Friday, June 4, 2010

Secret Move #3: The Bowed Wrist

Part of the Route 67 series

The last of the "plane-changing" Secret Move methods was another Ben Hogan invention. Originally intended to work in conjunction with his two-plane tilt move, the bowed wrist has become somewhat popular all on its own. While many teachers call it a flaw, it's also obvious that many good ballstrikers use it. We're not going to deal with the ballstriking aspects of it -- essentially, it's a "trapping" move (that is, it keeps the clubface aimed at the target for a longer time in the hitting area, so it can be more accurate) and it requires strong leg action to make it work properly. Rather, we're going to look at how it helps you delay the uncocking of your wrists.

Gary McCord demonstrates a bowed wristFirst, in case you don't know what a bowed wrist looks like, here's a picture I found of Gary McCord demonstrating an extreme example of it. It's from some material he has posted at Dummies.com (McCord wrote a book called Golf for Dummies). If you click the photo, it'll take you to the site.

Now, you might very well wonder how this bizarre-looking wrist position could possibly keep your wrists from uncocking so soon. If you think about the way Hogan's hands move when they start down from "the slot" (just review the two-plane loop post from yesterday if you need a refresher), you'll realize that bowing your wrist changes the uncocking angle so it's more parallel to the ground than your swing plane. As a result, when your hands start moving down to hit the ball, they don't uncock until you start going directly at the ball.

Here's a diagram showing the bowed wrist position in conjunction with Hogan's two-plane tilt hand movement. I've also added a line showing the "laid off" club shaft... and that's really the key to making this work.

The Bowed Wrist and the Two-Plane Tilt

We normally expect the club shaft to be parallel with the line labeled Plane 1 in the diagram, and that's why it looks so awkward. However, the laid off shaft is supposed to be parallel to Plane 2, which is the plane the shaft should be in when the clubhead actually hits the ball. Once you understand that, the bowed wrist doesn't seem like such a strange technique, does it?

Was Tiger working on this with Hank? I don't know, but it doesn't seem likely and I'll tell you why. Tiger's no stranger to the bowed wrist position -- it's the basis of how you hit a stinger. (By clicking here, you can read a Golf.com article by Craig Harmon on how to hit Tiger's stinger.) But the stinger has been conspicuously missing from Tiger's arsenal lately. Because of that, I suspect the bowed wrist was NOT part of The Haney Project: Tiger Woods.

More importantly, should you consider playing with a bowed wrist to take advantage of this approach to the secret move? If you use a lot of leg drive and a very strong grip in your swing (the two seem to fit together naturally), then you might want to consider it. While players with strong grips tend to be very accurate, they also tend to be short hitters because they can't release the club as freely without hitting big hooks. Since the bowed wrist position puts the club in a similar position as a strong grip, it should be a fairly natural fit... and allow you to get a little extra wrist cocking power in the deal. Otherwise, I suspect there are other methods of performing the secret move that will fit you better.

What's that? You say that none of these three methods feel very comfortable to you? Don't worry -- there are other ways to retain wrist cock besides these "plane-shifting" methods. We'll look at some others next week.

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