Learning the mechanics of a good golf swing is a minor fascination for me, and while the following should not be taken as authoritative since I don’t play much golf and am not an expert, I am putting up this tutorial to both remind myself of these concepts and to share them with anyone interested.
My methodology acronym, PGOTT, stands for:
- Open and Close
…with the idea being that when I am struggling I need to remind myself to do these five things.
This is the basic stuff that everyone knows: knees slightly bent, back straight, butt out, feet roughly shoulder-length apart (inside of your feet for driver, outside for low irons), etc. Nothing major here.
The thing I remind myself here is, “Fingers, not hand.” I initially contact the club in the top two segments of my fingers, and when I hold the club it doesn’t make any contact with my actual palm. This, combined with holding the club loosely, gives the most motion for the club. I also use the pinky-index interlock and a neutral position.
3. Open and Close
Ok, so now we get into the less-standard stuff (or at least for a top-four list). When at address your club face should be perpendicular to your body and shoulders, i.e facing toward your target. During your backswing, you must open your club face, which involves rotating the wrists so that the club head faces the sky as the club reaches parallel with the ground, and so that you’ll see more of the back of your left hand.
During the follow-through, the club will be doing the opposite, which is to close. This means the wrists will be turning to the right so that you’d be able to see more of the back of the right hand. The key is that at the ball, in the center, you’re back to neutral.
Back–open, through–close. Back–open, through–close. This concept is so important to me, as it reminds me of the physical (as in physics) nature of the swing, with the entire focus being getting back to that neutral position at the ball.
This is a visual model that helps me immensely that I haven’t heard anywhere else. The way I think of, and describe, the swing dynamic and power creation process for a golf swing is by imagining a trebuchet where the second arm (the rope with the projectile) is the golf club, and the first arm (the rigid, wooden part) is your non-bending left arm.
For me the focus once again is getting back to neutral, and the idea that if your frame doesn’t change during your swing (your position), your wooden part doesn’t change in length or focal position (your left arm), and your rope length doesn’t change (your club length), then when you complete your downswing you should be back to where you started, i.e. at the ball.
This is a beautiful concept to me, as it illustrates not just consistency in being able to return to the ball, but also power in the sense that the secondary segment (the club/rope) must move much more than the primary segment (your arm). So when the club is bent way above and possibly behind you, your left arm angle isn’t nearly as extreme. This means that for every bit of left arm motion, you have that much more club motion–just like a trebuchet.
This one is just a reminder to slow down and not rush the backswing or downswing. Nothing fancy here. There are a number of methods for doing this I’ve heard, e.g. counting through the motion and such, but I just remind myself to slow down and avoid being jerky, which seems to work for me.
So that’s my self-tutorial on how to consolidate a ton of golf-swing knowledge into five steps: PGOTT. And now I’ll leave you with a truly inspiring video; see if you notice what I call the trebuchet action now that I’ve put the idea in your head. And happy golfing to you. ::