In his book Jim Flick on Golf he gave a very simple explanation of how to use your hands and arms in a golf swing to create speed. I bet you've heard this explanation before but I'd also bet you didn't really understand it. Let's see if we can change that today. Here's how Jim put it in his book:
There are actually two pendulums at work. The first is formed by the hands and wrists cocking, uncocking, and recocking. The second is created by the forearms and upper arms swinging from the shoulder sockets.Alright, the two pendulums are the one stretching from the clubhead to your hands, and the one from your wrists to your shoulder joints. Your wrist joins the two of them together, and act as the pivot point. When your wrists are fully cocked, the clubhead-to-hands-to-shoulder-joints stretch looks like an L shape.
My former colleague from Golf Digest school days Peter Kostis called them the first swing and the second swing. I think of them as two pendulums.
What permits the two pendulums to work together is the combination of the weight in club head, centrifugal force, the good old law of gravity -- and the golfer. These pendulums supply about 80 percent of the distance in your golf shot -- provided the swinging elements of your body drive the turning elements and not vice versa.
If your grip pressure is too tight, the weight at the end of the club is restricted from doing its job.
If you try consciously to turn your shoulders and shift your weight, you destroy the natural harmony of those two pendulums.
If you try to accelerate at impact and follow through, well, you know what happens there. [NOTE: This is a reference to an earlier section in the book. If you TRY to accelerate, you interfere with the natural motion and actually lose clubhead speed.]
But if your posture is good, and your grip pressure -- fingers secure, arms relaxed -- is correct, you give those two pendulums a chance to work in harmony. (p58-59)
No doubt you've heard of an 'L-to-L' swing. It's a common way to learn pitching technique. You swing your hands back to waist high (an L with the club shaft pointing straight up), then they straighten out as the clubhead hits the ball, and finally they form another L in the followthrough (again, with the shaft pointing straight up). Here's Mike Malaska, who worked closely with Jim, demonstrating how this works.
Please note that Mike isn't trying to drive his lower body when he does this. The club's motion pulls his upper body around, and then his upper body pulls his lower body around. As you gradually get out to a full swing you'll start to use your legs more, but it'll be a very natural leg drive -- you won't be thrashing at the ball. (Mike refers to this added drive late in the video when he mentions "using the ground.")
Let me anticipate a question here: When you do this drill at waist high, your wrists will cock as your hands slow down at waist high. When you make this move in a full swing, your wrists will cock as your hands slow down near the end of your swing. It's the change of direction that creates the wrist cock. Got it?
Okay, here's a bonus video with Malaska teaching you how to use the L-to-L drill to learn shot shaping. I bet A LOT of you will be working with this one!
Using the L-to-L drill will help your swing in so many ways, including improved balance, better footwork and weight shift, and eventually longer distance for less effort. This is a post you'll want to bookmark in your browser and come back to again and again.