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Golf Swing Misconceptions


The golf swing is primarily a rotational movement of the body in which the big muscles of the shoulders and hips dominate.  The small muscles of the hands and arms simply follow this movement and respond to this rotation.  As a result, proper weight shift during the golf swing is attained by this body rotation.


In this article, we’ll discuss some long held beliefs about the golf swing and try to explain how some of these beliefs have actually inhibited the learning of a correct golf swing motion.  Let’s get started:


Misconception #1: Keep the left arm (or lead arm) straight or stiff.


Reasons why this is not true:  If the left (lead) arm is kept rigid and stiff throughout the entire swing motion, the arms will work independently of the body.  Also, the stiffness in the arm will induce tension and limit the rotation of the left shoulder.


Misconception #2:  Keep your head down.


Reasons:  If the golfer has his head buried in his chest, he will inevitably lift it up as he comes into impact.  The “head down” syndrome limits the ability of the shoulders to turn under the chin.  Usually, the head position is a result of poor posture at set-up.


Misconception #3:  Keep your head still.


Reasons:  If the golfer keeps his head absolutely still, he will limit his ability to rotate and get his weight over the back leg.  There are very few tour players who can keep their heads absolutely still.  Most players allow their heads to move just slightly in order to get an acceptable shoulder turn.  Usually the head moves with the upper spine on the backswing until it has moved about two inches from where it started.


Misconception #4:  The center of your golf swing is the sternum or the center of your golf swing is the head.


Reasons:  If we pivot around a point of our body (the sternum or the head), we will never be able to get the weight shifted over the right leg (for right-handed golfers).  Actually, the center of the swing is the posterior lower spine just below the small of the lower back.


Misconception #5:  There is lateral motion away from and towards the target during the swing.


Reasons:  Since the golf swing is a circular motion with the club, we must create a rotary motion with our bodies.  There is little, if any, lateral motion during the swing.  Essentially, what appears to be lateral motion is simply rotation of the body until the right hip is over the right heel on the backswing and the left hip has rotated over the left heel on the forward swing (for right-handed golfers).


Misconception #6:  The arms swing and the body simply responds to that motion or the hands and arms move first and then the shoulders and hips follow.


If the hands and arms move first in the backswing, the shoulders will turn late in the backswing.  As a result, the golfer will lose his extension and create an overly long and loose swing that is likely to come outside and over-the-top on the downswing.


Actually, the first part of the backswing, should be a one-piece movement with the hands, arms, clubhead, shoulders and hips all moving away together.  This insures a weight shift, arm and club extension and a firm and short swing.


Furthermore, if the swing produces centrifugal force, the center of the swing must move first to create the force.  The true center of the swing is located in the posterior lower spine somewhere behind the hips.  This part moves first and the hands, arms, and clubhead simply respond to this initial movement.  The big muscles of the shoulders, back and hips are the slowest moving, yet most powerful muscles in the body.  These muscles move first and keep the faster moving muscles of the hands and arms under control.  Correct movement is always produced from the center of the body outward never from the clubhead inwards.


Misconception #7:  Feel like you are sitting on a bar stool with the weight back on the heels at the start of the swing.


Reasons:  If we sit back on the heels at address, we are likely to have the knees over- flexed.  With weight on the heels and over-flexed knees, we are not able to rotate the lower body because of abducted hips.  Also, when starting with weight on the heels, there’s usually no place to move except to the toes.


Misconception #8:  The ball position changes for the different clubs in the bag.  For example, the ball should be positioned forward for the driver and back towards the center of the stance for the nine iron.


Reasons:  What appears to be a change in ball position with the shorter clubs is really only a narrower, more open stance with the weight distributed more on the front leg at the start of the swing.  The ball actually looks like it is being played in the center of the stance for a nine iron and off the left heel for the driver.  In reality, the ball position will be approximately the same for both the woods and the irons.  It is the open and narrow stance that makes the ball appear back in the stance with the short irons.  Essentially, there is only one bottom to your swing arc if we are going to create any consistently struck golf shots.


Misconception #9:  The club moves straight away from the ball on the takeaway.


Reasons:  The golf swing is a side of the line hitting game.  By this, I mean that we are standing to the side of the ball.  Because of the way we are set up, we must arc the club inside the target line as we take it back.  In addition to this, the hands and the arms follow the body rotation both on the backswing and the downswing.  If we follow the principle, then the turning of the shoulders and hips will naturally cause the club to come a little inside the target line on the backswing.


Misconception #10:  The weight starts on the right leg (for right-handed golfers) at the start of the swing.


Reasons:  If the weight started on the back leg at the address, it would be impossible to make a rotational move with the body.  Because of this, the golfer would become a hand and arm player.  Also, if the weight is set to the right at address, it is likely to move to the left on the backswing.  This is the reverse weight shift that most golfers have in their golf swings.


Actually, the weight shift should start slightly forward on the front leg.  From this position, the golfer has somewhere to move – to the right side.


Misconception #11:  Restrict your hips on the backswing and coil your shoulders against them.


Reasons:  If the golfer restricts his hip turn on the backswing, he will limit the range of motion of the shoulder turn.  Only the very flexible and coordinated golfer is able to do this.


In reality, the hips control the shoulders both on the backswing and the downswing.  Therefore, if the golfer restricts his hip turn, he will restrict his shoulder turn.  With a restricted shoulder turn, the golfer is likely to start the downswing with the shoulders unwinding ahead of the hips.  This will produce pulls and pull slices.


Misconception #12:  We should return to the address position at impact.


Reasons:  At impact, we see pictures of the tour stars that show them with the majority of their weight on their lead leg with hips opened to the target line and shoulders parallel to the target line.  In fact, the hips are just slightly forward of the position they started in.  The mistake most people make here is they slide their hips too far forward on the downswing creating weight shift and balance problems at impact.


In reality, the shoulders out-turn the hips on the backswing.  This allows the hips to move first on the downswing and to open up and stay ahead of the shoulders at impact.


Misconception #13:  The golfer should consciously try to release the club.  This definition of release means to pronate and supinate the hands and arms and to consciously try to turn the club over through the impact area.


Reasons:  Correct body (shoulder and hip) rotation will automatically create correct hand and arm rotation.  Any conscious effort to open or close the clubface, either on backswing or downswing, will most likely create an inconsistency in your ball striking.  Any conscious effort to try to release the clubhead is a compensation for poor body rotation.


If the golf swing is a circular motion in which centrifugal force is produced, the inertia and the weight of the swinging clubhead will automatically create the release.


Misconception #14:  The power source in the golf swing comes from the hands, arms, and wrists.  We should try to snap our wrists as we come into the impact area.


Reasons:  Power in the golf swing comes from leverage (swing arc), torsion (Body rotation), and weight shift.  In order to achieve these three goals, we must rotate our bodies.  This real power source in the golf swing is the hips.  The faster we move the hips in the downswing, the faster the hands and arms will work.  There is no conscious use of the wrists and hands through the impact area.  The hands and arms rotate in response to body rotation.


Misconception #15:  The golfer should stay behind the ball long after the ball is hit.  A corollary to this is that the golfer should keep his head down and right (or left) shoulder back for as long as possible after impact.


Reason:  It is true that the head is behind the ball at the point of contact.  But, just after impact, the forceful unwinding of the shoulders should allow the head to rotate with the shoulders and come up to of the shot.  Any effort to keep the head and right shoulder back behind the ball after the point of contact will cause the weight to stay on the back leg.  This error will cause all kinds of poor shots including pulls, pull hooks and push fades.


In reality, the shoulders turn about 200 degrees on the forward swing.  The shoulders actually catch up to and pass the hips just after impact.  At the finish of the swing, the right shoulder should be just slightly higher than the left with the chest facing the left of the target line and the hips facing directly down the target line.  This finish position insures that the shoulders have out-turned the hips and a correct weight shift to the left leg has been made.


Misconception #16:  The golfer should pull the club down from the top of the swing with the left (or right) hand and arm.  Another related statement would ask the golfer to pull the butt of the club at the ball on the downswing.


Reasons:  If the golfer pulls the butt of the club down on the downswing or pulls down with the left (or right) hand or arm on the downswing, he creates angles with his arms.  In this case, pulling down with the left hand and arm will force the left elbow up to the sky which will leave the clubface open through impact.  Better advice might be “start the downswing with eh lower body and try to keep the elbows down throughout the entire swing motion.”  If the golfer turns his hips through the ball instead of sliding through it, the clubface will naturally close and the left arm will fold downward after impact.


In addition to this, the golf swing, is a bilateral motion and shouldn’t be dominated by either the right or left side of the body.


Misconception #17:  The path of the clubhead on a correct golf swing is inside-outside.


Reasons:  Most of us have been taught to swing inside-outside.  Unfortunately, this is not correct.  If the golfer swings excessively inside-outside, he will push face and hook most of his golf shots.  It might feel like we are swinging inside-outside, but what really should happen is this:  The golf club approaches the ball from inside the target line through impact, and then moves off the left of the target line after impact.  This occurs because the hands and arms follow the body rotation both on the backswing and downswing.  It is this “inward – to straight – to inward” club movement that creates a natural release of the clubhead through impact and divots that point slight left on the target line.


Misconception #18:  The weight stays centered throughout the entire swinging motion.


Reasons:  If the weight stayed centered throughout the entire swing, the golfer would be unable to make a weight shift.  Also, the golf swing is n elliptical arc (egg-shaped).  This type of arc is created because the golfer is working out of two shoulder sockets and two hip sockets.  On the backswing, the shoulder and hip turn create a weight shit over the right heel.  Finally, on the downswing, the movement of the fee, knees and hips create a weight shift over the left heel.


Misconception #19:  The golfer should try to shift his weight.



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