We begin again a “Teacher’s Forum” segment of the SCPGA e-blast, presented by the Teaching Committee. Our goal is to share ideas and information about golf instruction and hopefully receive feedback and even content from those of you who read this and are so inclined. So here goes.
In 1976 “Pure Golf” by Johnny Miller was published. Say what you want about Johnny as a commentator, those of us old enough to see him in his prime remember what a truly great ball striker he was. As with most books written by tour players it describes how he did things. Since most of you probably have not read it, I’d like to share some of it with you.
He broke the swing down to “The Five Basic Moves”. His are:
1- The One-Piece-Takeaway. Set the right leg at address, start everything together on the takeaway, and you will get the whole left side into action.
2- The Early Set. Early wrist cock sets up the late release.
3- The Hinging of the Right Arm and Wrist. Winding up the right arm and wrist is essential for an athletic action, and it ensures that YOU ARE SWINGING IN THE RIGHT PLANE.
4- Knees into the Downswing. The pull of the left knee toward the target transfers the weight to the left foot and initiates the clearing action of the hips to the left. It also pulls the still hinged right arm down into the hitting area where the release of the angles in the arm and wrist will take place.
5- The Release of the Angles. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the right hand and arm have to hit and hit hard”. (Note- Johnny is left-handed) “I’m firmly convinced too that there are more problems caused by inactive right arms and wrists, where the angles are never released, than practically anything else in the golf swing”.
We can all probably agree that the right arm is straightening into impact and both arms should be fully extended a foot or so after contact. Some can lead with the right elbow longer into the downswing than others.
But how many amateurs are still trying to pull hard with the left side, shoulder, arm hand, hip, and because they have no “release of the angles” there is no chance of squaring the clubface. Nick Faldo made a statement Sunday that we as instructors understand but our students may not, “if there is more pull than release you will block it.” And that’s talking about tour players.
Now I highlighted part of #3, and this is part of what helps me help my students make better backswings. The action of the right arm influences path, plane, and width going back. If it rotates too much, especially during takeaway, the club works inside and under plane. If it disconnects from the right shoulder, path will change. If it hinges too much or swings too far, width will be lost. When a right-handed golfer can learn to synchronize the correct action of the right arm with the turning back of the right shoulder, they start to get the club into a better position at the top. And isn’t that more than half the battle. Then we can work on lower body lead, arms down in front, release of the angles, bottom of the arc, and so on, and so on.
Of course, one of my good friends, also a student, is left-handed playing right-handed. None of that works naturally for him, so the approach is different.
On behalf of the Teaching Committee, please send us comments, articles, ideas, anything relevant to instruction that will help us become better at what we do. Keep in mind that you are communicating with your fellow professionals. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll print the good stuff. Thanks, and we hope to see you March 19th at the GIBS, Ontario Convention Center. We have two very interesting presentations on teaching. Sign up on the website.
Bill Hulbert, PGA
SCPGA Teaching Committee Co-chairman