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Clubhead Lag -- the clubhead lagging behind the hands through impact -- is the most important fundamental in the golf swing.

All PGA Tour players use Lag to compress the ball while poor players don't.

 

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Hitting vs Swinging – Part 2 – The Swing

Hitting vs SwingingContinuing our series on Hitting vs Swinging, let’s now explore the Swinging Procedure.

In this article I’ll try to cover the leading principles of the Swing and explain what you should feel to reproduce the correct motion.

Whirl something tied to a rope and you generate centrifugal force. That is simple and the very same principle is the essence of the Swinging Procedure.



However, in a Golf Swing you do not swing a rope, but rather a flail where the hinge pin is the left wrist.

Throw it incorrectly and the flail will go out of control and hurt you!

We must generate and master centrifugal force and make it an ally.

How to generate Centrifugal Force?

Centrifugal force allows striking the ball with a sensation of effortless power which is quite interesting!

The key here is the Throwing motion. More precisely it is a Throw-Out Action induced by the rotary motion of the swinging stroke.
The goal here is to (intend to) Throw the club out of the radius of the stroke (the Throw out Action).
Doing it is fairly easy as the only thing you have to do from the top of the swing is straighten the right arm. It won’t look like that on video but it is the correct feel.

How does it feel?

Try this tip: Go to the Top of your backswing. From there, try to hammer your clubhead right into the ground to the right of your right foot. Do not turn your body to the ball, just straighten your right arm as you would with a hammer in your hand, on a vertical plane.

You can hammer the ground very hard this way and it is pretty natural!
This is the Throw-Out Action!

Next step: All we have to do is to let this motion happen on the inclined plane of the swing passing through the ball instead of a vertical plane passing through our feet.

This is the tricky part because it means that in order to perform the same action as when hammering the ground on a vertical plane, this motion on an inclined plane puts your club face facing up and out to the right!
This is most disturbing for a vast majority of golfers because their brain senses this wide open clubface going down plane and tells their hands to urgently turn the clubface to the ball!

This is steering the clubface and it disrupts centrifugal force.

Have a look at this picture: I put in evidence the desired orientation of the clubface during the Throw-Out Action of the clubhead.

Golf Swinging Procedure - Throw out action

So the trick is to initially throw the club with the clubface face up under the plane of the swing.

What it means is that even very close to impact the club face remains pointing to right field almost at right angle!!! Then, at the very last moment, centrifugal force and inertia will automatically square up the club face for impact.

It’s really scary when you try it for the first time. But it is a test of faith!
The more you throw it DOWN and OUT freely “open” without trying to line up the club face yourself, the easier for centrifugal force to line up you club face at the very last moment!

What breaks the Swing?

You probably have an idea right now: You can mess things up very easily with the SLIGHTEST attempt to manipulate/control the club FACE.

Doing that will disrupt centrifugal force and you’ll break the motion.

Summing things up

Golf Swinging Procedure - the Throw

  1. Throw the club (Throw-Out Action) to generate centrifugal force by straightening the right arm.
  2. Hold on to the club and resist the temptation of interfering. There is a sensation of no muscular effort and a freewheeling of the club head.
  3. Keep the faith until low point! Centrifugal force will align everything at the last moment!

A last word about the Pressure Points involved in the Swinging Procedure

(This is an extract of a reply to Craig Vogel’s question about this particular subject)
To discover the location of the pressure points involved in the swinging action, do the “Drag the Wet Mop” drill and focus on pulling the mop (do not drag it by pushing it with your right arm or you’ll switch to Hitting with a different arrangement of pressures).

You can also replace the mop drill by putting your clubhead behind something very heavy and trying to move it forward by dragging the club.
You’ll easily identify 3 pressure points:

  • Pressure point #4: The point where your left arm touches the chest.
  • Pressure point #2: The last 3 fingers of your left hand dragging the club.
  • Pressure point #3: The index-trigger-finger of the right hand resisting against the club wanting to stay behind.

Swing sequences

As a reminder, here are the sequences of the Swinging Procedure. Click on the images to display the slideshow, and then use the PREVIOUS/NEXT controls to navigate through the images.

Swinging stroke video

Swinging stroke sequence

Address Startup Startup Backstroke Backstroke Top Top Lag Loading Startdown - Right arm throw Downstroke Release Followthrough - Both arms straight Finish Swivel Finish Finish Finish Finish Finish

80 Responses to “Hitting vs Swinging – Part 2 – The Swing”

  1. Kurt H Kurt H says:

    John, great E-book, its taken a few years to truly appreciate the concepts. I read you’re a hitter now, but if you put your swinger cap on….. May I ask if you have a 2, 2.5, 3 knuckle grip? In other words is the club face in perfect flat plane with your arm triangle which a 2 knuckle or so grip would produce? I find I have a much better “Feel” with a perfectly neutral club face, although the ball flight is typically higher than if I take a stronger grip (not complaining just stating fact)

    Secondarily, and most important, HOW do you initiate your backswing? Historically mine has been left side initiated with a dead but not resistive lower body. I’m finding “high” mental switching costs to go from left side takeaway and wrist cocking to transition Right side Extension to throw the club into orbit? I suppose it’d be easier if I had a right side “Feeling” takeaway to keep all the “feels” on that side?

    I probably sound crazy, but these are my “Feels” that I’m trying to reconcile as I learn

    I sort of like the idea of being a hitter, but my body type, strength, and visualization are really swinger material and thats burned in.

  2. How much rotation is entailed in the swinging action? After straiting right arm, just go for the ride or accelerate rotation of hips and/r shoulders?

    • The body rotation will automatically respond to the motion of the right arm. The most common flaw is to rotate the hips too soon and too aggressively leading to the dreaded other the top move and a slice.
      I recommend to throw the clubhead into orbit by straightening the right arm until you get the feeling that the clubhead goes below the waist THEN you can be as much aggressive as you want with the body.
      If you do it properly, you’ll feel that the arms and body turn effortless in a synched motion – you can very noticeably feel the centrifugal force in the same way an olympic hammer thrower does.

  3. doc doc says:

    How can you have active throw out with right arm if
    swinging is pulling with left arm

    • Hi doc,

      The trick here is to throw the club head into orbit by STRAIGHTENING the right arm. I did not say PULLING!

      The goal here is to put the clubhead in motion at the beginning of the downswing to initiate centrifugal force on the right track, which is what most people fail to do when trying to pull with the left arm.

  4. Jeremy Jeremy says:

    TGM is really difficult to master from theory to practice. I have to say I like your website very much and I play better not feeling p3 or p1 on my tee ball.
    I am a swinger
    I like to feel the last three fingers of my left hand and left armpit.
    I notice I feel this more when I fade my irons and when I use P2 and right middle finger I draw my irons

  5. Zul Othman Zul Othman says:

    Hi John,
    I have been following this site since 2009 and been avidly reading the forum. I have the book and is doing the acquired motion diligently.

    One question, until today, I am not sure whether I am hitting or swinging. I take the club back and then i sort of yank the club down towards the ball or my left toe with all the weight of my body behind it. This sounds like hitting to me, but I dont feel the PP#3 at all. I can feel PP# on the last three fingers of my left hand but not pp#3.

    Does it matter if I am hitting or swinging? I guess not, but I would like to know for sure.

    One last thing, I have some improvement with irons, but do i hit driver exactly with the same pressure points?
    cheers

  6. Brian Brian says:

    Great info! I’ve been trying to find my swing for the past 10 years. Been playing for 35 years but had lost my low ball flight. I ran across several websites discussing hitting or swinging and thought I was a hitter for a long time – now I’m thinking differently. Anyway, I’m using centrifugal force with great success and understand the hammer analogy. However, I think the club face up and out must be a misprint – that tells me to do the hammer move on the downswing but that the back of my right hand would have to face the ground. Anyway, I’d appreciate any clarification and thanks for your time and assistance.

    • Hi Brian,
      The club face looking up and out on the downswing is not a misprint. However this is not as extreme as having the palm of the right hand facing the sky or (same thing) the back of the hand parallel to the ground!
      If you visualize the action of the right hand on the downswing as a karate chop, then the palm of the right hand is on plane, looking out to right field and slightly looking up.
      The tricky thing with that for a majority of players is that the club face is not looking at the ball at all! This is disturbing because they unconsciously want to make the club face looking at the ball during the downswing instead on trusting centrifugal force to align the club face at the very last moment.

  7. Hi John. Just wanted to let you know that swinging with straightening the right arm (a sweeping motion) worked very well the last couple days

    I have managed to be the longest or 2nd longest driver in my group these last couple days, and in the middle of the fairway, Despite not knowing the course I played and hitting some terrible chips and putts, I was 10 over!

    In TGM terms I used a swinging motion with medium Extensor Action. Hula, Slow Pivot back and hands to shoulder level holding the Lag in # 3 PP. Step and then extend the right arm straight down, keeping the right hand and Lag facing the plane as long as possible.

    Thanks for the good teaching.

    ICT

  8. damian damian says:

    Come back John…I need help quick!

  9. gmbtempe gmbtempe says:

    John,

    Could you explain the use of the visual equivalent for a swinger, 2-J-3-A per The Golfing Machine? It talks about the blur of the clubhead but I don’t understand this at all. The equivalents for a “hitter” are very straight forward but this is alluding me.

    Can you shed some light?

    • Hi Gmbtempe

      The difference comes from the way you “see” things.

      From the top, the Hitter “sees” a direct line going from the top to his aiming point (let’s say the ball to simplify) and intends to direct his thrust down that line.
      On the other hand, the swinger thinks in terms of “whirling” the clubhead into orbit and “sees” curves instead of line.

      The blur of the clubhead passing over/through the ball in a curved path (in to out for instance) is what you see in your mind when you swing.

      As a drawing is often worth a thousand words, take a look at this image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/golflagtips/3477469577/

      The hitter will only have the blue to red arrow in his mind – a line.
      The swinger will only have the yellow curve in his mind and will imagine the clubhead travelling (in a blur!) over the ball to low point.

  10. Hi Vince

    If you turn your hips “furiously” to initiate the downswing they’ll in sequence furiously turn the shoulders and put you at great risk of doing the dreaded OTT (Other The Top) – fore right!

    The proper sequence is to perform a Hip Slide FIRST then you are free to turn your hips as “furiously” as you want.

    The Hip Slide is often referred as “clearing the hips” in magazine (They claim that it gives room for the hands to come from the inside without colliding with the hips – and is a “pro” move…!)

    The precise reason is as follows:
    1) Do a Hip Slide toward the target WITHOUT moving the head – no sway/bob (practice the move in front of a mirror to check that).
    2) Sliding the hips toward the target will lower you right shoulder and put it back ON PLANE.
    3) Well, from there you are on PLANE – you’re safe! Be aggressive with your PP#3 and drag/drive a heavy Lag/pressure to the ball.

    “Or are you just pushing off with your right instep and the hip turn is just a reaction due to your hands keeping PP#3?”

    This is a very interesting question…
    Incubate this: when you try to throw a stone with your hand, do you consciously think of spinning your hips to throw it hard?
    Or is it the natural byproduct of your intent to throw it far with your “mind in your hand”?

    Hint: Drag the Wet Mop ( http://www.golflagtips.com/drag-the-wet-mop/ ). Max out pressure in PP#3 (press your clubhead against a heavy tire) and check how your hips naturally move to comply.

    Result: The more you increase PP#3, the more your hips strongly rotate to provide support (Body Power – PP#4 – where your left arm hugs your chest).

    This said, the source of power in the Swing is centrifugal force.
    So the goal is to generate it on plane and let it go – and I explained how to do it in this post ;-)

  11. Vince Vince says:

    What are you doing with your hips on the downswing?
    Is it just a ripping turn and your arms are following?

    Or are you just pushing off with your right instep and the hip turn is just a reaction due to your hands keeping PP#3?

    I mainly just dont understand what is the source of power in a swing and I think I’ve been under a false pretense that it is the hip just turning furiously that creates power.

  12. To Mark:

    You’ve talked about trying to hammer the club into the ground outside your right foot. If you perform that action/feeling trying to hit balls, how do you make this happen on the inclined plane without digging the club into the ground way behind the ball?

    Well, this is only the geometry of the circle!
    http://www.golflagtips.com/hit-down-on-the-golf-ball-dammit/

    Pure geometry: if your clubhead is travelling in a circular motion on an inclined plane with a radius center at your left shoulder and the ball between your feet AND YOU REALLY GO TO LOW POINT, it is IMPOSSIBLE to hit the ground BEFORE the ball no matter how hard you try!!!

    Again, “trying to hammer the club into the ground outside your right foot” is a good drill/feel. But at the end of the day, the clubshaft still lays full length on the inclined plane!

    There is very often a huge difference in what you think you’re doing and what is really happening.

    Also, how do you control shots fade/draw? I’ve been taught that the initial path of the ball is controlled by the direction of the swing plane and the open/closed club face controls the spin or fade/draw.

    Shot making is only done by opening or closing the clubface, aligning your body accordingly and swing on your newly oriented swing plane. Just forget that your clubFACE is shut/open, forget that your body is closed/open and perform your normal swing!

    A very common knowledge in Golf is to think that the ball will start along your swing path and finish where your clubface is aiming. This is in fact the opposite that is happening: the ball ALWAYS leaves the clubface at right angles!!!

    But this is a huge topic on its own that must deserve a full length post!

  13. To Vince:

    Indeed, Hitting and Swinging are mutually exclusive. If you try to overpower centrifugal force with muscular thrust you end up with timing issues.

    It could be done but it’s very tricky with little benefit:
    It would be like spinning a bicycle wheel by pulling the rim and then push the spoke… pretty tough to time uh?

    You are right: In Hitting, straightening the right elbow is very active and done radially while in swinging it’s more passive and goes along with centrifugal force.

  14. Mark Mark says:

    You’ve talked about trying to hammer the club into the ground outside your right foot. If you perform that action/feeling trying to hit balls, how do you make this happen on the inclined plane without digging the club into the ground way behind the ball? Also, how do you control shots fade/draw? I’ve been taught that the initial path of the ball is controlled by the direction of the swing plane and the open/closed club face controls the spin or fade/draw.

  15. Vince Vince says:

    Another thing I noticed which lead to some throw away/slicing/baby fades with irons is that when I focused on PP3 and mixing right arm thrust with swinging is that my left arm stopped accelerating when I tried thrusting with my right arm. Leading to flipping but still feeling like I’m accelerating. I think this is the main problem with what’s been going on.

    In swinging it’s straightening of the right elbow right and not by muscular effort thrusting that right arm?

  16. Vince Vince says:

    Got it, my instructor actually got on me previously for throwing out that right wrist too early instead of keeping it hinged and maintaining the angle + lag through impact with irons, didn’t think of the application for the driver. I bet that was the case, cause irons and so on since theyre behind the low point i kept that wrist cocked still while straightening the right elbow through the impact point which lead to great shots, actually got a lot of compliments today out on the range followed by chuckles when they saw my driver, ha. There’s not enough hours in the day to practice!

  17. Hey Vince

    I suspect your erratic shots are caused by your right arm straightening too soon.
    This facilitates a straightening of the RIGHT wrist right at the ball which in turn causes consistency problems.
    You can go away with that with the other sticks because the ball is not at low point and you still have a bit of right arm left but the driver won’t let you go away like that!

    Ideally, you should make sure that your right arm is still bent at impact with the driver, but you already know that ;-) and may have trouble doing it.

    There is another solution : you must focus very hard to keep your right wrist bend (the more the better!) while straightening your right arm: I repeat – learn to straighten your right arm without bending your right wrist!

    This is not a natural move and you could Feel that your clubface is way too delofted and that the ball won’t be able to lift off – but this is the right way and you’ll look right on video!!!

  18. Vince Vince says:

    I fear that I’m throwing the club away with my driver. Where is my new “low point” to aim for?

  19. Vince Vince says:

    Hey John,
    I’m having a hell of a hard time working with the driver. 3-LW is pretty consistent and straight because it’s easy to aim for the low point, but with a driver its a whole new story. Let me give you an idea of my flight paths…
    1) Straight to a huge slice
    2) Huge Cut
    3) Duck hook
    4) Push slice
    No matter what I’m trying it’s just not happening with the driver. If I focus just on PP#3 i end up with a low pull hook. I just dont know whats going on with this club. I’m trying not to control the face at all so I think its my body stops rotating. Any ideas to get me through this pain in my life?

  20. Hey Vince

    You are right; this is a very good question.
    But Low Point and right arm extension don’t work the way you see it!
    And I feel happy for you because you have a major improvement at hand with this one!

    The truth is that Low Point is not where you reach the Both Arms Straight Position (aka the end of the Follow Through)!!!

    Watch every pro swing sequence and you’ll see that at impact (even with the driver) the right arm is still bent.
    The bend ends at Both Arms Straight position.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/golflagtips/2230351405/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/golflagtips/3477470303/

    Also check frames 9 and 10 of Trevino’s sequence: http://www.flickr.com/photos/golflagtips/2231145322/

    This has a purpose:
    When the right arm straightens, Lag Pressure ends. So it is vital that you still have some right arm at impact (especially with the Big Dog!).

    Setip up like that might FEEL a lot different to you but you have a way to greatly improve your ball striking as it makes a lot of difference in ball compression.

    Lucky You!

  21. Vince Vince says:

    minus the putter s(-_^)-b

  22. Vince Vince says:

    Hey John I have a pretty good question here…

    Since an iron is behind our low point about 5 inches or so, the right elbow isnt extended at impact but then becomes fully extended at the low point right?

    So now the question is since driver is teed up near the low point of our swing…Should you’re right elbow be close to being fully extended at that point if its behind low point and completely extended if after that low point? (I use my left armpit as a reference to a low point from wherever the ball is positioned)

    Pretty much to sum this whole post, should your right elbow be fully extended at the low point with any club in your bag?

  23. To Courtney

    “Still wondering about horizontal motion? Is it basically a full release of the clubhead? With angled hinging was I hitting push slices cause I wasn’t releasing the clubhead?”

    The release of the Power Accumulators and the Hinge Action used are two independent things.

    The horizontal hinge associated with the Swinging motion is a natural byproduct of centrifugal force and the Throw Out motion.

    The angled hing associated with the Hitting procedure is a natural byproduct of the active straightening of the right arm of the Hitter.

    In either case, you must FULLY RELEASE your Power Accumulators.

    In Swinging, the release is sequenced: Body first, uncock the left wrist with the throw out action and finally a full roll sensed by the #3 Pressure Point.

    In Hitting, the release is simultaneously done by actively straightening the right arm.
    If you hit push slices, it is very likely that you do not fully extend your right arm (the #1 power accumulator is not fully released!), certainly in an attempt and false feel to “control” the shot.

    Therefore, a good visual reference to check if release is done properly Hitting or Swinging, Active of Passive, is to check the fully extended state of your right arm in the both arms straight position.

    Straighten that right arm!

  24. To Brock

    Welcome Brock and thank you very much, I’m glad you appreciate this work and I’ll hope it will help you get the max out of your game.

    If your club head speed is fluctuating, you can take for sure that your pressure in your index trigger finger (#3 Pressure Point) is fluctuating too.

    You must learn to think in terms of pressure in your hands to control your clubhead speed.

    To make it more clear: dismiss the clubhead in your head – forget it! Move your attention to your #3PP during the WHOLE STROKE – startup to finish – and strive to keep that pressure steady during the downswing to the both arms straight position.

    If you FEEL that steady pressure in your index finger it will mean that you keep accelerating your hands and so the clubhead.

    Most of all, you’ll soon discover that you’ll be able to put a PRESSURE FEEL on different amount of pressures producing different amount of clubhead speed!

    Then, you’ll trust favorite pressure to ALWAYS produce the same amount of clubhead speed!

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The eye of the Hitter - 2 - Startdown