The Transition is vital to solid, straight, and long shots
One of the most common questions I get from my students is, “why do tour players make it look so effortless and easy?“ This question refers to the correct sequencing of “the flow“ – the transition from the top of the backswing to the start of the downswing.
It’s important to note that the setup and backswing certainly contribute to the proper “chain” for successful sequencing. If there is an aspect of the full swing that can be labeled the chief determinant of distance, accuracy, and consistency, then the transition move is it. The good news is that this should happen instinctively and be a reaction without thought.
Every athletic endeavor that involves striking a ball with a racket, bat, or club at an intended target has a similar series and sequence of movements. Golf, however, is more precise in that there is no left field, right field, crosscourt or down the line. Swinging the golf club at a static object on an intended path can be an instinctive or intuitive act. Nevertheless, every golfer can learn to feel this instinctive motion if practiced the correct way.
Did you know that to throw a ball, hit a baseball, tennis, and golf ball efficiently and correctly, the upper and lower body must move in different directions just before the downswing or forward motion begins? If you study pictures or video of these motions, you will notice the upper body is still moving back when the weight shift (lower body) begins forward.
Another good way to feel this motion is to close your eyes and imagine skipping a rock off water. It will be easy to sense the chain reaction of the movements that occur as you prepare to release the rock. First, the rock will still be moving into a cocked and loaded position as your front foot begins to shift and plant. Secondly, the lower body will move forward and begin to rotate, pulling the shoulders next. Finally, the arm and hand fling the rock in reaction to the skip.
Unfortunately, most golfers who struggle with fat, thin, pools, slices, and weak shots have a poor transition. Typically, the grip pressure is tight, and tension abounds – not a good combination. The arms and upper body start early in the downswing trying to hit at the ball with what is perceived as speed and power. All of these poor habits create a bad path to the ball, an imperfect clubface position, and mediocre clubhead speed.
A great practice drill is the line drill. Tee up five balls 6 inches apart. Take a nine iron and hit all five balls in succession without stopping. You can feel the step, then the hit, and a smooth, flowing transition to the ball. If performed properly, you will hear the swish from the clubhead at the bottom of the swing. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect. “perfect practice“ makes perfect. Learn to see and feel what you already do instinctively. It’s as simple as skipping a rock!
By Buck Mayers
Buck Mayers is the Director of Instruction at Escondido Golf & Lake Club in Horseshoe Bay, TX and can be reached at 512.695.2270 or firstname.lastname@example.org