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Handicap Index

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  1. In another topic, the idea that the arms contribute (significantly) to clubhead speed was discussed. Some feel the arms are "passive" or exert no "effort" while others feel they are anything but passive and exert a great amount of effort. The video and the discussion below is meant to continue that conversation. Is this scientific? No. Am I able to do each of the three variations perfectly? No, but I tried as hard as I could, and was completely willing for the "turn only" swings to demonstrate a higher speed than they got (and, TBH, I was surprised at how much speed I could generate with just the arms). Does it make clear that the arms contribute (and significantly so) to clubhead speed with a golf club? I think so, yeah. I tried my best to make three different kinds of swings: All arms, and not an exaggerated one, but one where the left arm goes across the chest, the right elbow folds to about 90°, the wrists hinge a normal amount, etc. Very little to no torso rotation. Speeds were 87 to 102, with a 100 and a 95 on the "short" swing thrown in at the end. Body turn only. I tried to go 90°, and then to pivot as hard as I normally would. The wrists, due to the acceleration of the pivot, do "load" slightly, but I got speeds of 52 MPH, 63 MPH, and 59 MPH. Body turn only with loaded arms. I tried to let my arms be "loose" here and you can see that they lag well behind - the left arm stays loaded across the chest, the right elbow gets pushed behind the shirt seam, etc. Speeds were 63 MPH, 66 MPH, and 74 MPH when I turned well beyond the 90° that I'd normally turn. Bonus of "wrists only" showing about 44 and 45 MPH. For the purposes of this and any similar discussion, unless otherwise noted, I consider the wrists part of the arms, just like I consider the muscles that move the arms to be part of the "arms." Again, these aren't "additive." I don't swing 100 MPH + 66 MPH because I use my arms AND rotate my body. But I do think this video demonstrates that the arms "do" things in the golf swing. That they're a key and significant source of power and speed. That, quite often in my teaching, I have to tell someone to "swing their arms down faster," because they aren't doing enough with their arms: And yes, there are times when the body lags (though quite often when the body isn't working properly, it's because the player needs more time to drop the clubhead down or they'd just wipe across it… so they stall out so they have a chance of hitting it a little more from the inside than they otherwise could) and I have to teach them to swing with their body more. Those times are much more rare, though, in my experience. I put two other golfers through the same tests. The third golfer kept rotating even when he was just trying to do the arms thing, and when he did the arms thing, he was much slower than I was. He was still faster than his body rotation only motion, but because he also bent his elbows during that drill, I can't really vouch for any of his results as they were not very well done. The second golfer swung with the arms only test in the mid 80s. With the body turn only, he was in the upper 60s. So, closer than I was. The loose arms and turning only was about the same as his arms only - mid 80s. This golfer, I would suggest, derives more of his speed from his rotation than I do, but the arms alone were still the highest speeds, so they still contribute quite a bit to even his swing. Now, there are golfers out there and worse yet, instructors out there teaching that the arms do nothing on the downswing. That they just get dragged along by the body's rotation, that they're "passive" and that the arms are not supplying any "effort". I've seen a bunch of actual scientific studies which show the folly in that line of thinking. Heck, consider a kinematic sequence - each segment further out accelerates and reaches a peak speed later than the segment prior. If you truly just moved your arms to the top, and then just spun your body… your arms would lag WAY behind. Kinda like this: On the left, one of my attempts at using just my arms. On the right, my attempt to make a normal backswing and then swing down with just my body. Guess which was faster? The left, by a lot. This isn't "proof" and it's not scientific. I'm sure I didn't do any of the things I attempted to do perfectly. However, I do feel that this illustrates just how much speed the arms alone can generate. Now… Here's what I'd like: try to swing each of the three ways yourself: Only arms (in front of you, no turning). Body turning only (backswing and downswing). Body turning only (downswing only). Report back. Have a friend record you (because he can also tell you whether you cheated and turned when you weren't supposed to, for example).
  2. Hi! I have a pretty laid back golf swing, I'm "a swinger, not a hitter". My pro thinks that I should get my arms swinging faster, and slow down the lower body. (I am fighting a spin-out, so it does make sense; I need to synch my arms with my lower body.) So the question is: what muscles rotates the arms? Are there exercises to strengthen them? I understand that the lower body muscles contribute (a lot), but I imagine that there are muscles in the upper body that are important? (The muscles in the arms themselves do not contribute to club head speed, except for the underarms?) I'm grateful for any insight!
  3. I'm sure there will be arguments later but there is one piece of information I think a lot of golfers can benefit from. I hope to save some people from buying the online swing tip scams. The most common flaw I see in swings is rotating the forearms one way or the other. Most people don't realize you don't have to rotate your forearms or hands at all in the golf swing, in fact it's better if you don't. The arms can stay just as square as they are at address. The arms follow the rotation of the shoulders on the plane. The arms slightly trail the body on the through swing, creating some additional lag to hip lag, and then eventually they pass the body much later. The club face can stay as square as it was at impact the whole time, many PGA pros do this. Hunter Mahan is a good example. The only movement the arms really have to make is an up and down one. There is a popular drill where students are told to pick the club straight up from address, hinge it, and rest it on their right shoulder (for righties), and then turn the shoulders 90 degrees and voila, the top of the backswing. To get to this position people will do all kinds of arm and hand contortions all over the place, which is fine. The only problem is, is on the way down, you don't want to be doing these things, and the law of physics states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so you will likely do going down what you did going up, just in reverse. All you really have to do is rotate your shoulders and let the arms stay connected as they were at address, after all this is why you've spent so much time working on the set up position! The swing is a moving and rotating set up position. Some people actually get to the top perfectly, but then insist on going way beyond parallel, ruining the glorious work! The problem here is, the more your arms lift past your shoulders, the more you have to wait for them to come down, for that huge 1mph arm swing speed boost. You're of course thinking, why the heck do people do all these things? One reason people do this is because it feels natural, at least that's the reason experienced golfers do it. It feels more repeatable to them, and they like it, it feels good. Power to them. But there are plenty of golfers who do these things that aren't happy with their game, so why do they do it? They do these things because it feels like they can get maximum strength this way. Doing it the efficient way would cost them a lot of power, because their strongest and biggest muscles have not coordinated yet to hit a golf ball. When we do basic things like jumping and lifting, things we've done all our lives, we use the most efficient muscles and most supported ones. But when we have to hit a golf ball, those muscles don't know how to get involved, so we use the smaller, weaker, faster ones, to get the job done with some short term speed. The truth is, we can hit the ball a lot further using the right muscles, but many golfers believe they are hitting it better with whatever move they currently have. They aren't wrong, at the moment they can't hit it with the right muscles, because the right muscles aren't trained. But if they stopped what they are doing and started training the right muscles to support the swing, would they hit it better, faster farther? You bet your ball washer they would. So put down the club, put your arms across your chest like you learned at your very first golf clinic, dig into your hip sockets, and rotate those shoulders. Do away with the crazy arm motions and the bending and unbending at the waist. The 4some behind you will thank you for it.
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