Part 2 - The X Axis in the Golf Swing

Let's start by watching a slow motion video of Tiger's swing:

 

What do we see in the head on view? A clear loading up on his back leg, transitioning his weight to his front leg, and using that momentum and strength to pull his body through the shot.

 

What Not To Do

 

Now let's look at an amateurs swing and identify where it goes wrong in the context of the 3 foundational lower body movements required to generate X axis based athletic outcomes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This golfer does a decent job of Step 1 (getting there weight loaded up on the back leg), but a relatively poor job of Step 2 (transitioning weight to the front leg) and because of that never even get a chance at Step 3 (using that momentum from the transition plus strength in the lead leg to pull your body through).

 

This golfer instead takes all of the weight built up in their back leg and uses it to directly push their way towards the ball, resulting in a shot that pushes far right.

 

No other X axis based athletic movement succeeds when this happens. Try to swing a baseball bat or throw a football by loading up your right leg and then never transitioning that weight to your lead leg and using your hips to pull you through the movement. You almost physically can't do it!

 

Here's another view of 2 back to back swings that involve a heavy loading of the back leg (Step 1) followed by no transition, just a complete (and violent) untwisting of the upper body to try to generate the club head speed needed to hit the ball.

 

Again, go pick up a baseball bat, load on your back leg, and then try to swing the bat forward using JUST your arms. You can't really do it.

Where It Goes Wrong

 

So why does this happen to so many of us? We're casually tossing a football at tailgates and going 2 for. 3 with 2 singles in our slow pitch softball leagues with relative ease, while routinely finding ourselves topping the ball ~15 yards and shooting 110+ for the day, despite all of these movements having the same X axis based underpinnings.

 

The answer lies in how modern golf instruction is taught to us from some of the first times we pick up a club.

 

Upper Body Driven Instruction: "Get the club parallel", "lead with your left shoulder", "rotate your chest". Everything we are conditioned to believe about how to swing a club is from an upper body perspective, and by leading with our upper body we neutralize our ability to effectively (and effortlessly) perform the lower body movement pattern core to all X axis based movements.

 

Overly Technical Instruction: You're violently slicing the ball 50 yards right on every shot and scoring 110, and seek out help from friends, instructors, or YouTube. What do they tell you?

  • "Ahhh, the ball is an inch back from center in your stance, it should be an inch forward"

  • "Your spine angle is 30 degrees, it should be ideally 35 degrees"

  • "Your not dropping your right arm at the right angle to initiate your downswing"

In what other sport does advice like this get given to an amateur? At elite levels of any sport, it makes sense that certain athletes and coaches may want to dissect their movement from every conceivable angle, but for the average golfer the idea that a few inches of deviation in where you place the ball in your setup is what's causing you to oscillate between a 50 yard slice right and topping the ball 10 feet every other shot is deplorable.

 

The root cause of all of your consistency issues is that you are not moving your lower body correctly. Until you are moving correctly from the ground up, there are no other components of your swing that are worth focusing on.

Understanding Tempo

When you rethink your swing from the ground up, and move your lower body in a more natural pattern, you end up building tempo and rhythm into your swing by default.

To understand how, think in terms of dancers and dancing. If you are a great dancer and have "great rhythm", what you really have is the ability to drive your dance patterns from your lower body. 

And when you see bad dancing, it's when the dancer is using upper body movements to try to drive lower body movement. 

The parallels to the golf swing are likely obvious to you by now. If you use your upper body to power the swing and hope your lower body "comes along for the ride", you are moving opposite to how all other X Axis Based Horizontal movements naturally occur, and hindering your ability to build tempo into your swing as a result. 

Rebuild your swing from the ground up in Part 3!