Creating Depth for an Optimal Swing
Kevin L. Britt, PGA Director of Instruction, Country Club of Spartanburg
Teaching, Coaching, & Player Development Committee Best Practice
A large part of successful golf coaching is understanding the forces that influence the motion of the club which create the player’s ball flight. One of the more common ball flights golfers unfortunately experience tends to be a slice due to the club’s path traveling excessively “out-to-in” through impact relative to the direction the club face is pointed. This result is commonly due to players limiting their hip rotation in the backswing. These players either roll the club inside with their forearms, or they lift the club with their arms above the optimal swing plane. Either way, over time, golfers will compensate by adjusting their aim and/or grip to learn to play with this low weak pull-cut swing.
Not only does backswing depth aid in alleviating the slice, it also affords the golfer the opportunity for a more powerful downswing. When the golfer loads correctly, they can create force by pushing into the ground. The ground then pushes back in the opposite direction. This position maximizes the sequence to start the proper downswing using (in order) linear, rotational and vertical ground forces; any one of these ground forces can be used as the dominant force depending on the player.
To help players make a significant change to the ball flight, we should teach them how to create depth in the backswing. To make these changes we should always think in opposites. So, if our players are hitting a low pull-cut, we should get them to hit a high draw. During the backswing we should get our players to turn their hips back to allow a good bit of pressure to initially get into the trail foot. When doing so, let the trail knee slightly straighten in order to get the trail hip a bit higher and deeper (more behind). Both movements will allow proper load and will give the golfer the ability to create rotational force in the lower body. This allows for the spine to rotate, the arms to gather proper depth, and for the lower body to get ready for the transition to start.
In closing, one of the basic principles of instruction that we should always embrace as PGA Golf Professionals is simplicity. Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” We must learn and continually educate ourselves as much and as thoroughly as possible while making every effort to keep instruction easy for our students to understand. Adhering to a philosophy of keeping it simple while communicating complex concepts to my students has certainly served me well. It is important to keep in mind that students are much less interested in our vast knowledge of the golf swing than they are of leaving a lesson hitting the golf ball well.
For more information, or questions about creating depth in the backswing, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.