? Work on positions very very little... Winter timewhere you won't be on the course for 6 months? Lots of slow motion reps changing the priority piece. At least that's what has worked for me.

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Great information.

How much does body type and flexibility have to do with what type of swing is best? Does a good instructor take that into consideration?

Some instructors place too much emphasis on it, "if you're this body type your pivot should be like this and your arms should like this on the backswing". There are tall and lanky guys that have an upright left arm and others that have a left arm that match their shoulders at A4.

With the big picture stuff, body type and flexibility won't make much of a difference. Endomorph golfers still need to keep their head steady, get the weight forward and inline at impact, if the want to play good golf. Body type and flexibility are something to take into consideration when it comes to the arm position on the backswing and coming into impact. It doesn't make sense to try and get a guy like Brendon de Jonge in the same A6 position as Dustin Johnson. There's no need to force it or waste time on something that isn't going to happen.

@mvmac the swing on the right is better.

;-)

Yeah his left arm now is probably somewhere in between the two swings. The swing on the right was a bit of an exaggeration, wasn't even that upright before he started working with Dana and Grant.

Really good post, it's definitely the middle way that is best. Tournament next week? Work on positions very very little... Winter timewhere you won't be on the course for 6 months? Lots of slow motion reps changing the priority piece.

At least that's what has worked for me.

Well said.

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Good example for this thread. Players drawing lines and comparing his A4 against Dustin Johnson and "found" something he didn't need to work on.

http://thesandtrap.com/t/77256/my-swing-ll91/18#post_1140792

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Golf is hard and some golfers (myself included at times) can get caught up in trying to "hit" certain positions because that position is perceived as being ideal. It can get really silly when golfers try to model or copy swings (Hogan, Moe Norman) in the hopes that achieving Hogan's exact alignments will be the answer to their ballstriking problems. They get caught up in the swing "style" and lose sight of the dynamics that created those positions. They play Position Golf and put too many constraints on what the swing "should" look like.

I'm obviously an advocate for Changing the Picture but there is a difference between changing the trajectory that your lead shoulder travels in order to keep your head steady on the backswing and trying to "hit" a certain number of static positions. The point is, don't try to copy a tour players swing because he played well last week or because you like the way his swing looks, figure out your priority piece and make that better. When using tour players as examples, think of the "big picture" and avoid instruction that is preoccupied with making the swing "look" a certain way.

What's the best way to gain sight of those dynamics in the first place? It's either a "kinesthetic perception" thing or a thing you can measure and repeat. In other words, how can you develop this? Or is it something a person either has or doesn't have?

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What's the best way to gain sight of those dynamics in the first place? It's either a "kinesthetic perception" thing or a thing you can measure and repeat. In other words, how can you develop this? Or is it something a person either has or doesn't have?

Basically understanding how the first 3 Keys "create" a lot of the functional positions.

Couple things come to mind.

- Players that are concerned with being "on plane" but don't consider what the body is doing. Saw this today, players was making a crappy pivot, hips sliding back, head moving down and towards the target from 1-4 but he kept making sure his shaft was pointed in the right place. His pivot was causing the lead arm to over rotate and getting the shaft "off plane".

- Lag would be another one. Players see the pros and think they have to "hold" the lag or their wrist angles. Getting the weight forward with a steady head is a big piece players tend to overlook when it comes to lag. Good players typically don't think or feel like they're "holding" their wrist angles on the downswing.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Lihu

What's the best way to gain sight of those dynamics in the first place? It's either a "kinesthetic perception" thing or a thing you can measure and repeat. In other words, how can you develop this? Or is it something a person either has or doesn't have?

Basically understanding how the first 3 Keys "create" a lot of the functional positions.

Couple things come to mind.

- Players that are concerned with being "on plane" but don't consider what the body is doing. Saw this today, players was making a crappy pivot, hips sliding back, head moving down and towards the target from 1-4 but he kept making sure his shaft was pointed in the right place. His pivot was causing the lead arm to over rotate and getting the shaft "off plane".

- Lag would be another one. Players see the pros and think they have to "hold" the lag or their wrist angles. Getting the weight forward with a steady head is a big piece players tend to overlook when it comes to lag. Good players typically don't think or feel like they're "holding" their wrist angles on the downswing.

In today's practice session, I finally started to feel this again. It was great being able to get this feel that I lost back again in a very systematic manner. Going to work on it more during tomorrow's session.

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Shouldn't the goal really be repeatability?  I mean golf swings do change over time.  Your body gets older.  In my case you gain wait (LOL).  So your swing will change.  I have always looked for a swing that could be repeated tired or fresh, day in and day out.

Then it was always set up focus.  Always ensuring I had a proper routine/set up to promote that consistency.  The one thing I have learned from tinkering with my swing though is that things I take for granted suddenly going out of whack.  Luckily I like to experiment and manage to get back on track after a time.  LOL... unfortunately for me I am in one of those slumps at the moment and my swing is more mechanical than fluid while I attempt to gain some sort of feel to my game after the layoff.

I am going to give your post some thought.  Makes total sense not to be too much of any extreme.

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Shouldn't the goal really be repeatability?  I mean golf swings do change over time.  Your body gets older.  In my case you gain wait (LOL).  So your swing will change.  I have always looked for a swing that could be repeated tired or fresh, day in and day out.

Repeating practicing your piece properly, yes but all golfer's swings repeat. We can discuss more Sunday ;-)

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Little OT sound byte: IMO unless you are doing the right priority piece AND practicing quite a bit (atleast a few mins. everyday - hopefully more) - insufficient and improper practice will neither make permanent nor perfect - definitely not perfect. Golf is just diabolically hard to figure out as a whole for a beginner (even not-so-beginners). Chances are very (very very very) low that you know what your priority piece is without the help of a experienced and competent instructor.

I urge all self made experimenters to find one and bring some sanity into the equation.

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Little OT sound byte: IMO unless you are doing the right priority piece AND practicing quite a bit (atleast a few mins. everyday - hopefully more) - insufficient and improper practice will neither make permanent nor perfect - definitely not perfect. Golf is just diabolically hard to figure out as a whole for a beginner (even not-so-beginners). Chances are very (very very very) low that you know what your priority piece is without the help of a experienced and competent instructor.

I urge all self made experimenters to find one and bring some sanity into the equation.

I'm definitely convinced that 5 minutes a day before a round helps. You don't even need to really hit any balls. Going to see if this method works in the long run.

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@mvmac aren't his hips a little more open on the right? Actually there are many things to like about his swing on right. The hip position as well as the better right arm position (it is not THAT much better, but still better). Is the position on the right the latest swing?

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@mvmac aren't his hips a little more open on the right? Actually there are many things to like about his swing on right. The hip position as well as the better right arm position (it is not THAT much better, but still better). Is the position on the right the latest swing?

Yes they are more open and that's something he has been working on for the past year or so. He and his golf instructor would say that the right pic is better. But the left swing is still pretty darn good in the grand scheme of things. It's a swing that produced a lot of good golf shots, he didn't win any tournaments but he also wasn't struggling to keep his card.

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For all you goat humpers out there :-)

You don't have to maintain your "tush line" at impact to play good golf.

Nicklaus13346116_256018104753906_5790581578668239806_o.jpg

Snead, opposite side of the spectrum, both can work.13412013_256016484754068_2620284811188207159_o.jpg

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I believe, strongly, that if there is nothing "wrong" with your swing it isn't yours.  At some point, if you are truly to develop a swing, your swing has to diverge from whatever template, or templates, are serving as its base.  I am all for understanding the dynamics/physics of motion; but ten years of coaching pitchers taught me this: If pitcher A would need a new skeleton to throw like pitcher B - there is no point in insisting that he do this or not do that.  I'll wager there isn't a golfer in the hall of fame that doesn't do something that somebody teaches people never to do.  Flying elbow, anyone?

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