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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another Lesson on Connection

I sometimes mention "connection" on this blog because I think it really helps simplify your golf swing. Carl Rabito taught it to me over 20 years ago, and Jimmy Ballard has been teaching it even longer than that. In fact, I did a post about Ballard and connection nearly a year ago. And I've mentioned that Ben Hogan was probably the guy most responsible for publicizing connection, although I don't know that he specifically called it that, because it's a basic part of his swing.

Since Rocko Mediate -- one of Ballard's most vocal pupils (ok, Rocko's just vocal, period) -- made news recently for criticizing what Sean Foley "is doing to Tiger's swing," I thought it might be a good time to post some new material on the concept. I have two videos, neither very long.

The first is Ballard explaining the concept to Rocko. I'm pretty sure this is from the infomercial for that swing device they promote, but the info in it is useful on its own.



The other video is the one Ballard mentions. This one shows Ben Hogan on the Ed Sullivan show demonstrating how connection works in his golf swing.



As you can see, connection is a very simple idea. Why do I like it?

For one thing, it helps you keep your hands and arms in front of you throughout the swing. With the upper part of your lead arm resting lightly against the side of your chest muscles, it's hard to "get stuck" on your way down from the top of your backswing. Basically it removes some of the "slack" in your movement, so your arms start down the moment your chest and shoulders begin to turn.

Next, it helps keep your lead elbow pointing down toward the ground throughout your swing. This does two things: It helps you square up your hands (and clubface) at impact, and it helps you avoid "chicken-winging" at impact. Yes, people, the two are related. If you have trouble squaring the clubface, there's a good chance your elbow is pointing in the wrong direction.

And finally, it makes it easier to keep your posture as you make your downswing and finish. If the upper part of your lead arm is resting lightly against the side of your chest, you're much less likely to lean backward during your downswing. And that helps you keep your swing on a better plane throughout your full motion.

The Hogan drill in that second video is a good way to get a feel for how connection works. Just remember that, in your full swing, your elbows do NOT stay tight against your body the way they do in Hogan's initial demonstration. He even says you can't make a full swing that way! It's more like your upper arms slide up and down along the sides of your chest muscles.

As long as you make a good shoulder turn (aka the ever-present one-piece takeaway!) you'll find this is a pretty easy move to make. And it eliminates a lot of swing thoughts once you get a handle on it, because so much of your swinging motion happens automatically.

Just for the record, I don't agree with Rocko that Foley is ruining Tiger's swing. But Rocko's right about connection -- even if you don't completely adopt the technique, you'll find that some connected swing practice will really help smooth out your swing and improve your ball striking.

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