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Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Bent Trailing Elbow Drill, Part 5

Back in late 2010 I did a post about relaxed golf swings and I quoted a segment from a Jim Flick book about how a measurement of Bobby Jones's swing, made from a video of him hitting a ball around 260 yards, showed that the downward movement of his golf swing was barely faster than the speed of gravity.

Long-hitting Holly Clyburn entering the impact zone

That actually matches up very well with what I focused on in Part 4 of this series. To better describe what happens with your wrists during your downswing, I divided wrist cock into sidecock and backcock:
  • Sidecock is the downward motion of your swing, the way your hand moves when you make a karate chop with the side of your hand.
  • Backcock is the sideways motion of your swing, where the back of your hand moves closer to your forearm -- a slapping motion, if you will.
And I had you try the most basic version of this drill with a sidecock move that was little more than letting gravity have its way.

Today we'll apply that 'gravity move' to the pitch-length drill from Part 3 of this series.

In principle, this drill should be no different than the one in the last part. You let gravity start your downswing -- that is, just let your hands drop as you start down -- and focus on swinging your hands and arms toward the target. But the additional sidecock created by the longer swing, which points the shaft upward rather than parallel to the ground, may initially cause some of you a little trouble. In the rest of this post I'm going to see if I can't help you get the hang of this move more quickly.

In the last part I had you do the first drill without the 'drop'. You just used the backcock of your wrists to swing the club, keeping the shaft parallel to the ground as if you were hitting a ball teed up as high as your hands. What I want you to do first with this pitch-length drill is to let the club drop until the shaft is parallel to the ground but no farther. From there this drill is pretty much the same as the last one.

What WILL feel different this time is that you will probably feel your lower body moving first, even though my instructions were to feel as if you started your upper and lower body together. This is entirely normal! As I have said repeatedly, it's impossible to start your downswing without your lower body moving first. But when we had everything "under control" in the original versions, it all felt almost simultaneous.

But once you let gravity control the downswing, the acceleration of gravity creates a little 'lag' or 'pause' at the start of your downswing. Make sure you understand this: You don't have to TRY to create that pause if you let gravity take care of the downward motion in your downswing. You want to focus on the forward movement when you swing; let gravity take care of the down.

Once you get the hang of that, then try letting gravity take the clubhead all the way down to the ground while you focus on the forward movement. It may take a bit of practice but stick with it; it'll come. Using a 5-iron and this technique, I can get a loud SWOOSH at the ball when I use this method... and I can do it time after time, even though it's only a waist-high swing. It really does give you a lot of clubhead speed.

I think I'll wait until next week to give you a drill for the top part of the downswing, simply because you need to get this short swing working before you tackle the whole thing. You don't have to hit balls when you start; just make swings in the backyard or someplace where you have room to swing without hitting things. Then try hitting some balls, but don't swing so fast that you can't make solid contact.

Learning to relax during the golf swing is really difficult for some people because they want the CRUSH the ball, and that causes them to tense up. But the real key to speed is moving quickly -- DUH! -- and you can't create maximum speed if your muscles are all tensed up.

We'll stretch it out to a full swing next week.