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Friday, 26 May 2017

Swinging the Club Head Not the Club

All you have to do is watch the top players in the game tee off at an event to appreciate the fact that there is more than one way to swing a golf club effectively. This is even more evident when you watch the Senior Tour players in action.

As someone who has experimented with just about every swing imaginable, I am finally at the place Henry Cotton ended up. It all comes down to the hands and swinging the clubhead, not the club. If you don't think there's a difference between swinging the club and swinging the clubhead, it's worth remembering what Bobby Jones said about most players viewing the shaft of the club as the means of applying force to the hit. Bobby's view was that we needed to understand that it was the clubhead we wanted to have moving fast. We needed to feel and swing the clubhead.

The problem I notice in my own game, and in that of others I play with, is that we are often in too much of a hurry to deliver the blow. We are too fast going back, and in a mad rush coming down. Often we fail to complete our backswing in our apparent rush to just get it over with. If we take our time, and get to the point in our backswing where we can feel the clubhead, we then have the opportunity to really sling it into the ball.

Modern teaching tends to focus much less on our hands, essentially having our body swing the club. And this obviously works well for those who are fit and healthy enough to use this method. It may also lead to more consistency in our striking if we have mastered the movements and are set up properly.

The problem for older golfers and those of us with physical problems, is the body may not work like it did when we were young and fit. That's why I think it's a good idea to understand that the hands can be used with great affect. Look at the trick shot artists; hitting balls from their knees, or on one leg. They are the best examples of swinging the clubhead. If you can feel the weight of that clubhead and let it swing, it's quite amazing how much zip you can get on the ball.

But if you want to swing the clubhead, you've first got to feel it. That means a light grip and the patience on the backswing to wait until you can feel that clubhead ready to use. We want to think of the clubhead, as Bobby Jones said, being attached to "an imponderable medium," like a string, and sling it into the ball. When we do that we are taking advantage of the design of the club and not just swinging a stick.

With my back problems, I am now having to learn to better use my hands and the clubhead. I simply can't generate the speed with my body any more. The question now will be, can I be patient enough to wait until I feel that clubhead ready to go, and not resort to thinking of the shaft as the means to impart the hit. And the thing that I feel is helping in this regard is the tire drill. It's amazing just how much zip you can get with so little effort when you strike the tire with the clubhead instead of the shaft.