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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Brandel Chamblee on Triggering Your Backswing

I guess everybody knows that Brandel Chamblee has written some books on what you might call the "historical mechanics" of the game. Probably the best-known of them is The Anatomy of Greatness, which focuses on the full swing.

The Anatomy of Greatness book coverToday I've got a short quote from that book (well, three paragraphs) that focus on how you trigger your backswing. You need to understand that we aren't really talking about how you move into your backswing. Rather, we're looking at how you prepare to move into your backswing.

That may sound a bit strange. Let me put that another way.

Your backswing is a reaction to movements you make before starting your backswing. Think about using a slingshot -- you don't just lift up the slingshot and expect it to shoot without any effort from you! First you have to stretch the rubber band to put some energy into it. Then, when you let go of the rubber band, that energy is released and the ammo is fired.

This triggering action that Brandel is talking about is the equivalent of stretching the rubber band. Here's what he says about it:
Unlike many other sports in which the athlete reacts to a ball in motion, the golfer must initiate all movement, and before the ball moves -- before the club moves -- the player must.

Almost without exception, going back to the earliest days of this game, the best professional golfers have written about the importance of the movement of the body that precedes the swing, to stave off tension. Some have waggled the club, like Ben Hogan, who famously wrote on the subject, while others like Bobby Jones and Lee Trevino took a few steps as they addressed the ball to kick-start their swings. Still others like Gary Player and Mickey Writght talked of using a forward press to initiate, as much by rebound, the beginning of the backswing. Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead both used a combination of the forward press of their bodies, though it was more pronounced in Sam, and a turning of their heads to the right to serve as a preamble to their move away from the ball.

Perhaps one of the most ruinous trends in professional and amateur golf alike is the death of what Hogan called "the bridge" between the setup and the backswing. As the game's teaching has become more and more complex and microscopic in nature, players of all abilities have become frozen in thought over the ball and, it seems, have lost sight of the fact that the goal is to move in as big a circle as possible, as fast as possible, as smoothly as possible -- and none of those three things can be accomplished as easily without being relaxed as the swing begins. [p71]
Now you might wonder why I chose that section for this post. It's because it addresses a common misconception about triggering the backswing.

There's more than one way to get your backswing in motion!

Look at the number of ways Brandel mentions. You can start your backswing by:
  • Waggling the club. At the very least, you've seen Jason Dufner do it, so that should be self-explanatory.
  • Stepping into the swing. Those steps can be walking up and stepping into your stance, or shuffling your feet around after you take your stance.
  • Making a forward press. That's where you start with your weight pretty even on both feet, then you shift your weight onto your lead foot and use the motion of moving back to an even split to start your backswing. Think of it as a rocking motion toward and then away from the target.
  • Combining a forward press with turning your head away from the target. That's a sequential move, of course; you rock forward, then turn your head as you rock back.
There may be more ways to do it, but Brandel has named four in this short quote. It's likely that at least one of them will work for you, helping you relax and make a smooth start to your backswing. A little experimentation might help you swing with a lot less tension... and a lot more speed and accuracy.

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