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Monday, August 17, 2009

The Classic Shaft-Loading Technique

In a modern swing, the shaft loads at the top of the backswing, at the change of direction. Many players feel this as a pause at the top. At this point, muscle power becomes important; it takes a lot of strength and speed to get the club started down without causing the wrists to uncock early. (You may also notice players like Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, and Natalie Gulbis ‘dropping’ closer to the ball in order to start the downswing; that too is an effort to maintain the wrist cock a little longer.) There are any number of teaching techniques and training equipment available to help you learn how this is done, but they’re unfamiliar to most players; that’s why so much practice is necessary.

In contrast, the classic swing uses a single, simple technique traditionally called a loop. Back in the days of hickory shafts, many players utilized the loop as a way to change planes in a two-plane swing because they already used it to minimize the stress (loading) put on the softer shaft at the change of direction. The softer hickory shafts almost demanded a loop as the loading technique; players who didn’t use it developed a reputation as wild drivers, Walter Hagen being a good example. Hagen’s swing looks much more like a modern swing, with the shaft loading at the top of the swing―a real problem when that shaft is made of hickory.

While the loop is often (but not always) used in conjunction with a two-plane swing, the loop can be done in a single plane… and I bet most of you have used just such a loop many times in your life. I’ll even go so far as to say that most weekend players who struggle with an ‘over-the-top’ swing or with ‘throwing the club from the top’ are doing so because they’re instinctively trying to make the loop movement they already use in other areas of their lives.

If it’s such a natural move, then why doesn’t it work for these struggling golfers? It’s because they’ve combined the classic move with the modern one, and the two just won’t work together. The modern move loads the shaft by using that ‘pause’ at the change of direction…
But there is no pause at all in the classic swing. The loop requires a constant speed during the change of direction in order to work properly. That’s how it works in the moves you already know.
And just what is this wonderful move that you already know? See if you can guess; the answer will be in my next post.

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