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Friday, 7 July 2017

Right-Side or Left-Side, Bottom or Top Hand: You Choose

Jack Nicklaus considered himself a "left-sided" player. He was conscious of his left arm essentially controlling the swing. I named my blogsite "Top Hand Golf" based upon the Golden Bear's, and other great players', like Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead, appreciation of the importance of the left side and arm controlling the swing. 

The fact is that most right-handed amateurs don't use their left side properly and suffer as a result. A left side that doesn't lead in the swing, according to Bobby Jones, often "gum's up the works" and allows the right side to overpower the left with, as Jack also wrote in his book Golf my Way, "dire results."

Consider also what Jack wrote about being left-sided:

    "I'm a 'left-sided' golfer, but I never hesitate to think in right-sided terms if my keft-sided thoughts aren't working. 
     For example, if I can't get the correct hip turn going back by thinking 'turn the left hip,' I'll think 'pull the right hip out of the way.' The same sort of thing often applies with the shoulders on the forward swing. My preferred thought is 'move the left shoulder up and the left hip around.' But if that doesn't seem to be working, I'll try 'move the right shoulder down and the right hip around.'
     So long as the desired effect is achieved, I don't think it matters which 'side' you think about. In fact, it's probably good to switch patterns occasionally, for the sake of striking a balance. Thinking one side or the other all the time can easily lead to exaggeration of a particular move."

So Jack was a left-sided golfer who sometimes played right-sided. He wasn't stuck on just seeing the swing in one way. So, when he thought about things from a right-sided perspective, how did he see the right arm working? In Golf My Way, Jack wrote:

    "In most good swings the right arm is slightly bent and the right elbow pointing down, not out, at impact. Otherwise, there's a danger that the right side will grab control of the swing, invariably with dire results.
     Past impact, however, the right arm does straighten and extend toward the target. To me, the movement feels very similar to that used in bowling or in pitching a softball. It's a 'sweeping through' motion from which I get the feeling I could reach out and retrieve the flying ball with my right hand."

I particularly like this analogy from Jack, having been a softball pitcher. I have often played, quite successfully, thinking of pitching the ball underhanded at the target with my right hand. So much for "top hand golf." The reality is that you can't always hang your hat on one way of thinking about the swing. And, while I figure we would all be better off if we could just think about the strike and not the swing, we do have swing thoughts. It's the cost of doing business it seems.