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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Martin Hall Explains My Move

One of the things I frequently suggest to help stabilize your swing and straighten out shots is to feel as if you start your upper and lower body at the same time.

Well, Tuesday night on School of Golf, Martin Hall was talking about how important it was to get "sequenced" rather than "synchronized" in your downswing to get more distance. He gave a drill to help viewers learn this move, and the move looked familiar to me. I got in front of a mirror and tried it.

Lo and behold, it was the very move I've been using to feel as if everything started together!

Of course, the irony of it all is that we sound as if we're saying two different things. I've written about how confusing it can be when teachers use different terms to describe the same thing, or the same term to describe different things. This is one of those cases, so I'm glad he showed this drill.

My description of the feel is that, even though you feel as if everything starts at once, the lower body has to move first just because of physics. And I've said that moving this way causes you to keep your lower body more centered, so you don't start leaning backward during your downswing. This drill demonstrates how that works.

Martin's drill uses a basketball. Basically, you hold it between your knees and, when you start your downswing, the front knee and hip move toward the target (you may have heard this called "opening your hips") and the ball drops to the ground.

How your knees start the downswing

If you try this drill, you'll find that your back leg stays flexed but it doesn't move forward much until you're well into your downswing. It's very similar to the "squat" move used by players at least as far back as Sam Snead.

When you try it, you'll find that moving your front knee toward the target automatically starts pulling your shoulders around and down, which helps you keep from uncocking your wrists too soon. To me, it really does feel as if your upper body and lower body start at the same time. And it helps you keep your hips from sliding toward the target too much, so you don't lean backward and change the plane of your swing.

I hope this drill helps you better understand why I talk about "starting your downswing with your upper and lower body together" while other players and teachers tell you to start the lower body first. (Luke Donald said he had been working on increasing the "separation" between his upper and lower body. That's the same thing.)

No matter what you call it, it puts you in a powerful position to hit the ball where you're aiming.