One element of the golf swing that is essential to playing great golf shots is the movement of the body and arms at the same pace. One thing that I frequently notice when coaching or watching people practice is how much tension they carry in their arms at address and then through the swing. This tension makes it almost impossible to keep your arms and body moving at the same pace.
There are a number of problems with having tension in your arms; your takeaway will be stiff and jerky, the club will feel hard and heavy at impact which will impact the quality of strike and your follow-through will be short and uncomfortable.
In order to play a great golf shot, you want your arms to be relaxed enough to match the movements of your body when swinging the golf club – both on the backswing and the follow through.
If you remove the tension from your arms, you will notice your takeaway will be much smoother, especially as your body begins to turn. This allows you to make a more natural movement. This will create more consistency and reliability in your golf swing.
By maintaining this same level of pressure, without tensing, as you start your downswing and swing through the ball you will make a much sweeter ball strike.
Start by taking your normal setup and then check your arm tension. You want to feel as though your arms are hanging relaxed from your shoulders and posture.
From here, focus on your target and not the golf ball. If you get wrapped up in the ball, your mind will switch to ‘hitting mode’, which will put the tension back in your arms. Once you are locked in on the target, start making some soft waggles whilst trying to maintain the relaxed feeling in your arms.
Make your swing and hold the finish position. Take the time to assess how your arms feel in this finish position and how they felt through the swing.
During your next round or practice session take the time to think about how much tension you have in your arms. Try to keep them relaxed and you will realise that you don’t have to be so hard on yourself while swinging the club.
Your lower body has two very important roles within the golf swing. Firstly the legs act as important sources of stability within the golf swing. Just think about it: a good player can swing the golf club in excess of 100 mph. When you are swinging the golf club at these speeds you need a solid base of support to allow your upper body to turn around your lower body while maintaining excellent balance. The other role that the lower half of your body plays in the golf swing is to help to generate power in the golf swing by initiating the downswing. This sometimes is referred to as pivot thrust. When teaching golf, I believe that this is one of the most important areas to learn and master, and is generally the point of difference between a good player and a poor player.
Initiating the downswing is a skill and something that generally must be learnt. Let’s now take a look at a drill that we use at Rachel Hetherington Golf Range to help students improve their left side and lower body action and therefore prevent you from casting the golf club from the top of the golf swing.
Gripping the golf club in only your left hand with your right hand behind your back, take your address position as if you are going to make a normal golf swing. Now as you swing the golf club back to a point across your right shoulder try and allow your body to create the same positions that it would if you were swinging the golf club with two hands.