TEED OFF
By Robert Bicknell
 

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October 29, 2006

There are NO hidden secrets to a golf swingÖ

According to an advertisement in Golf Magazine, A.J. Bonar claims "your golf teacher is screwing up your game" and he will reveal the "truth about golf" allowing you to use the "secret move" that all the top pros use to gain massive yardage...if you send him US$89.99 for the DVD.

Naturally, all the top names in golf instruction are going apeshit over the claim.

The current school of thought is that you swing with the big muscles and keep the hands passive. Bonar claims that if you look at all the best Tour players, they actively rip through the ball using hand-speed. Golf Magazine supports the theory after seeing 50,000 shots and analysing the results.

To me, Bonarís "secret" is nothing new and the reason that I always ignore advertisements like his was for the simple reason that "there are no magic secrets". A golf swing is a relatively simple machine based on the geometry of a circle and the physics of rotation. It is a "natural act" which most children do automatically until some bonehead starts confusing them.

As a youth, I played a lot of baseball and was one of the better hitters, primarily due to very fast hand speed. It also allowed me to hit 300 yards drives and 150 yard 9-irons when I was 15 years old.

I developed this speed from playing drums and screwing around with nunchakus every day. For the record, if you hold a drumstick tightly, you will never have any speed. The same goes for nunchucks, baseball bats or golf clubs because youíve contracted the muscles.

I also discovered early on that, apart from the angle, there was very little difference in the physics of swing a golf club or a baseball bat.

In both instances, there is one trigger Ė the weight shift, and three accelerators: hip rotation, shoulder rotation and wrist rotation. Each amplifies the speed generated by the previous motion. The only real difference is that you actually take a forward step when swinging a baseball bat, whereas in golf you just put your left heel down.

And while this sounds horribly complicated, itís as natural as casually skipping a stone on a quiet lake while strolling with your lover on an autumn day. Itís a natural motion that doesnít require much thought. In fact, if you DO think about it, youíll screw it up.

The problem is that back in 1968, golf teachers believed most players didnít have the precise coordination required to put all the parts together, so they removed the hands.

I personally regard this as pure BS and constantly demonstrate the necessity and benefits of the wrists to my students by hitting a 7-iron 140 yards using ONLY arms and wrists. The secret is timing and rhythm. If you force the swing, you wonít hit it pure because the parts donít fire on time in the proper order.

If you look at Tiger Woods "new" swing, itís a lot of arms and wrists. The secret is rotating into a position which allows maximum use of your upper body. Its no secret that Tigerís training regimen is aimed at dramatically increasing his upper body strength.

Bonar claims that all good players close the club face by about 120 degrees in the two feet before and after impact. That lever, the rotating clubface, imposes tremendous energy on the ball, he says. But by swinging with your big muscles, you lose the lever. "It's like hitting a tennis ball with all arm, no wrist. You lose that extra pop."

I agree, but the question is whether this is actually good for the average player, or if the teachers in 1968 were correct by simplifying the swing.

My personal feeling is that the added "gear" (wrist rotation) should be used by the better players looking to reach the next plateau. The wrist rotation acts as an amplifier, but it also amplifies bad shots as well and it is very easy to begin relying on wrists and forget the rest of the motion which can screw a player up in a major way.

My advice to anyone looking to try this "magic truth" is to let your local professional analyse your swing and abilities before deciding if itís right for you.


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