Me on golf technique – part 2
THE CORE DRIVEN GOLF SWING
By Steve Lightfoot
Copyright c 2015
All Rights Reserved
By the time this book is published I will probably already be world famous for a news story that I will keep a secret for now. I cracked government codes in major magazines that prove we were lied to about a huge matter. Before I made this monster news discovery concerning our political situation I wanted to be a professional golfer and crack the secrets of the golf swing. The closest I got was when I found myself in 3rd place through 31 holes at one under par with five holes to go in the 1977(8)(?) U.S. Amateur qualifying round in Richmond, Va.. At that exact point in time I must have been one of the 100 best amateur golfers in America. Just six months earlier I was first entering big tournaments and doing poorly, in fact. A book I read by Alex Morrison, then, vaulted my performance and I was suddenly pretty good. On the 14th tee at the James River course at the Virginia Country Club (Where Nicklaus first met Bobby Jones) a crowd of maybe 50 people showed up out of nowhere to watch me and I discovered that I was in contention for one of the seven spots at one under through 31 holes. I bogeyed three of the final five holes to miss qualifying by a stroke and that was that. I admittedly choked from the shock of realizing I was even in contention. That I attracted a crowd was the real shock, though. At least I won the playoff for alternate on the first hole.
Fast forward to today my life has taken a circuitous, topsy turvy route and I find I have a lot to say about the golf swing. Most of my life I tried to unlock it’s secrets. While writing the first draft of this book I learned things I never knew before and so this is my second attempt to share the swing’s secrets with my fellow golfer.
The Core Driven Golf Swing; Catchy title but what does it mean? To begin with, no one body part, properly utilized, will register into success and make all the other body parts fall into place. Your body is a magnificent apparatus that can do wonders and everything is important. Most people, however, overuse their hands and arms at the expense of proper coiling and uncoiling of the body’s core and proper weight shifting, the trunk the shoulders and hips and legs, for example. This book compensates for this by emphasizing the core section of your body because more body parts do fall into place than not with the mind focusing on it than other body parts. In a correct swing the shoulders and hips create a differential that is implemented to create force and torque. The innermost part of the body and it’s workings that is often overlooked. What is often overlooked in a tour swing is how the spine, the shoulders, wind and unwind like a propeller shaft from the feet to the shoulders, especially during the strike and follow through. My basic technique is not unlike the ‘Gravity Golf’ method taught by Dennis Lee. That is, the coiling and uncoiling of the body and shifting of weight back and forth is the power source, mainly. The most efficient way to swing. The harder part of a swing is the exact path and configuration your club and arms make. It’s an oblique, yet square path and must be just so to maximize results. You need to maintain extension. You need to master the geometric path and configuration of this shoulders, arms, hands, club shaft, club head apparatus to master golf, but once you are properly grooved and have mastered grip and stance all the golf swing really is is a matter of fact coiling up of your body and hands to set up a REFLEXIVE and AUTOMATIC downswing. If you want an explosive release of the club through the ball you need to build it into your backswing. Especially near the top you want to cock those hands and shoulders exactly AWAY from impact and your target, like pulling a bowstring AWAY from the target and then just releasing. The last thought before impact is of stretching AWAY from the ball and target. POW!! To enhance this you need to also shift your weight to your back hip at the top and onto your left hip through impact, all under a steady head. This is the powerful and effortless way to swing. It means that you will golf best using a swing that uses mostly the body and not the hands so much. Your core, the shoulders, the torso and hips and legs, namely. Jack Nicklaus, in my opinion, the best golfer of all time, used this method. I appreciate that he had a very simple one piece action utilizing his entire body with the hands mostly holding on and releasing at the proper time, it seemed. In fact, to the extent that you utilize your hands to swing you automatically reign in the ability TO use your body muscles. In other words, if you have a loose grip with lots of wrist action you will find that the wrists finish the back swing and the finish instead of the shoulders and body. Conversely, if you maintain a somewhat firmish grip of, say, a 25 percent squeeze on the club and somewhat restrict the wrist action, you will find your body HAS to make up the slack and it is your shoulders that complete your turn to the top and the finish. This is a much more powerful and consistent way to play golf. There is some wrist action to be sure but the core driven motion makes sure that it is your larger body muscles that perform the swing and that the hands merely unlock the potential power therein during the release of impact. To prompt enough wrist action I recommend a set of the wrists as the swing begins, not unlike the way Dustin Johnson does. This subtle move pre programs a converse release of the hands to the target during impact. Otherwise you focus on your body to swing the club.
Ben Hogan put it this way; “A golfer will try to attack the golf swing like he does everything else in life and he will be completely wrong about everything.” What Ben meant was this; In a correct swing the shoulders and arms and hands seem to just hold back until impact. They are delivered, instead, by the lower body like a bow delivers the bow string. The minute they try to lever across and ahead of the body they defeat the purpose of a good swing. A drill I will show you to demonstrate the correct feel is to chip with a mid iron and take the club back and just forget everything to do with hands and arms and let the body pull the club through, instead. Even to the point that the arms and hands are swinging backwards all the way into impact. Can you imagine best results from swinging away from the target with your upper body, arms and hands until impact? That’s golf. Completely opposite of what you THINK would work. The art of maintaining the differentials you created going back – the shoulder coil and wrist cock away from the lower body – until impact. Pulling everything through like a bow does a bow string, your lower body being the bow. It’s an art. In late 1979 I was foolish enough to actually write Jack Nicklaus and discuss hands vs. body following an epiphany I had. At the time I thought that perhaps the hands dictate what the body does. Now I realize that a simple increase in grip pressure that day accounted for my sudden success. Being the great man he is Jack actually wrote me back. He was right, all along. It took me decades to know this, however. The hands mostly just hold on and connect the club to the body. They harness and release the energy the body provides, mostly.
One mental image of impact I liken my style of technique to is the image of an archer just before releasing the string and arrow as he simultaneously stretches the lead arm forward and the back arm back, maximizing leverage. At impact it can feel like the arms and club are pulling away from the target even as the lower body is pulling the other way, to the target. A stretch between the two forces, the more powerful lower body winning out.
Golf being golf, however, there will be times when one has to think of throwing the club to the target past the hands to do the job. Golf is just funny that way. The club passing the hands IS the most powerful part of a swing. How to do this is the trick.
As I mentioned, in 1977 I read a book from the 40’s by Alex Morrison; “A New Way To Better Golf” that vaulted my skills over night. This author greatly influenced Jack’s teacher; Jack Grout, in fact. Alex taught me to use my back muscles, for example, especially the left back and shoulder, like a sail catching wind, to power the swing at impact. Actually turning your back all the way to the target at the top makes the downswing twice as easy and powerful than if you don’t, for example. It’s one of Tiger Wood’s signature moves, in fact. Once accomplished it seems all you have to do is fall into impact and your whole torso unwinds through impact almost automatically.
Always a swing fanatic, I came to put certain golfers at the top of my list of whom to copy. Nicklaus, Weiskopf, Littler, Boros, Snead, Hogan, Ballesteros, Els, Elkington, Stewart, many others and even Mike Austin of the 30’s and 40’s. He was doing Nicklaus before Nicklaus, in fact. He influenced Jack Grout, as well. To this day I regard his action as the holy grail of how to swing a club. It’s comforting to know that he reigns as one of the most powerful and graceful golfers, ever. I’ve read almost all of their books, as well. In 1978 I was awestruck with Bobby Clampett who was, not only the world’s best amateur, by far, but, for a year, maybe the best golfer who ever lived from what I saw. I moved from North Carolina back to California to study under his teacher, Ben Doyle, in fact, to learn his very scientific method. Bobby had the advantage of being a clean slate when he started with Ben compared to me. I grasped maybe half of it, I suppose. People sometimes say to me; “Bobby Clampett” as if to indicate I swing like him. I have a good swing but Bobby’s is probably better. In 1978 it was from another time and planet, it seemed.
I consider Jack Nicklaus’s swing the very best of all time, reverse ‘C’ and all. I’ll grant not everyone could swing like Jack unless they were endowed with very powerful legs and upper body strength, were very athletic and gifted from above. If one WAS all of those things a great golf swing would appear as such;
Address, impeccable, every body part in exact perfect position. Then a smooth, one piece take away, the arms, club and shoulders all moving together. Unlike many of today’s stars the club
naturally swings inside the ball target line towards the foot target line where one’s body mass weight is, the shaft pointing TO the target at the top position, the left shoulder under the chin and pulled back. The shoulders are coiling against the resistance of the lower body. The arms are wide and extended anchored by a steady head. The wide arc that is created allows momentum to cock the club to the top. The right arm acts like a brace that keeps the arms to the right of the head and even pulls the shoulders back to the last stage of the backswing. At the top most of the weight is off the front foot and loaded on the back foot. Then, in the transition, the club is cocked even further as the lower body starts to race to the target with the legs ahead of the following uncoiling shoulders, arms and club. The right side starts to compress inward as the right elbow socks into place against the body as the left side starts to open up and race towards the target. If the backswing sequence is from the top, down, the downswing is from the bottom, up. This tightens the coil all that much more. The lower body not only transfers weight from back foot to front foot, it also rotates in a counterclockwise manner to sling everything target wards. This rotation of the hips during the strike imparts centrifugal force. Except for the automatic shift the entire club arc makes of about a foot or more towards the target from the path it made going back, (Proof of a weight shift forward.) the club and club shaft retraces the basic path it made going back, no noticeable loops. It is here that the swing is most compressed and a position from which it automatically explodes from. The actual release of the club to the target starts from the beginning stage of the downswing creating an all out unleashing of the club down and through the ball to a full, spent finish. One fell swoop from the start down to finish. You have to wait a little and time things and not get out of sequence but it is one move to the finish. The body beats the arms and club to the ball, the lower body racing forward as the upper body stays back. Going down, the right arms folds in to the right side like a spear point leading the arms and hands and club. Similarly the 90 degree angle between the club and arms puts the hands in a similar spear point position ahead of the club head. During the first half of the downswing as the right side is compressing inward the right leg pushes with all it’s might into the ground to transfer the weight to the front leg and hip upon which the weight lands and absorbs the force of the club’s centrifugal force by pushing up against the ground with all IT’S might at impact to maximize club speed at impact. At this point the hands allow the whole club to make a complete 180 rotation of both shaft and club head. It’s breathtaking to notice just how all out the rotation of the whole club really is in the bottom of the swing and the follow through. One second the shaft is pointing to the target, the hands leading the club, the next moment the shaft is pointing to the target only now the club is ahead of the hands. 180 degrees of, not only the shaft, but also the club head, the face going from open to shut closed over itself after impact. There is no room to ‘steer’ the club in a correct release. It’s all out abandon having chosen the proper path, first. By impact the weight is almost off the back foot and on the front foot. The right shoulder, arms and club go under the head as the whole assembly rotates, 180 degrees, shoulder over shoulder, club head over handle and toe over heel with club head. A trio of batons all rotating end over end, the shoulders, club shaft and club head. This is where all that pent up power is unleashed. A multiplication of levers unwinding. Part of the rest of the swing is bringing it to a safe stop without wrenching your back out of shape. That part comes instinctually.
In this whole process the shaft is aiming to the target whenever it is parallel to the ground; one third back, the top, halfway down, and halfway through the finish. In this way the club naturally wants to follow it’s way towards the target maximizing accuracy.
I mentioned Jack’s reverse “C” finish. One other thing about Jack’s technique is that he arrests the uncoiling of his shoulders more than a modern swing to spare his back the strain. His elbows often finished like a team pointing towards the target and skyward in his prime. This nuance may have increased his accuracy, too. His head does come up a little from impact to ease the back as well.
The thing about Jack’s technique is it’s majesty and perfectness and stunning body positions and fullness and athleticism. One for the ages that come along once in a very great while, only. As if God wanted man to know what the matter was really about.
There are a few modifications that are allowed since most of us are not strong enough to support exactly Jack’s swing. The two modifications I recommend are; (1) Allow a wrist break early in the swing to take that concern out of mind. Set it and forget it, making sure to set it at the proper, exact angle to eliminate any undo manipulation later. Nothing dramatic, just a subtle cracking of the wrists from it’s straight, locked position. (2) Rather than hanging back with the steady head you had at address, allow the upper body to move up and forward towards the finish with the right shoulder swinging around to the target more. A kind of walking into your lead leg for the finish to take all the strain off your lower back. Everything else in Jack’s swing, however, is pure gold to copy and anyone should be able to do so. A great swing actually conditions the body with the leg work, the stretching and coiling and uncoiling and is very involved. A great swing should give you a satisfying workout. A tonic. It should actually make you young and strong without a gym. Funny thing I’ve noticed. When I swing effortlessly with a big arc I find myself having to breath harder between shots than one would think. It’s because you are implementing the large muscles TO swing without effort and they are getting a workout, nonetheless. You’re SUPPOSED to use your core, after all. It’s at the center of everything. More of an instigator than a follower. From all it’s churning and weight shifting centrifugal force flows.
I will refrain from listing today’s stars and their techniques as they shouldn’t be saddled with that kind of scrutiny while trying to carve out their niche. The overall technique of today’s stars, however, is more simplified. The simplest of all being, perhaps, the swing of Steve Stricker. Very quiet in the hands dispelling the notion one needs a lot of wrist angles to play good golf. All modern swings have a few things in common, however; a good shoulder turn back and forward, a wide arc and good extension throughout, saving the most intense wrist action for the mid downswing to past impact whereupon the club is released head over handle and even toe over heel, almost propelled and not just merely swung. They all have the same weight shifting with the weight coming off the front foot near the top and off the back foot near impact finishing hard on the lead leg, belly facing the target, shoulders completely spent. For a period of time the modern pros made the error, in my opinion, of laying the club shaft “off” at the top and shaping their swing path too outside in versus inside to square but that anomaly is fading and a better, more square path, is reappearing. I imagine this brief anomaly got started by players trying to take the club straight back away from the ball, tracking the ball line with the butt of the club to the top and attacking the ball from exactly opposite the target on the way down. This is not square, however. It leaks power. In fact, the club head should go from the ball line at address to the stance line at the top. From the top it should return to the ball line at impact and then back to the foot line at the finish. In this manner the mass of one’s body is better leveraged into impact. An inside to square shape. It’s better to focus on a line between the ball and feet in this respect to track. I always loved the way Nicklaus and others would have the shaft point TO the target at the top and not left of it. More body mass trapped for impact that way, I think. It seemed they used their body like a propeller shaft and just held on with the hands. Even crossing the line a little is not a bad idea in this respect. Today’s longest hitter (Hogan cap and all) does exactly this. I like to teach the idea of finding the SHAFT aimed to the target whenever it is parallel to the ground. One third back, at the top, mid down swing, and mid follow through, for example. The finish involves extra foot rotation that negates this requirement, however. This method uses the target line to instill accuracy and efficiency. A matter of training the shaft to naturally achieve good results.
There are many requirements to proper technique. The wind up to the top should be at least 90 degrees in the shoulders from address and the finish should be as far in the other direction as your body will allow. On a full driver swing the pros, in fact, achieve about 100 degrees at the top. Turn your back TO the target at the top in every full swing. In these pro’s modern swings you will also notice that their lower body resists against this turn of the shoulders so as to create torque for the forward swing. The pros start the swing in the shoulders and they start to rotate immediately into the back swing. In a proper swing the lower body leads the upper body into impact from the top. The hips unwinding just before the upper body follows. The coil of the upper body and the wrist angle are preserved well into the downswing. A powerful shift of the hips and legs to the target from the top to the finish gives the club it’s impetus. You will also notice in the modern swing a minimum of unnecessary motion. Pretty much a one piece turn away from the target and a one piece turn to the target with a minimum of hand flourish. You also want to swing the entire apparatus of your club and arms along a parallel path to the target as much as possible, but especially the club shaft. The release should be so unbridled that you need at least the apparatus of arms and club swinging along the target line to maximize accuracy. In iron shots and all shots but a driver and lob wedge you want to deliver the club in a descending manner so that the divot occurs just past where the ball was. Put a tee in the ground opposite the ball and make sure your divot starts there and finishes well past that point. I prefer to take shallow divots, myself, as I prefer a higher shot trajectory. It’s also easier on the wrists.
In this book I will show you how to properly align your club, the shaft, your arms and shoulders, how much roll is allowed in the club head opening and closing (90 degrees open to the top and 90 degrees closed from impact to finish but no more than that) to maximize your accuracy and power. As with all instruction manuals the proper grip and address, of paramount importance, are emphasized as keys to your success. So, let’s begin there;
The Proper Grip;
The proper grip pressure is where I’d like to begin. As an admirer of Freddy Couple’s swing I adopted a loose, freewheeling swing most of my life. Freddy is the exception that proves the rule and his is a most beautiful and poetic and powerful and long lasting swing technique, indeed. It’s as if power pours out of his motion as the ball rises to it’s apex and falls. Most of us are not blessed with Freddy;’s talent and ability to use his brand of artistry, however. His finish is among the best, ever. I suspect his grip pressure at impact is a lot firmer than it was at take away or even mid downswing. He has learned how to co ordinate all this juggling of various amounts of pressure as he swings. Bobby Jones, in fact, slightly opened up his grip at the top, it seemed, and re gripped it coming down and HE was one of the best golfers who ever lived. Ben Hogan, while having a magnificent body swing, also had a lot of wrist cock to his downswing and release. I happen to recommend, after much trial and error, and as one with only more than average natural talent, a firmish grip of about 30 percent pressure that never changes as you swing the club. It may, indeed, firm up a little during the strike, subconsciously, but, at no time, does the pressure or squeeze on the club fall below 30 percent. This is key. From address to finish I recommend a somewhat firmish grip. It’s the difference between letting the club determine your body’s actions and your body determining the clubs action, instead. With a looser grip your body wants to conform to whatever motion your club is making and go along with that motion. With a firmish grip the club has no say in the matter. It is at the mercy of your grip on the club and your body’s actions. A manhandling of the club, in a sense. Putting the horse in front of the buggy. At first attempt it may seem like you focus on the bottom half of the swing only. What happens below the hips. In doing so you may find your legs and hips more automatically shuttle ahead and into place before you deliver the blow to the ball. Proper lower body action becomes more automatic and instinctive when your grip is ‘firmish’. If you used a three quarter swing, only, you’d HAVE to add a little more squeeze to the grip TO make a swing. A loose grip wouldn’t suffice. That’s the logic. You actually gain power with a firm grip that manhandles the club. My distance has increased at least ten percent since I made the change. My accuracy is better, too.
When Sam Snead made his famous remark about grip pressure he said; “Hold it like a bird, firm enough to keep it in your hands but not so firm you hurt it.” Being a country boy from West Virginia Sam would know that any normal bird would not allow you to hold it without trying with all it’s might to wrestle itself free from your grip. THAT’S what Snead meant; like a bird trying to wriggle out of your grip. THAT firm.
Nicklaus has said that the grip pressure should never change in a swing but remain constant. That means at least a 30 percent squeeze just to hold onto the club during impact. Otherwise it would fly out of your hands under the centrifugal forces. Tom Watson, another great golfer, agrees that you must have a certain firmness to your grip. Nick Price even mentioned as much as a 70 percent squeeze on the club. I prefer an equal distribution of pressure overall, no one part of the hands tighter than the rest. Some pros talk of leveraging the last three fingers of the left hand against the middle two fingers of the right hand but I find this unnecessary. So long as you have a commanding hold on the club you will transmit body power through impact.
The secret is to not let this tension ride up into your shoulders but be confined to the forearms, throughout, and never decrease at any point. Your shoulders must be free to move without restrictions. Happy shoulders – happy shots. You should have a 50 / 50 relationship, in fact, between hands and shoulders, not one or the other taking over too much. This tip, alone, works wonders.
Now, about a grip’s construction;
Both palms should face each other in a proper grip and form a wall that faces the target. After your grip is secure this requirement should be met. I prefer the interlocking style of grip that marries the hands together but some prefer the Vardon grip that merely overlaps the pinky of the right hand over the fingers of the left. The ten finger is better suited for putting than a full swing as the separation actually slows down the speed of your club at impact.
In the left hand, if you open the grip and look at it sideways, the club should nestle from the first joint of your first finger to just below where the fingers connect to your palm. A diagonal position felt mostly in the fingers but partly in the palm as well. Don’t push the left thumb down the grip too much. Just hold the club in a natural manner and avoid anything that might lead to injuring your hands. In the positioning of the right hand it is less diagonal and is felt more in the fingers than the palm. The club lays more across the middle joints of the right hand. The left thumb should angle slightly towards your right shoulder, the thumb almost right on top of the grip while the right hand should look like a pair of tweezers with the thumb and forefinger evenly straddling the top of the grip, the V between the thumb and finger aiming between your neck and right shoulder as well.
I’ve tried every other variation and have learned that there IS no good variation from this standard grip. A screwing inward of both hands, in fact, led me to begin writing this book, but I’ve conformed to the standard grip, after all.
The Proper Stance;
Perhaps the most important part of the swing, excluding impact, the proper stance determines everything else you do. Anything less than perfect here and your whole swing pays the price for it. The address HAS to be spot on, perfect. From the correct stance even a poor swing will work pretty good. From a poor address a perfect swing just won’t work at all. There is a sweet spot and I’ll try to nail it down for you.
To begin with, align your feet the same as you want your club head to travel. It will naturally want to travel as your feet are aligned. I recommend exactly square to the target, neither open or closed. Parallel, like standing on railroad tracks with your feet on one track and the ball on the other. For a fade you want to open it up and close it down for a draw.
You want to flex the knees a little and bend a little from the waist. I recommend a little snuggling up to the ball for more leverage versus reaching for the ball. Your arms should hang down naturally and only lift up to meet the club a little. More so with a driver than a wedge, for example. Crisp body lines improves posture and is healthier. A straight back line instead of a slumping posture, for example. Try sticking your chest out a little at address, in fact. A common tip is to also stick your butt out a little. Shoulders, hips and knees and feet should all be in line. Both legs should be aligned exactly. The arms, that’s another matter. Because the right hand is lower on the club than the left the right elbow will want to stick out in front of your left elbow as seen from behind looking down the target line. The exact opposite position is required to offset this fact. The right elbow should be just slightly closer to your body than the left elbow. This balances out the arms. You WANT to approach impact from slightly inside to square. This allows for that to happen. It also restricts a premature release of the club and swinging outside, in. You want to attack the ball with your body mass behind impact and that only occurs with an inside to square impact path. The left foot opens up to the target a little, about ten degrees, while the right foot points almost straight ahead opening up only very slightly the other way.
You want to position the ball opposite your left instep or slightly behind that spot depending on the club. The biggest weight shift is to the target and you need the ball to be positioned ahead of center to properly meet it during the strike. A wedge has so much loft that impact occurs slightly later in the swing than with a driver face. A driver also wants to strike on the level or on the upswing a little and so the DRIVER, only, is positioned at least opposite the left instep or even a smidge farther target wards. Most other swings involve a descending blow at impact and it’s O.K. to move the ball back a little for the shorter irons. Never more than in the middle of your stance except for knock down shots and custom shots, however. When completed there should be a reverse “K” look to the set up, your left arm and club mostly vertical with the right leg and arm forming an angled in reverse “K” look against the straighter look of the left side.
Regarding width of stance; about shoulder width. With a short iron the outside of your shoes should be about shoulder width. With a driver the insides of your shoes should be about shoulder width. If you go too wide you cramp your action and body parts. If you go too narrow you lose stability.
You want your head to be positioned so that the ball is opposite your left ear. You want your head behind the ball. Less so with short irons. You want your hands to be positioned even with or slightly ahead of the ball (Driver excepted) From your field of vision the proper positioning of head and hands is such that your grip should block out your left instep of your left foot. As you look down your grip should be in the way of seeing your left instep. This puts a slight rearward tilt of your spine into play. At impact this rearward tilt is even more pronounced as your hips travel target wards to transfer weight. The head remains relatively still until near the finish of the swing at all times. Think of spinning a weight on a string. The tighter you can keep the center the faster the weight swings. Same with a golf swing. Once you start to travel with the center the centrifugal forces wobbles into inefficiency. Keep your head steady until almost the finish of the swing. It’s another one of the unnatural feeling things a good swing requires.
Your weight should be very evenly distributed left to right and back to front. On iron shots it’s O.K. to favor your left side a little. For the driver it’s O.K. to favor the back foot a little. A face front look at the address should show the hips ever so slightly positioned towards the target against a slightly tilted back head position. This is what is called spine angle at address, slightly leaning away from the target.
Starting The Swing; THE BACKSWING:
Now that you have the correct grip and stance, the all important swing, itself, must be accomplished. It’s always a good idea to think ahead a little and consider what you want to happen at impact before you even start. How much club speed and at what angle of attack does the shot you need to make require? To know the answer to this question you must first visualize the exact shot you want. One reason, in fact, most golfers hit better shots on the practice tee versus the course is exactly because they have a clear picture, already, of the shot they want to hit. They have just hit one and watched it’s flight seconds earlier. They have a good sense of what they are trying to accomplish already. Once you can “see” the shot it’s easier to know what impact requirements you’ll need to pull it off. Whenever Bobby Jones watched the pros as a youngster he watched the ball being struck and not the golfer to ingrain in his mind what all the fuss was about. Most of this is decided as you stand exactly behind the ball looking down the target before you assume your stance. You see the shot you want, as if you’ve just hit one just like it, and you then decide what impact requirements are needed. Then you step into your address. Even at address you have to replay all this in your head before pulling the trigger. You access how much you weigh and how much the ball weighs and how heavy your club head is and how much wind you are hitting into and you consider all this information before doing anything. You may want to jiggle all your body parts a little to refresh yourself where they all are, in fact. One last look at the target and you begin the swing.
Now you make the first move away from the ball. In almost all instructional manuals you hear of a ‘one piece’ take away. That is, the left arm, right arm, club shaft and club head and shoulders all move as one as if cast in plaster the first few feet. This is basically correct. I like to add a subtle set of the wrists just before all this happens, however. It allows you to take your mind off of all the hand action that follows setting up a reactive opposite release after impact the other way and it establishes the exact angles you want to properly align the shaft and it’s relationship to your arms. By pre setting all this up with a subtle move right before take away you are able to block out all these considerations and focus on the rest of your swing. Observe the way Dustin Johnson does this and you’ll appreciate just how subtle a move it is. Barely perceptible. This move also redirects the tugging against your body that would otherwise pull you off balance to the right and sends the centrifugal force more upwards allowing you to still coil and have a large arc while not being pulled so off balance. It reduces the tendency to sway off the ball going back. Just make sure your wrist cock never exceeds 90 degrees to the top. If your wrists ever do go beyond that it should be in the early and mid stage of the downswing, only.
Now, what else should happen as the swing starts? You have to appreciate the geometry of the turn itself. Think of your shoulders as a door knob sticking up from your spine angle and just turning your shoulders like that door knob. Like an angled tomato can sitting on top of your hips that you turn without wobbling that image. This sets up correct shoulder coil geometry. How your spine is angled determines the axis this coil is made from. Remember, shoulders should aim to the target at address.
Now, you’ve all seen what happens when you throw a stone into a pond. It ripples out with concentric circles but only after the first central circle appears first. The other circles follow that first circle. That’s how you wind up your swing, the first circle beginning where your neck meets your shoulders. Or even a spot below the back of your neck that lies exactly between the two shoulders. From this center you start to coil. The two bones from the neck to the shoulder tips create more power per their motion than any other bones in the body, in fact. In cascading layers below this the rest of your shoulders and torso coil afterwards. As this coil moves the mass and weight of the club and arms away from the target your weight automatically shifts away from the target as well. Only because this cascading effect tugs at other body parts below do these parts start to coil at all. It starts in the shoulders, then the mid and lower torso, then the hips, then the knees, and finally the feet. The idea is to coil as much above and as little below as you comfortably can while still getting the club shaft to point to the target at the top of the back swing and maintain a big arc and maintain proper alignment going back. This creates torque. Like passing a note with your left hand to someone standing to your right you reach back away from the target with your left side and create a deep and wide arc. The only reason Jack Nicklaus had so much hip, knee and foot action is because he was very stout, muscularly. His musculature was so taught with muscle his physique required more hip and knee and foot action than others. With him the core driven method came naturally, tapping his abundant resources. Tiger Woods, being built more like a greyhound, is thus able to restrict his lower body action more creating a huge differential between hips and shoulders. They both, however, coil their body to the top from the top down. Neither lets his lower body coil too early into the back swing. Conversely, they both uncoil from the ground upwards in making a downswing. It’s like the dynamics of a bow and arrow. You get more power by both pushing your lead arm away from you as you also pull the bowstring towards you with the other arm at the same time. The downswing becomes almost reactive and instinctual as a result with the proper lower body leading the way down. By the way, in my opinion, no one will ever surpass the foot action of Jack Nicklaus. It was stunning in it’s perfection. His was such that his lead foot was nearly level at impact, not too rolled over, while his right instep was always butterfly light, riding on the instep, the heel only slightly off the ground. Every time, like clockwork. Similarly, your foot action should also roll on the insteps allowing for a little alternate heel rise in both directions.
In a nutshell, the shoulders lead and power the back swing and the lower body leads and powers the down swing. The swing, therefore, starts with the shoulders turning as soon as the club moves away from the ball. In this sense they are, indeed, “one piece” with the club. Who can deny that it is Tiger Wood’s shoulder region that was most developed in his method of swinging? Most tour pro’s, in fact, have broad shoulders honed by their usage.
Still, we are discussing the back swing and there’s lots more to cover; What about the arms and club and hands? What must they be doing as you make this coil from the top down before the downswing starts?
They DO move in a one piece fashion locked solid to the rotating shoulders the first few feet. I prescribe a subtle pre set of the wrists to take that consideration out of the equation and set up an automatic return un cocking of the wrists past impact. The arms and club must also start out on the right path. I like to make sure that the elbows and club move straight back away from the target the first foot or so. I also like to make this move smoothly and not snatch the club away from the ball. While some players feel the need to build speed early to achieve maximum impact speed I feel this is a fallacy. Just fast enough to slightly aid the journey to the top using some centrifugal force to help the arms and club get up there but only that amount of speed. Think of tossing a baseball into the air before hitting it out to the bleachers. No big rush just a gentle tossing up of the ball. Some may even find a “ridiculously” slow start is helpful, in fact. It sure helps quiet the nerves and instills discipline. If you swing to the top too fast you are likely not to properly coil the shoulders relying on momentum, instead, to finish the job. If the shoulder’s move to the top involves any speed it is the last bit to the top, only. The business end of the swing is from mid downswing to mid follow through, anyway. That’s where you pour on the power. By starting out smoothly you are more likely to properly coil up your shoulders and save your speed for the impact zone. This also allows your lower body some time to get ahead of the upper body as you start down.
The path your club head makes is from the ball line at address to the foot line at the top. This requires some inside to square configuration. Think of a door closing. It makes an arc, not a straight line. So does a golf swing. The trick is to travel through impact without touching an imaginary stick positioned just outside the ball aimed to the target. So that the overall path is target ward but still on an arc’s trajectory. That’s why golf is an “art” It requires some abstract thinking to make it work. The club moves from the ball line to the foot line to the top and, from there, back to the ball line at impact and back to the foot line at the finish. Meanwhile the shaft tries to align with the target line as much as possible, throughout. As Mike Austin says; “There are no straight lines in a golf swing.” A very powerful golfer has a straighter, longer arc through impact than a less powerful golfer. I once saw John Daley take a divot with a six iron from the rough that was over two feet long, for example. It’s still an arc, though.
Some key reference points should be adhered to. As the club is parallel to the ground one third back the shaft should be aimed to the target and, as viewed from the target, be hidden behind your hands. Not inside or outside but in line with the hands. By this stage the club head is many inches inside the ball line it was at at address. From there to the top the angle of the shaft traces an angle diagonal from the target line to the foot line, the same angle it comes back down on. At the top the whole club and shaft should also be aimed to the target and positioned above your shoulders over the foot line. The downswing must also be discussed here as the two are inseparable. A straightening occurs as the downswing tightens things, erasing the angle between the shaft and arms it had going back placing the hands slightly higher in the air than they were going back at the same stations. Still, the club should be hiding behind the hands, as seen from the target’s perspective, as the shaft is parallel to the ground just before the strike. Ditto as it is parallel to the ground just past impact, only the club head and shaft now are positioned in front of the hands from the target perspective. Make sure the shaft is aimed to the target at these critical junctures, also. The natural roll of the toe over the heel and the hand rotation inherent in that happens with abandon, the aforementioned alignment guides providing automatic accuracy, or at least maximizing accuracy.
The right elbow has to bend to the top. It HAS to. Just as the wrists also have to allow an angle to occur. How far should it be allowed to wing away from the body? It should neither hug too tightly nor wing out too wildly from the trunk. I like to allow a natural sense of freedom while still keeping it close enough to reliably return it to the proper spot for delivery. Moderation. A wrist angle beyond 90 degrees at the top is not necessary. In the downswing the right elbow leads the hands into the ball. Tiger Woods is a good example of this correct articulation of the right elbow leading ahead of the hands until just before impact. Better leverage One must extend outward in a swing with both arms and not pull inward. Not so much you are pulled off balance and sway but enough to supply a large enough arc to develop good speed for impact. Don’t cramp your swing. You have to reach outwards for power at all times. Payne Stewart had both a very wide arc going back and down. As a young man, unable to get up close to the action, sometimes, at live events, I would notice that Nicklaus’s swing arc rose high above the crowd’s heads compared to his contemporaries. Remember to always turn your back TO the target before you start down. Like slinging a bag of laundry over your shoulders that aims itself to the target at the top. Otherwise the swing becomes out of joint and and effortful. Like cocking the hammer of as gun you wait until the distinctive “click” occurs before you start down. Because you shift your weight downward and towards the target as soon as the downswing begins, however, the downswing arc is re positioned maybe a foot or more towards the target. Like two giant Hoola Hoops leaning against a wall, one a foot ahead of the other. While the club tries to match the path down it made going back the actual path is bumped a foot or more target wards in response to the shift of your center of gravity for the downswing. Also, because the wrists cock most in the downswing the club head goes down under the path it made going up to the top. This, also a result of the weight shifting straight down, initially.
You’re better off swinging from where your body is to outwards, away from it, slightly inside, out, versus from outside, where your body isn’t, to across your body to the left. You harness more body mass this way. You want to avoid slapping across your body in an outside, in, manner. Pull the club and arms through with the lower body from where the body is, not from where it isn’t. Somewhere from between the ball and foot lines. Just make sure that it’s going through square AT impact.
The left arms stays relatively straight from address to mid follow through whereupon IT has to also bend.
How much opening and closing of the hands is correct? Put a golf club on a table with the toe straight up in the air. Have this represent address. Now roll it open to the right 90 degrees. Have this represent the top position. Now roll it back to straight up and have this represent impact. Now roll it to the left 90 degrees and have this represent the finish. It’s about that simple and straightforward. Never more than 90 degrees in either direction but, from top to finish, it’s a 180 degree rotation in all. That’s why you see such a dramatic turnover of the toe through impact whenever you watch a pro in slow motion. It’s the final lever that moves in a swing. It just has to to swing naturally. Any more than this degree of rotation is useless and not necessary. You may use slightly less, however, if you choose. You have the shoulder bones from the neck out, the left and right upper arms, both lower arms, the club shaft and, finally, the “L” shaped head, itself. All these levers contribute to multiply speed through impact. Add the hundred or so other body bones and you have quite a symphony of levers, in fact. The club head is merely the final lever that also swings into the ball.
As I said, by setting a subtle angle from the start, all this should happen without having to even think about it at all. The trick is setting that wrist / club angle exactly correctly. That’s why there is practice, trial and error and cameras to make sure you do. A case of “Set it and forget it.”
As for the downswing and all of the forward swing, it starts from your grip with your feet to the ground, upwards, and in that order. Like a bow stretched taught against the shoulder coil above, now you uncoil everything from the ground, up. The arms, club and shoulders seem suspended in space just waiting for the lower body to pull them all through without any effort on their part. It’s a feeling of relaxing all those muscles and allowing the lower body to usher them through, instead. A drill I recommend to instill this sensation is to take a mid iron and hit chip shots using your shoulders, arms and hands for only the back swing. No real wrist break, just a take away, and to then leave them out of things and return the club to the target using only your lower body. The upper body takes the club back, the lower body takes over from there and makes the forward swing all by itself, the hands and arms just holding on feeling as if they are doing nothing. The hit is applied with a body nudge pulling the club through. You can even perform this drill by having your shoulders, arms and hands and club going back at all times only to have the body interrupt things, taking control at the same time, returning the club the other way even as the hands are taking it back away from the target. You can gradually apply this drill with fuller swings. This drill is key to learning the Core Driven Golf Swing. It goes against all natural instincts and is revolutionary in learning the proper golf swing. It is this very conundrum that Hogan was referring to in his famous quote mentioned earlier. Once that sensation is learned, you can focus on how to apply speed. Save the most speed for impact to finish and get from top to impact in a flash with utter dispatch. Good golf requires a vigorous acceleration, just save the best for the target side of the ball. After impact.
Especially with a firmish grip you will find it necessary to shuttle your hips and legs into position ahead of the strike. Especially so entering the hitting zone. Like the bow ahead of the bow string you need to anchor with the legs and hips to launch the rest of the action. Like the bow, so is the lower body to the upper body going forward. At the same time you are trying to get ahead of the hit with the lower body you are also trying to stay back with the upper body. You want to preserve that “X” factor differential between the shoulders and hips you created to the top well into the downswing. You also want to preserve the 90 degree or more angle between the arms and club shaft you created at the top until almost impact, as well. As your whole body and all it’s bones are leveraging through impact NOW you allow the full release of the whole club, head over handle and toe over heel all the way to the other side of the ball. A mighty SWOOSH! where it all unleashes with abandonment. No steering allowed. Just let it all go through like a crashing wave on the beach.
There is the matter of shifting weight in this whole process. As discussed earlier one’s weight comes mostly off the forward foot at the top and off the rear foot during the strike. This is a fact and no two pros do this exactly the same. Inherent in this fact one has to shift his mass back and forth in a swing to maximize power. But there’s more to it than just back and forth. There is also up and down shifting to maintain a constant tug against wherever the weight of the club is at any given point. There is actually a circular shifting of weight to achieve this centrifugal force. I am unique in pointing this fact out, in fact. At the top position, the weight over mostly the back leg, now you move into the forward swing and your first move, believe it or not, is straight down against the straight up position of the club. Sam Snead’s famous “squat” position in mid downswing looks just like a man jumping out of an airplane. Straight down. By the time his club shaft is parallel to the ground it seems he is tugging, instead, straight towards the target, again, opposite where the club is. By impact his body seems to be vaulting itself upwards against gravity pushing upwards with his legs as the weight of the club goes down to the bottom of the swing. By mid follow through it seems he is pulling away from the target with his weight against the position of the club. A circular, ever changing shifting of weight that is, I believe, just ahead of the opposite position of the weight of the club head at all time. Just ahead of, but not exactly opposite of to achieve the centrifugal force. Otherwise it would be a static force. That’s another reason why golf is an “art”. It’s exactly the principle involved in swinging a weight on a string. The smaller your center circle of motion is – the tiny move made in your fingers – the faster the outside circle goes. Similarly, the ever changing tug against that weight that produces centrifugal force is just ahead of the opposite position of the weight, itself. Dynamic, versus static, energy.
The preponderance of shifting is back to front. That’s the purposeful shift that moves the ball forward. Even though you pull back from the target with your arms in the follow through to maintain balance it is because you have sent so much momentum TOWARDS the target in the first place. That’s why all your weight lands on the front foot in the finish. The big shift is back to front. The shift from front to back to the top position is partly a result of your club and arms mass moving in that direction naturally displacing weight away from the target.
How does this shift happen? What body parts effect it’s use? If the head is stationary and the feet are also fixed then only the middle can move at all to do this. With a Nicklaus physique the shin bones move first, ahead of the hips, angling towards the target. His legs were strong enough for that to be the natural sequence. For most of us, however, the hips and thighs both open up and shift target ward and perform this weight shifting. It happens just before anything upstairs happens, too. This gives the legs and hips a head start of the upper body planting the anchor from which the lower body can pull the upper body and club through with. Bobby Jones went as far as to say this jump ahead of the upper body with the hips is the most important move in a golf swing. Does this happen the first move down or slightly later in a downswing? That matter is up for debate. Certainly it happens just before you deliver the strike. In viewing the stop action photos of Mike Austin there is almost a foot of travel target wards in the hips from the top to impact creating a severe spine angle. Mike Austin was a body builder and could go that far but most of us cannot and should not. At least half that, however, on most full shots I recommend. The intricacies of this lower body move vary a little depending on body types but the idea remains the same. To shift the club forward you have to shift the center of your gravity, first, while keeping a steady head at the same time. This shift moves the entire swing arc a foot or more target wards than it was going back to the top. Like the two Hoola Hoops leaning against a wall, one a foot ahead of the other. If you choose to copy a player I recommend Hogan, Nicklaus or Snead or whomever your body type applies to. These players, however, are legend in their correctness. At impact the hips are about 35 to 45 degrees open from the square position of address while the shoulders are almost square at impact. At the finish position the hips have opened up at least 90 degrees or more from square, the navel aimed to the target and almost all of one’s weight on the forward foot. The shoulders have rotated another 130 degrees from impact to the finish. That’s a whole lot of rotation going on, indeed. From top to impact only 90 degrees. This fact underscores why the most club speed should occur after impact even if this is not the fact. It should feel like that. Like a karate expert breaking a board thinking past the point of impact. In all, from the top to finish, the shoulders rotate about 220 degrees or more. This reveals just how important their use really is. It is the lower body’s job to propel them through like that, from the ground up.
As for the shoulders, arms and club there is a blueprint to follow, also; From address, following a subtle set of the correct wrist angle, they coil up to the top, the club shaft gradually completing a 90 degree angle. This journey involves a wide arc with the shoulders rotating as much as comfortably possible before changing directions. The club shaft should be aimed to the target at the top with the arms extended. On the way from the top to the finish, – it should be one fell swoop – waiting for the lower body to shift target wards and open up a little, first, these upper body parts all stay cocked as they were at the top well into the downswing. The shoulders don’t open too early, the club cock doesn’t open up, either. If anything the club angle increases a little in mid downswing allowing the body more freedom to move ahead. By mid downswing, the weight shift moving more right to left than it’s initial shift down, now, all these levers start to unfold and apply their power. By impact the legs are pushing up hard against the ground opposite the downward position of the club to maximize centrifugal force. At impact 90 percent of your weight is on your lead foot and leg and your right foot is already off it’s heel, riding in it’s instep as you transfer the weight to the other side of the ball. Meanwhile the shoulders arms and club are freewheeling 180 degrees from halfway down to halfway through, including the club head, itself. A violent release of all your body’s levers and all it’s hundred, plus, bones and muscles. No steering allowed. Proper alignments of all levers, back and forward, especially shaft angles, pre determine accuracy, instead. Of course the forearms rotate and roll over one another in the process. By the time you have any time to think about things you are already at the finish position, your body and club fully spent, the ball on it’s merry way, hopefully to the target. In all this maelstrom you want to keep your hands ahead of the club at impact, swinging, not only your club, but also your hands with speed like a club head unto themselves. If there is one swing though that involves the hands that works it is to pretend your hands are the club head, itself, and you are hitting the ball with them, as if with no club at all, swinging the hands with speed into the ball. It’s a conundrum of this otherwise body oriented technique. The one hands thought that seems to fit. I notice how Mike Austin has his hands well ahead of the ball at impact, in fact, affirming his hand speed at impact. You need both hand and club speed during the strike. Otherwise, I urge you to never consciously hit with anything above your chest muscles at any point. Let the lower body below your shoulders send everything forward and over ride the upper body’s attempt to always hold back and pull back like a bow sting at all times. That’s the Core Driven Golf Swing method. Before you know it the lower body hit the ball, anyway in spite of holding back with the upper body, arms and club..
That pretty much wraps up The Core Driven Golf Swing method. Now I’d like to touch on the other parts of the game such as putting, for example, and custom shots like chipping and lob shots, knock down shots, draws, fades and the other finer points of the game. I have my opinion about how to swing a club. I also have an opinion about the other parts of the game as well. Even the psychological side of the game that separates the greats from the rest of the pack..
There are also the finer points, not listed above, that I will go over, as well. I wanted the first section to be simplified on purpose and will discuss them later.
The “Greatness” factor;
To keep this book interesting I will mix things up a little, here, and turn to the character issues of playing top level golf.
I watched the greatest golfer of all time play about 20 live events including two Masters and several U.S.Opens and I can tell you Mr. Nicklaus was very reliable and consistent. I don’t know what his overall statistics are but I can tell you, from what I observed about his play that he hit 80 % of every fairway, hit the proper side of the fairway another 80 % of the time, hit 80 % of every green in regulation and was exactly pin high another 80 % of the time. This last fact is unchallenged by anyone and a testament to his method that delivered a reliable distance every time. He sank 75 % of his 5 foot putts and rarely three putted. His wedge game was better than most but not as sterling as his other areas. He so seldom needed to scramble he never honed that part of his game to the same standards as the rest. His long iron play is legendary and, for his era, one of the most powerful golfers ever. He did all of this using steel shafts and wood headed long clubs and even a ball that was less than ideal in that his equipment company wound their balls without first freezing the liquid centers resulting in kidney shaped centers instead of round. Nothing stopped him from overachieving, however. What I admired about his swing was it’s majesty.
That’s quite a list of superlatives that probably can’t be matched today by anyone. But THAT is what it takes to achieve greatness in this most challenging of all games.
When Jack was a teenager he sank something like 56(?) basketball free throws IN A ROW! This is pure will power and dedication and focus and trying his heart out. Hand / eye coordination as well. He also remarked about his career that ; “..and I had the most fun of anyone doing it, too.” He ENJOYED the endeavor. He welcomed everything that came his way without fear or trepidation, embracing the moment, the present moment, at all times. He had a healthy ego that would not let him let himself down. He once remarked that he so hated embarrassing himself in front of others that it was one of his biggest motivating factors; NOT to embarrass himself. He never hit a shot, even in practice, with indifference. He viewed his mind as a bank of stored information that he dreaded cluttering with garbage. He gave every shot his all, even the practice shots. He, no doubt, had goals that meant a lot to him to achieve. Being the greatest golfer of all time was certainly his biggest goal, I imagine. The flagship of all his goals that led the way for the others. I know that even I, as a young man, had that exact goal, too, even though it was so distant a goal at the time. All or nothing attitude. Why not? No good reason why not. You only live once, why settle for second best? You can see farther from the highest ground. All these un confessed reasons, I’m sure, motivated the man. Like thinking past the board a karate expert wants to break, the farther ahead you can think, the more effect you will have at the board. That was Jack. He also was remarked saying that as a young man he probably hit more practice shots than anyone in history. He had work ethic. He loved it.
While some may consider his tactical approach a little on the conservative side – he usually allowed for a little error and allowed for a margin in going for pins to avoid big numbers – he was necessarily quite aggressive and bit off as much as he could reasonably chew with every opportunity. He would absolutely go for the island green with a three wood if he felt he could save a stroke that way. So long as it was a reasonable risk,/ reward proposition. Usually, though, he would split the difference between going straight at the pin and choosing a little room for error to one direction or he other and make that his target. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, a golf tournament. He played realistically in that regard.
Jack didn’t flirt with the latest trends or swing theories. Through thick and thin, he stuck with the basic fundamentals Jack Grout taught him and never changed his swing, grip or stance. There was one time in his later career when he consciously “deepened” his back swing, going back more inside than upright to coil a little more at the top but that was it. He basically stayed with what brought him to the dance floor to begin with. Lucky for him Jack Grout gave him such correct fundamentals to begin with. He usually reserved a week of every year to go over the fundamentals with Jack Grout, in fact, to make sure he was not straying, inadvertently. He, perhaps better than anyone else, went back and down on nearly identical paths with his club. There was the automatic shift forward of the whole arc going down, but other than that, his back and forward paths shadowed each other.
He was one of dozens of great golfers but I chose him to display because I witnessed his achievements in the flesh and he was my hero growing up. If there is one thing that sticks out, he had a tendency to use his wrists more than what I consider to be ideal in his putting stroke. But who can argue with success? He was one of the games greatest putters, ever. No one was better suited for making the clutch putt than Jack. Tiger, however, gave him a good run for his money in that department, who can deny? While on the subject of Tiger, he did expand the game introducing bold techniques that he invented, never tried before, and excelled with them. A pioneer in his own right. He, indeed, played what I call “Big golf”, leapfrogging past the pack. Had injuries and controversies not dogged him he would most likely have overtaken Jack. I consider him the best behind Jack, though, It’s very close, I think we can all agree. There is just something in the outright majesty and magnificence of Jack’s swing that may never be outdone.
Gary Player, for example, another great, is a good reference for understanding the importance of saving every stroke you possibly can in a round, trying, generally, accounting for some percentage play strategy, to hole everything from the fairway inward. I’d love to devote a book to ALL the greats who moved the game forward for us all. There are so many I just can’t list them all. I was lucky to have watched the very best.
There is one area of the game that I think I can make a big difference in even for many tour players who struggle with the green game. I’m talking about putting. We all know the player who, but for his putting, just might have been able to climb over Jack’s record. Tiger Woods wan not one of them. His putting was perhaps even better than Jack’s. His scrambling and wedge game was maybe even a little better. Jack’s overall reliability and consistency is what carried him as far as he went, I think. That and a single mindedness about him. A determination. One of the most admirable characteristics he had was equanimity in the midst of tragedy and any bad turn of events. His ability to swallow his emotions and plow straight ahead and show no sign of disappointment was another key to his greatness. A big man, indeed.
Along these lines it occurs to me Rafael Nadal, one of the all time tennis greats, never threw a racket in his life. There must be something to this approach that works. Not that Jack didn’t have a temper. As a young man he did, indeed. It was his father Charlie, however, who schooled him not to ever display it publicly. Take responsibility for everything you do. That’s why golf is so different from other sports. It’s really you against only you. If you triumph in that equation you find yourself holding the trophy, somehow. You look up and see what you have done relative to the rest of the field. Jack never wished bad luck on anyone. He knew better than that.
PUTTING; THE ART OF;
Before delving into the finer points of the swing and going over things I deliberately left out of the first overview, as well as the basics for custom shots, I’d like to tackle the putting game because it is there where one can most lower his score. There is a lot of psychology to it.
First, after setting all body parts square to your starting line, from feet to shoulders, swing the putter head and shaft square. Not outside in or inside out, but perfectly square. Allow for a natural inside to square curve to your putter path, too, the point of contact being when the face is aimed at your starting line. By square I mean the entire mass of the head moving straight back from address away from the target and then immediately swinging inside a little. For years I used to swing outside in and never knew why I was contacting the ball outside the sweet spot. As I approached the ball I was swinging it outside in across the ball and catching it on the outside of the address position. My back swing extended too far straight back trying to draw a line to the target. In reality I was swinging outside of square all that time. Once I visualized the mass of my putter moving exactly straight back but only for a few inches before swinging inside a little I found my contact was on the sweet spot again and the line almost took care of itself. Practicing with a ball almost against a wall will help you do this. The only time your putter is allowed to touch the wall is at impact and otherwise it swings inside of the wall on both sides of the ball. This drill applies to the full swing as well. It is important to mentally attach the putter, both head, grip and shaft, with the weight of your arms and shoulders and lock the entire apparatus together as one piece and swing it from the center of the top of your spine like an imaginary knife or pie spatula cutting butter as if the putter head was a pointed end of a slice of pie and the shoulders like a pie crust, hinging only from it’s center at the top of your spine. Remember to also allow for a slightly inside to square swinging path while imagining this knifing action through impact. Always accelerate a little through impact and pay attention to your post impact positions with the putter stroke and not just your back swing positions.
One of my best illustrations is to learn how to “Be the ball.” Imagine a child who has missed the school bus and is left with having to make it to the school all by himself. Now it becomes more complicated than just sitting in a seat and waiting mindlessly for the time of arrival. Now he has to THINK, understand the lay of the land, the distance involved, the obstacles and what direction to start out on. Pretend the ball is that child having to navigate it’s way into the hole all by ITSELF, now. What MUST it do to get in the hole from where it’s standing? How much does it weigh, how much friction does the turf impose, how damp or dry, the direction of the grain, the slope, even the wind and the temperature, various bumps along the way? Now the ball has to access all these factors, first, as if it must get into the hole all by itself without your help. As if it had a little motor inside that propelled it forward. If done properly you actually seem to see the ball start to oscillate a little towards the hole even before you strike it, you are so fixated on what the ball must do. Like practice putting where you are fresh with the line the last putt you just hit traveled on, you “SEE” the line it must make to get into the hole. You see the curve and the speed, EVERYTHING, before you do anything else. By the time you hit the ball it seems all you have to do is touch it. If you weren’t even there, what would the ball have to do, all by itself, to fall into the hole?
There is another trick to sinking more puts. Appreciate the perfect spherical shape of the ball in contrast to the level surface it must travel over. BECAUSE it is a perfect sphere it will go EXACTLY as you hit it. 360 degrees of non prejudiced reaction to whatever you do in touching it. It doesn’t discriminate, it reacts exactly to whatever you do to it. Too many golfers look at the ball as if it were a circle on the ground not appreciating it’s three dimensional qualities. In this respect it is like handling nitro glycerin. It’s a sphere and more sensitive than you might think. It has to travel over a flat surface that may or may not have irregularities that might affect it as well. It wants you to give it the respect it deserves. It’s a three dimensional object and not a two dimensional circle in front of you. It is prone to roll, wobble and all the rest. Especially on short putts take this into consideration. You are about to roll a perfect SPHERE over a flat surface.
Another tip that I find helpful is to also imagine there is an imaginary tire encircling the ball. Like a bicycle tire that you are going to roll towards the hole just as if it were a tire. You line up the tire and send it on it’s way. The imaginary tire is wrapped around the vertical dimension of the ball facing the intended starting line.
Yet, another tip is to pretend the ball is fitted with pixels that project outwards opposite the strike you give it. Like the flat, rectangle gadget you use to stick your hand into and watch it burst out the other side, the hundreds of tiny steel pixels duplicating your hand as they are pushed out. Every putt has an exact amount of force and direction inherent in it’s need. What would that strike look like if imaginary pixels projected out the other side of the ball? What direction and how far out from the ball would they be? Like imparting the magic, exact “touch” to the ball, everything it does is stored in this moment of truth, the moment of impact. All the ingredients and information it needs for success are stored in this moment of impact. Give the ball the exact, correct recipe.
One of the best tips is to imagine the exact blade of grass along the holes rim you want the ball to roll across as it falls inside. Do NOT just aim at the entire hole .You sharpen your accuracy by aiming at a spot on the holes rim, instead. If the putt breaks left you may want to enter on the, say, 5 O’clock position on the dial versus the 6 O’clock position for a straight put. Some putts actually enter on the 2 O’clock position or even the 12 O’clock position. Plan on dying the ball across THAT spot and not just the entire hole. It narrows down the parameters you are working with. Whatever that ideal entry point is is the center of the hole, be it 6 O’clock or three O’clock. Always go ONLY for the center of the hole, every time. “Nothing but net” – a basketball shot that is so accurate it never touches the rim – or nothing at all. You’ll make more putts that way.
You ideally want to hit a putt to finish a foot past the hole, only, should you actually miss. Any less than that and the “Wobble effect” can cause things to go wrong. You want a consistent roll but you don’t want a three or four footer coming back.
On extremely long putts of, say, 100 feet, you might want to approach it like a chip shot and not a putt at all.
On all putts you HAVE to start the ball on the correct line, right away. This is almost always one direction right or left of the hole’s location and with a large range of variance. Some putts must start on a line maybe ten feet away from where the hole is depending on the break, speed, slope and distance. Rarely is a putt started out on exactly the target line. Unless it is a straight putt. Most putts break one direction or another and the starting line is what you must pay attention to.
You want to imagine the ball starting to roll, top over bottom, right away. There is the exception when you hit up on the ball to get it air born on bumpy greens but, otherwise, see it start to roll, versus skid, immediately. This is a matter of mind over matter and you must will this to happen, almost. You can do it.
So far, technique hasn’t even been addressed, just mental approach or psychology. There are fundamental technique factors one should adhere to, however.
Grip tension. Unlike the full swing it’s O.K. to use a light grip pressure if you choose. There is also nothing wrong with a firm pressure if that is what you like. They are both correct. There is something beneficial to both methods. The firm grip can be more reliable and accurate. The light grip can better gauge distance, for example. They are both correct. Experiment, I say.
Ball position should be, I think, just left of center so that the point of contact (The back of the ball) is exactly between the feet. It can also be a little left of that position more representative of how your full swing set ups look like. Depending on the green you may be better off hitting up on the ball, (Bumpy greens) getting it slightly air born, first, some greens you want to hit level or even slightly down on. The point of contact makes a difference. If you hit on the upswing the point of contact is below the balls equator and you will get less over spin relying, instead, on the ball grabbing the green as it falls to earth to give it over spin after it grabs the green’s surface. If you contact the ball above its equator with a downward blow you get immediate over spin that way. The ball hugs the ground better this way and is recommended on true, fast greens. Either way over spin occurs, either right away or after the ball lands.
One’s hands should be even with the ball, generally. One’s head should be directly over the ball or ever so slightly just a little behind the ball but still over the ball line. If your head is not over the ball line you get a distorted, false read of the putt. To check this drop a ball from where your eyes are to make sure.
One’s stroke should never be longer going back than going forward. You want acceleration on impact, not deceleration. It’s O.K. to be equal distances on both side of the ball but err on the side of being longer past the ball to ensure acceleration. You don’t want to introduce hesitancy, tentativeness or a lack of commitment to your stroke. Commit to the collision of club against ball required to get into the hole and forge straight ahead and HIT it.
The path of the club is a slight arc, not a straight line. If you force the path into a straight line you must deviate from a natural swinging motion. It can be done and some recommend this but I prefer to swing naturally and allow for a little opening and closing of the blade and a little inside out to square to inside again path just like any other golf swing. You wouldn’t hit a chip shot with a straight line path and a putt should be no different. You can think of an overall straight line to travel on a foot on both sides of the ball but know that the actual path is a slight arc.
The most fundamental aspect of technique is the aligning of all you body parts parallel to the initial target line, especially the feet and shoulders. The next most important part of technique is that you swing or hinge from the neck and not the wrists. That is, imagine a pie slice, your shoulders being the crust and the club head being the pie point. Imagine a pin in the middle of the pie crust that your whole action hinges on somewhere below your neck. Now swing the whole pie slice from that hinge, the wrists not moving much at all. Make sure your shoulders (Crust) swings in alignment with the target starting line. No wobbling or looping action but a crisp target ward motion back and forward. As if both arms represented a knife aimed to the target line that slices cleanly as if cutting through butter. While some wrist hinge is allowable, especially on longer putts for more power, try to minimize it, especially after impact. How you swing the entire apparatus of shoulders, arms and club is crucial. It should all swing as one piece as much as possible and parallel to the staring target line.
Not everyone has the same success with the same kind of stroke technique depending on personality and other factors. Some like to jab the putt, some like to stroke it and you, ultimately, will find what works best for you. However, if you use the following method you will properly “release” the putter through the ball and help ensure a solid stroke.
Pretend the shaft is a string or rope that must be swung, just so, to fluidly transport the head through with minimum disruption. This requires that the takeaway is velvety smooth and that the transition to forward swing is also velvety smooth. Otherwise there would be a jarring effect on the imaginary rope of a shaft. As if the shaft were a rope, swing the putter head such that it plows through impact without twisting or halting or doing anything but going through impact unimpeded, propelled by it’s own weight, mass and momentum. You will find that the head actually passes the hands after impact, just like a swinging a rope with a weighted object would do. This is what top pros call releasing the putter through the ball. It’s different than a method that finds the wrists locked like a wall after impact. Different than a jab style stroke. You still swing the whole apparatus of shoulders, arms, hands and club in unison, you just pay closer attention to the shaft so that the above is accomplished. You may practice with a rope and a weight on the end to get the feel for swinging it this way. Minimize disruption, keep wrist activity to a minimum but let the club head swing a little on both sides of the ball like a swinging pendulum. Keep the shoulders active all the while.
Avoid either an inside, out or outside, in stroke. Make sure the overall arc you make is square to the target line. Avoid any loops in the stroke, back and forth on the same path.
I like to have my elbows just grazing my body parts at address so that they are consistently aligned with every putt. Just touching at address and just clearing in the actual stroke. This way you set up the same exact way every time. As for the rest of my posture, I like a little knee flex and a little bend at the waist maintaining a straight back. I prefer a narrow versus wide stance, not more than several inches between insteps.
Regarding grip there are so many ways I can only recommend what I use; a ten finger grip. I practice putting so often it is the only grip that allows me to avoid injury or pain. I sometimes use a double overlap grip with both small fingers of my right hand riding on top of the first two fingers of my left hand but I usually find the ten finger grip is just fine. The former instills a calming, assurance and steadies the nerves. Holding one’s own hands this way has this effect. Either way, I like to make sure that both palms face each other and form a wall that aims itself to the initial target line, just alike a regular grip. I vary between having both thumbs on top of the center of the grip and having them straddle both opposite sides of the grip. The latter is like holding a babies arm for the first time, very intimate. It takes some getting used to. The thumbs on top style seems to firm up and dial in the stroke a little better. Beyond that who can argue with the most common grip; the reverse overlap grip with the first finger of the left hand riding on top of the right hand’s pinky? Putting is less demanding than the full swing regarding grip. There is more room for experimentation.
The biggest reason pro’s miss putts is upper body movement. Until the ball is on it’s way keep your head and upper body as still as possible. Still, you must activate the shoulders, even on a one foot putt. If you don’t rock the shoulders with all your putts you are steering the putt with your hands and arms. A no, no. Just swing the whole pie piece, from shoulders to club head, like a knife cutting butter through to the starting target line, locked together in one piece. This is the last thing I think of, especially on a long putt, moving the whole apparatus together as one. You hinge from between the shoulders and not so much the hands.
Avoid being too “wooden” is the only other thing I’d caution you to do. You’ve got to have a little naturalness to the whole thing. Let the hands do what they feel the need to do if it works for you.
(To be continued….)
RESUME / COVER LETTER
Carmel, Ca. 93921 Ph. 831-901-9707
I have 20, plus, years in restaurant work, mostly as a cook but also high end waiting and even some pizza management history. I also did telemarketing for solar companies most recently. As a very young, athletic and healthy 67 year old living currently on social security I am an odd fit for some establishments as I have not worked at all since 2017. Many of the establishments I cooked at, for example, are no longer and I will just have to list them by name. The good news is many of them are from the Monterey area to begin with and I am willing to work without obligation so you can access my skills, first. I still have my knife kit and skills. I describe myself as quality oriented, artistic, even, spot on w. temperatures, more along the broiler vs. saute end but can do both. Not so versed in chef work but can follow recipes, very reliable and hard working and punctual. I was trying to be a pro golfer when I cooked in the area at the time. Cooking was a good fit for me and I still love to cook.
Regarding waiting I waited at a country club (1998) and even bussed tables at the Pebble Beach Tap Room (1978-1979) and The Sardine Factory (1981) I was also a steward (purchaser) for a country club in N. Carolina.(1977)
As a telemarketer I was a star performer at Clean Energy of America, Woodland Hills, Ca.,(2013-2016), at one point their best marketer.
For over two years I managed Strokes Golf of San Jose (1999-2001) achieving local recognition from the media and increasing sales by 30 %.
As I said, most of all these outfits are no longer and that’s why I am willing to start out on a trial basis to show my skills. I have two reliable vehicles, no criminal history and am drug and alcohol free.
I moved back to the area in 2016 and worked briefly as a telemarketer for a very short time before retiring. Now I need to supplement my income as my once ample savings are less so, now, and I need an extra income. My pay rate needs are modest to competitive. My hourly needs are part time, if you prefer. I can work full time but prefer part time.
Looking forward to working again and hope you can use my skills.
Some of my cooking employment history;
Cooking; The General Store, Carmel (Line cook)1978-1979….The Carmel Kitchen, (Line cook) 1979- 1980….Jack London’s Bar and Grill, Carmel,(Dinner solo line cook) 1980….The Doubletree Inn@ (Peter B’s) (Broiler cook; evenings)1980-1981….Big Joes BBQ, Monterey, (Solo line cook, evenings)1994-1995(?)…. New Joe’s Italian Restaurant, San Francisco, (Broiler cook, evenings / weekend breakfast) 1984.
There is a longer list but the above are the local establishments I cut my teeth on decades ago. I’m confident I can do the job and can serve your needs.
Looking forward to hearing from you – Steve Lightfoot
(What is below is private, please. An old flame I ran into last year. Please refrain from reading this, readers. Steve )
August 9, 2021′
I will try to remember the good things I saw in you Feb. 2, 2021. You seemed pretty collected and together and friendly. I just wish I had been less defensive about seeing you again. Know that I am deeply sorry for slapping you and deserting you and saying I feel sorry for you. I was wrong in many ways and I accept all that. The aftermath has deeply matured me, however. Thank you for that.
Love, always, Steve
August 20, 2021;
Almost out of things to say. There is one other thing I meant to include, however. Up to the point of slapping you, I was nothing but good by you and even leaving you in the parking lot the week before was justified given your rudeness. Even telling you “I feel sorry for you.” was justified if it would screw your head on straight. All in the game of love. There was still hope for us, even then. You had the chance to make a life with me yet you couldn’t resist being mean and surly to me after I came all the way to Macon to retrieve you.
I stumbled onto your “20 year old” photo yesterday and, wow, you were a stunning beauty. That one night with you I will always treasure regardless of your being in another zip code for all I knew. With all your problems you were a beautiful experience.
P.S. By removing, also, the latest image find of you from Alabama I now know THAT was you because it is now pulled down. So, THAT’S what you look like, lately. Still very cute. I have one copy.
I am starting to notice another, a certain news anchor who I really appreciate. She’s married and a long shot for anyone, much less me in my van, but I miss loving somebody and I must move on. Something about her, too, I find special.
NEW LOVE INTEREST!!!!!!!!!!! 2021;
N-O-T about Linda; About you, Mrs. newscaster. – June, 2022;
To be continued….)
June 18, 2022;
If it was anything I may have said…(deletions are routine…)
June 20, 2022;
Today I face off six officers…..(Latest deletion)
On a more positive note, you sure are cute and amazing.
Keep up the good work.
July 5, 2022;
Hi, there. In order to not have to delete so much personal content I’ll keep it business, for now, letting you simply know you’re the bomb as far as I’m concerned. It’s nice to have someone to look towards and stay human, regardless. Since you happen to be married this business only tone down is a good thing, anyway.
I woke up the other morning and thought I was still asleep and dreaming that your network had been taken over by our enemies.: “Donald Trump bad man. Cassidy Hutchinson and Ms. Cheyney, good. Heroes protecting you from evil Trump monster. Brave and honorable. Trust them to be on your side….” and so much authoritarian drivel. It really took me a few seconds to understand it was happening in real time here in America. Media knows best journalism. Wow! I knew that the same network peddled King and his “Under the Dome” series (Suspiciously like Israel’s ‘Dome’ defense system.) The one that featured Monarch butterflies to rub it in to all of us unsuspecting victims that King considers himself a ‘Monarch’ or one who replaces the one he assassinates, lording over society. I know that you work there but believe you are above all that un-American meddling. Not so much trying to twist your arm and bring you around as I am trying to keep you from getting tainted any more by the media treachery I know all too well about. As mentioned already you’re loaded, anyway, and don’t have to. You, in fact, are positioned perfectly to become the female Murrow of our day in refusing the propaganda train when it toots it’s orders. Imagine; an award named after you for putting your foot down where the rubber meets the road. A heroic gesture. Remember, when I get the elbow room I deserve I’ll back you up so you emerge on top. Way on top. It’s a tall order but I can’t see you letting all that slide.
On to other matters. My latest sign slogans are “SILENT U.S. BRAINWASHED PSYCHOTIC” and “IGNORING ME IS SCREWING ALL OF YOU” Nothing like penetrating truth to wake one up. I was inspired by a local radio station owner who thinks I’m not on to his methods of trying to brand me as a certifiably insane. (Then, it’s possible he’s only pretending to diss me and might be on my side, after all.) So what if even 20 % of everybody thinks that. What about the other 80% who KNOW I’ve been right from day one? What a cheap, cowardly, un heterosexual thing to try to do to the evidence hero. I say that because you have to appreciate children and producing and caring for them to give a proper argument in the first place. Some people don’t. It’s always the same technique, too; “Steve is a very intelligent man and cares greatly for what he believes, but….” The old soft peddle, velvet touch, low key approach that suggests automatic veracity when there is none. Media wise technique.
I’ve said it long ago that the mass shooting phenomena is a result of the kids seeing their parents ignoring exactly what I do and are pissed off at their phoniness to the point they kill their kids for not deserving them, to begin with, as they exit, themselves. It won’t get better, only worse, I’m certain, until the parents wake up and jail their children’s mind molester / murderer of their parent’s hero; Stephen King. Till then the kids see America being lost because of their parent’s phoniness and boot-licking ways. Can you imagine what it must be like to know the treachery afoot and it’s monstrosity and craziness and scope and to watch your fellow man in Zombie mode in never pay attention land as he slides down the hill into possibly tyranny? To see religion wiped away as a hollow thing it must be to stay silent, itself. To see man’s victimhood, cursed by his own feebleness?
I’m not in the “Beltway” or New York and see it for what it is.
Too bad Paul McCowardly has turned out to be such a douche. He is THE one to exactly speak up and help me come forward but his are feet of clay and mediocrity in the clutch. When I get my celebrity spot I’ll milk it for all the change and revolution I can muster. Beware evil foreign agent; Yoko Ono who almost had me killed in 1987 when her goons kidnapped me and beat me unconscious while in handcuffs. She set John up. It’s a fact. Cruel, stupid world. Unsuspecting John. Played like a Kama Sutra fiddle by America’s enemies. Yoko is still playing us all and rubbing it in that my expose is “Bigger than humanity.” That we are helpless to fight it. Like Kissinger insinuating once to me, in person, after I confronted him while on stage, that my expose will never break in my lifetime.
That’s all for today, pretty woman. Beware the tentacles all around you at work and steer clear of the evil. It’s important for all mankind. You ARE a very powerful person who really CAN make a difference. It’s actually a blast. I’ve made a difference.
Final footnote; Biden WANTS Russia to take the two to seven O’clock rim of Ukraine (For agriculture, I think.) or he wouldn’t be telegraphing that; “It will end in a settlement..” months ago, as if he KNOWS the end game and that he is part OF it. That and milking out a pittance of what Ukraine really needs to fight back. A world order sellout artist who might only be PRETENDING to steel us for freedom and upholding our democracy with his latest speech, July 4.. More about giving us a false sense of security and getting our pants around our knees, I think. I saw what is happening last week awaking to the agenda, authoritarian style journalism on yours and other networks. That is beneath you. Let not China take over our media. Or Russia, or Israel. Please abstain from the visible trends appearing all over our mass media. The jig is up, now, we all know. Time to take sides and counter all that.
I only regret that all this has the appearance of my manipulating you for selfish reasons. Not so. For unselfish reasons, too. For all our sake, you included.
Think about it. Meanwhile do keep working and shining. I’m only expecting nudging progress, ever.
July 6, 2022;
Pheww!!! It’s muggy and hot even in Monterey, lately. This is a good space for me to vent, to you, instead of the main crowd, so I can keep my other page effective and as is, as it is working, so far as sales goes, for my magazine. Four in one week!
I came across an old 1987 photo of me from the S.F.P.D. files (I think it was mug shots for a charge of displaying signs on a sidewalk that day.) The charge was dismissed but it may be the most flattering photo of me, ever. 33 years old and not a grey hair or wrinkle and, to my surprise, pretty dog gone handsome. A legitimate 9 out of 10, if I do say so, myself. Exactly a month later I would have my right shoulder dislocated and my face (nose) broken on a sidewalk by two martial artists. Months after that I would be kidnapped, handcuffed and pistol whipped unconscious in the back of a police van. I had just had my nose put back in place and one of the officer said, that night, “I’m going to break your nose…” as if he knew it was just fixed. That didn’t happen but I had to convince doctors I was set up and I was mentally just fine. They agreed and I was released after a two day hold in a hospital. Yoko Ono’s way of letting me know that she is involved with John’s murder and to back off. Turns out that Dianne Feinstein was behind some of that as her secretary told me, a year earlier, to ; “…take your story to another town…” I had a good laugh, later, after she was humiliated after repaving the Golden Gate Bridge with concrete only to have to immediately tear it all out and asphalt it because the concrete was way too heavy. I had my publicity moments, too, after, with her. Frank Jordan, her henchman police chief was rigged into the mayor’s office for two terms, after, they were so proud of how he kept my story at bay. America really is a sick country in that regard.
Anyway, this photo of me in my prime really got to me today as I am feeling angry that I have already martyred my youth and beauty and, still, this place (Earth) is a moron about the evidence and living under truth. Meanwhile, I now look like another person, hardly recognizable from the man of 1987. If anything it has spurred me to make it THIS year that my story breaks. I will work my ass off to get these people in Monterey to actually stand with me and get this news out, once and for all. Today I erected the sign; ‘SILENT U.S. BRAINWASHED PSYCHOTIC’ on the rear panel of my van. When I sing I display the one; ‘CHAPMAN LIE IS CHILD ABUSE’ simultaneously in my front window. My singing lets them know I must not be all that crazy to pull off what I do.
Sounding pretty boastful, I admit. And, yet, I’m actually very humble. That police file photo of me is but one of less than ten photos taken of me for a 20, maybe 30, year period from those days.
Lately it seems as if the whole planet is dealing with disfunction and everyone seems like a moron, lately. Is it my impatience? Is it just a fact, maybe, that America is going through a stage right now of weirdness? It certainly is off it’s rocker like I’ve never seen. No wonder all the mass shootings.
I don’t know what the future has in mind but I can see me humbling America if it doesn’t help me, soon. If I were to move to New Zealand or elsewhere, after, and told America to save it’s sorry self I wouldn’t be surprised. On the other hand, I might exalt it if it helps me, soon. I can be unabashedly scornful if the situation warrants it. It needs a hero like me but I won’t twist it’s arm. I’ll just behave in accordance to my instincts. I could REALLY give us all a big black eye, someday, even if my story breaks soon. It has certainly proved to me that a great nation can also be a satanic, very sick and masochistic nation under certain circumstances. Right now it is. No one can deny.
On a fantastic note, however, my supporters are, for the first time, ever, in such numbers, giving me the thumbs up and waves and hello’s, so, who knows where it’s going. It’s a tone of work to get that much. I’ll have to regard them as apart from the bitter, jealous, fearful, cowardly type.
I’m going to release a flyer with that police file mug shot and juxtapose it with a current photo of me and make my flyer look like a wanted poster.; “…wanted for releasing sensitive, explosive evidence against the U.S. government and foiling the plot to take over America and fold it into a new world order. Wanted for daring to oppose the mass brainwash campaign that has crippled America. Wanted for daring to save the raped masses from the crime of assassination and media mind control…. etc…”
I’ll round out the flyer with a message that rubs in the fact that they could have had an attractive hero had they acted before, back in the late 80’s, like they all should have, instead of martyring my youth out of their own sense of self hatred and shame and jealousy. Meanwhile I have to rest a bit as I have to re instigate several subpoenas in my now year old traffic matter.
Excuse me while I sleep and rest a little from all this sign making, singing and such.
I watch you every chance I get and it makes my day, I want you to know. In Monterey you own the 5:30 to 6:00 time slot as far as I’m concerned. A positive thing to look forward to. You.
(P.S. Get load of what happened the day after this post a page or two from the top of my main editorial page. Also, my latest bill board is; “SATANIC U.S. PROTECTING STEPHEN KING” A good B side might read; ‘NO WONDER ALL THE MASS SHOOTINGS” My important sign on the back of my is now; “SILENT U.S. BRAINWASHED PSYCHOTIC”.)
P.P.S.; Another loud noise ticket today, 7-9-’22, only this time it is a misdemeanor disturbing the peace citation. The advantage to this hassle I’m going through is that, yes, it’s weighty and dull and looming on the one hand, on the other hand, because I am being pursued, I am on full alert and my senses are more alive including my delivery technique when I sing. Slightly more troubled but significantly more alive. See details just below my last reference, a page or two or three from the top of my main editorial page up. I’ll just have to get dozens of tickets, I guess for them to leave my free speech rights alone.)
Aug. 9, 2022’
Anniversary of my father’s plane crash. Hi, girl. How have you been while off the airwaves? It’s been over a week so I suppose you are on vacation. I noticed a curious fact the other day; The promo footage of you standing close to an airplanes open cargo door. Just that montage for a few seconds and nothing more. Don’t let the execs there try to push you out of your ace job. You ARE the best there is, period! No one is better at what you do than you. Keep up the good work. You’re amazing!
I see all kinds of hidden meanings in everything and that montage was alarming. The world is evil and we good eggs get a raw rub, often. Regardless, you’re in no need of any boss, ever. You’re a success and financially independent. I haven’t worked since 2017 and I understand how unnecessary it all is, anyway. Life’s too short to NOT enjoy unfettered life.
Just missing you. I notice the same things as if we have already met in person happening and I DO miss seeing you on T.V., lately.
MOTION TO RECUSE – DISQUALIFY – JUDGE MOTION TO TRANSFER MATTER TO COUNTY SEAT
800 Scott St.
Sand City, Ca. 93955 Superior Court Of California
County Of Monterey
August 01, 2022
Please take notice that I am the defendant in this matter representing myself and I move to recuse Judge Mendoza from my case and to move the matter to Salinas with another judge as was allowed in another similar matter regarding this same judge and motion. In that case Judge O’Keefe was my replacement judge and, while not completely satisfactory, I found her to at least not be biased as I found Judge Mendoza to be. In my first motion to recuse Judge Mendoza in another matter a few years prior I pointed out her glaring bias regarding a small claims matter she ruled against me in. I pointed out that she overlooked the fact that the defendant never denied my claims of sabotage on my other van, claims of cutting my wire harness and draining my transmission of what was fresh fluid, then, breaking my shift guide assembly and other terrible things that he did to my van until after I pointed out this fact in my closing argument. I claimed this shop deliberately sabotaged my van having to do with an associate of theirs who has a motive to harm me over a past matter where I turned his pot dealing ways over to authorities to get him to clean his act up. I also pointed out Judge Mendoza’s attempt to insert herself in that years old matter after she was already recused by me, further showing her bias and agenda regarding me. I pointed out then that my lennonmurdertruth.com website and van are a reason the authorities have hounded me for decades as I am actively exposing our government in the matter of John Lennon’s murder in 1980. I pointed out that that shop serviced police vehicles and that that may have factored into their acts of sabotage. I subsequently advertised this shop’s conduct with a huge sign I displayed in public before trial that read; ‘STEER CLEAR AND BEWARE: JACK FOX AUTO REPAIR” I was so sure of their misconduct. The owner took a photo of me displaying it, in fact.
That Judge Mendoza ruled against me in that small claims matter was a glaring case of bias and discrimination having to do, I think, with my exposing of our government in Lennon’s murder. She DID recuse herself in my subsequent traffic matter then. The fact that I have already disqualified her presents the possibility she may now harbor resentment towards me for doing so and she should not be allowed to preside over my current matter. She told me to wait for the pro tem judge if I wanted her replaced. She was on vacation and I did attend court only to find that he wrongfully recused my five subpoena’d officers regarding my two motions under the mistaken notion they were called for my trial, instead. Now, I have been forced to re schedule those hearings and re subpoena these officers for my motions that I think will preclude any trial I feel I should not be subjected to the jeopardy of to begin with. This mistake on the court’s part may be responsible for my case being stretched out beyond the year statute and may be illegal now.
When her name came up and I did not object in this matter, initially, it was because I was under the impression that it was a Judge Maldonado, not Mendoza, who heard that small claims matter and who was the subject of a former recusal by me. In fact, I have been so besieged with unwarranted police activity since I got my newer website van in 2018 that a Judge Maldonado came up along the way who I mistook for Mendoza. I was confused. Otherwise I would have recused her immediately when this matter commenced. There is still ample reason to have my recusal request granted. She cannot be expected to be fair with me now that I have openly challenged her and had her recused already. Salinas offers an alternative that I would like granted with another judge. As I am subpoenaing officers for my two motions before trial on August 1, 2022 I would appreciate a prompt response to this motion so I can appropriately direct those subpoenas.
There is no way Judge Mendoza should not be allowed to preside over any case concerning me now or in the future. Not only has she showed bias in the small claims matter but also in two other matters including this one, as well. Her attempts in the past to insert herself in another traffic matter after being recused speaks to her motive or agenda, even, to convict me.
I am asking for a transfer to Salinas and with another judge.
Please take notice that I am the defendant in this matter representing myself and I move the court to relocate the matter to Salinas where I can have a judge other than Judge Mendoza hear my motions and case. As the matter is currently scheduled in the Marina court and I did not stipulate to the pro tem judge last month and was told by him that Judge Mendoza will hear my case I am obliged to make this request as I am not aware another Judge there is available.
In a previous matter this very request was granted when I recused her in that matter. I was heard by Judge O’Keefe who I feel, in spite of her other issues, does not have an agenda or motive to find me guilty as I feel is the case with Judge Mendoza who has already displayed bias as explained in my other motion to recuse and disqualify.
I declare, under penalty of perjury, that the above is true and correct.
Dated June 29, 2022
July 16, 2021;
I think I’ve found your image, again. It sure looks like the woman who once told me; “Hey! We’re the same age…” Maybe you ARE married. That would be a relief in the sense of why you are giving me the silent treatment. You look a little bruised, emotionally, but I like what I see. To whatever extent I may have been responsible for any bruising I apologize. Overall you look like you’re reasonably happy and have found a life for yourself. Good for you.
Back to your image I just found; I could just pinch your cheeks you’re so cute, still. Good to see you/
June 29, 2021 addendum
In Dallas, on April, 21, one of your relatives observed me from across the street. He was parked with his (I think) charcoal colored Infinity (?) sedan or coup and I merely had a strong feeling he was related to you based on his demeanor and my uncanny detective skills. A recent positive facial I.D. confirms it. (Gary, maybe?) So, any pretense that it was not you in Dallas months earlier will not fly, ever, with me. He could only have known to be there then based on my correspondences here that you were obviously following. He is about 50+, 5’8″, 160 lbs, grey’ish hair, and possibly a trimmed mustache or goatee. Perhaps your brother or such. He had a concerned look on his face seeing me in my van singing across the street from The Alamo Club where he was parked directly in front of. I thought I saw a gathering of your younger aged relatives in February as I was waiting for you to return, then. They seemed less serious and, indeed, happy to see me.
(As for you readers, the following is a highly edited out version of my attempts to mend fences with an old flame of mine I haven’t seen in 43 years. I’m pretty sure she has already read the heart felt personal parts and I have removed those paragraphs out of consideration for us both. Only because there is some lesson to be learned from you in what remains up is it there at all. If the following is a little out of joint or confusing it’s because it was EDITED. Otherwise, if you prefer golf technique stuff, then just scroll down some until that chapter pops up. Thank you. )
In 1978 I moved to Carmel, Ca. to study under Ben Doyle, a renowned instructor, and resumed my career. I dated but it was always you that I was thinking about. The beautiful area was just the tonic my bruised soul needed and, just as I had climbed back into my life, while cooking steak and lobster at the Doubletree Hotel in Monterey, I learned that John Lennon had just been assassinated. I knew, instantly, that it was a cover-up story we were being told and even rejected my peers who were too dense to suspect the truth. That murder destroyed me, spiritually, all over again. I sold my car, stored my possessions and took off to San Diego to be a beach bum for a while and just sing Beatle’s songs on my Walkman. That’s all I did for over a year; ride my bike 30 miles a day singing along to my tapes. You were the subject of all those lyrics, too. At one point I had to ask myself what had come over me? What was this all leading to? I was a man possessed.
Then, one evening, I dreamed a beautiful reunion dream about us, Linda. It found me bolt awake upright in my bed (I was in a camper being stored at a yacht club.) like the lyrics in Bob Seger’s song; “I woke last night to the sound of thunder. How far off I sat and wondered. Started humming a song from 1962. Ain’t it funny how the night moves.?….”The dream found you and me meeting on top of a fence from my childhood neighborhood and reconciling completely. There we stood, facing each other holding both each other’s hands. It was such a beautiful dream I awoke in a sweat. I knew the government killed Lennon. I was even sporting a fake license plate on my bike I had made up on the boardwalk that week that read; ” U.S. GOVT. PLANNED LENNON’S DEATH” I thought to myself; “… What would “she” do? She was never shy about living life to it’s fullest. Surely she would look into the matter and bust that cult like she was doing in Georgia when I knew her. She wouldn’t just sit down and take it. I should be ashamed of myself I’m not looking for the answers I need.” The following DAY I found myself riding on my bike and turning at one intersection and then another wondering why I was taking this route, suddenly, and then I saw the library and knew what was about to happen. I screeched my breaks, locked my bike and bolted in to find a year and a half old copy of US magazine on the first table with John and Yoko on the cover and I grabbed it as I went back to examine all the other magazines I was looking for to find out what happened to Chapman who never stood trial in the first place. I picked up all the Dec. 15, 1980 issues of Time and Newsweek and others I could find to re read the murder story. There was no murder story I would learn as that issue came out a week earlier the day of the murder. As I was searching for the story and not finding it I noticed that all the headlines were talking to me like government codes all about Lennon’s murder. This was July 26, 1982, a year and a half after the murder, and when I saw the ominous headline above just elected Reagan that read; “Who’s In?” “Who’s Out?” it occurred to me; “Reagan’s In, Lennon’s Out” might be the intended message. Look into my site for the rest, but THAT was THE moment I found the government codes that would ultimately, months later, lead to my finding Mark David Chapman and his letter linking Reagan and Stephen King’s matching face and what King writes about to seal the case. All because of you and your crusade against a Satan’s cult in Macon then and that dream about you the day before. WE did it, Linda, both of us.
Now YOU have the nerve to ask me; “Why does it matter to you?” TWICE!! that night in Dallas.
When I knew you you were either perfect or way off kilter. The perfectness of you showed me what kind of people all of humanity could be if it were better, if it weren’t such a depraved and unthinking slob. You showed me something about humanity that I had never witnessed before; perfection as a person. The kind of person that would make this planet so much more magical a place to live in than it is if we were all like that. You gave me so much hope for mankind and in such a contrast to others I’ve known. It’s true falling in love with someone from the opposite side of the country with foreign ways and weather and everything is more attractive. Opposites attract. People in California are NOT as nice as those in Texas or Georgia and you appealed to me for being so great. You had so much personality. The splitting of your soul into great and not so great is maybe why you could project that perfection at all compared to others. I have seen the mountaintop and you were it. Hard to pull off for the normal and balanced, apparently. But I saw something in you I will cherish forever. You showed me the potential for us all. More than that, it seemed like we knew each other in a previous life we were so attuned in many ways. I wondered after, often; “Was she the one God intended for me, after all?” I, myself, have rare taste and am hard to please. You really presented what I always hoped life had to offer me in a mate but didn’t believe existed until I met you. That you looked even better than Miley Cyrus or anyone I have ever personally known was as if God loved me more than I thought he did. Finding you land in my lap was very flattering. Was all this suffering I have endured since slapping you just? In light of my blindness, then? I have to wonder.
I was a pretty great catch before we met, if I do say so myself. I was a brilliant student, artist, decent golfer, with a great future ahead of me even if golf didn’t pan out. I was either going to design golf courses or be an advertising copywriter probably. I was decent looking and popular in school, especially so in grade school, and everything was coming up roses in so many ways. So why did I fall down and wind up living in a van for four decades on a fools errand of saving the world? Why did I risk my life and put myself in such danger to begin with? Why did I punish myself with such a life? Maybe I felt I deserved it after what I did to you. Maybe I wanted to impress you with how I was able to bust the biggest Satan’s cult on the planet to win you back. Maybe so many reasons. If I couldn’t have you I was probably not afraid of dying, I guess.
(Big content delete)
Larry King just died of a medical complication. He interviewed Chapman in 1992 to mute my 1992 visit to Bangor, Maine. When I confronted him over it on San Francisco radio a few years after he admitted; “Don’t worry Ron, (The host who apologized about my call.) it’s all going to come out eventually, anyway…” about my expose’ He ACKNOWLEDGED I was right, that he KNEW that interview was a media scam, then. For that, alone, I left him alone ever after. That’s character. As for Barbara Wa Wa, who interviewed Chapman a week after I gave her people my magazine, I silenced her several years ago when she tried to make a comeback. She was visibly shaken from my radio spots condemning her. I wish the public understood how treacherous she was to us all to peddle that brainwash and mind control. Our enemy.
Anyway, Linda, that’s all for now. I’m off to Boca Grande to hit up the Bush compound area and the locals there. Then onto Sarasota for a few weeks and letters to officials to effect an arrest. Then on to N.Y.C. for a few weeks and then back to Dallas. ( I learned only the Governor here MAY have any jurisdiction. Otherwise it’s the Manhattan D.A. who has been avoiding me.)
INSERT / UPDATE – March 6, 2021;
I think I may have actually seen Stephen King yesterday while I had to back out of his private entrance. A black car that dove into a driveway to let me out looked like HIM, by God. I have the most amazing luck in that regard. You know, I actually stood inches away from him in 1992 in downtown Bangor, Maine. He was in the mood to deck me that day after I called him the “…most disturbed man in Bangor” on the radio hours earlier. I stood my ground singing my song about him at full volume to make sure the folks were a witness. He realized I was not going to talk to him and he muttered; “T-t-ake c-c-care. I w-w-want you to t-take c-care.” and sauntered away.
(An afterthought; The odds of that being King are a thousand to one, so I wonder, if it WAS him is he waiting for me to enter his private roadway, first, to kill me and paint it as self defense? Is that one scenario I just missed? I’ll have to stay out of that roadway, I guess. If I were King I’d have a detective shadowing me 24 / 7 and set a trap for me to fall into.)
I will face two bogus charges in Ca. when I return this May and I can’t wait to tell the jury what evil butts the D.A. and the prosecution are to be doing this to me in my opening statement. How they, in fact, were BEHIND my van rolling out of gear with me in the back while my driver that a retired police officer recommended jumped out as I was about to get my teeth pulled that day. I expect to wipe the floor with them, in fact. If I return a celebrity / expose hero I imagine the charges will be dropped. So, on with success in my mission back east.
I have to get busy with my billboard campaign outside King’s residence area; “STEPHEN KING IS A MURDERER (Side one) and “IT’S TRUE, HE CAN’T SUE” (Side two) These along side my website address sign. My signs currently read; ‘THE TRUTH IS HERE – WHERE R U?” and; “JAIL EVIL STEPHEN KING” (Flip side reads; “YOUR COVER-UP IS’NT COOL”) I have to get busy with formal motions and appeals to officials, soon, too. By late March I’ll be heading north. My small sign reads; “SILENT U.S. – YELLOW U.S.”
(Just as I am finishing up, here, I am beset with extreme fatigue. Days ago I broke out in a sweat that left my sheets wet. I’m fine, now, except for the fatigue. Years ago I documented my two bouts in as many years with a virus that almost DID kill me each time. This in the two years prior to the Covid – 19 outbreak. Even the radio I had to turn off, then, it took too much precious energy out of me. I was hanging on by my fingernails. I remarked that “Putin the Poisoner” may have tried to kill me that way. Now I may be somewhat immune, perhaps, to Covid if I WAS the government’s first test subject, then. I get past anything now by blowing it all hard out my nose and sneezing it out of my system for all it’s worth. That’s why we have that ability in the first place it makes sense to me. I also supplement with vitamins occasionally. Although I DID start the mask movement in America I won’t get the vaccine as I already know that Covid has an H.I.V. genome spliced into it (Man made)
March 16, 2021;
Yesterday I dodged two bullets in a row; I got back my two large protest signs AND I avoided a traffic ticket in my haste to retrieve them; all in the same two minutes time.
I had just finished my three by four foot black sign with large neon yellow letters; (I even tweaked my back while making it) the day before that reads;
KING IS A
OR HE’D SUE
March 19, 2021;
I have a lot to put down on my main front page today and all week about Stephen King and Governor DeSantis stalking the messenger. Whatever deletions I might make on the golf page site will have to wait a little until I get myself out of the danger zone…
You should know that I was set up right after my mother died on the day of my scheduled surgery by law enforcement who trashed my newly painted van by orchestrating a sting that found me having to rescue a rolling van from the back section after my driver got out and possibly pushed it to roll it down a hill hoping I’d kill people, even, to take away my license. They’re trying as evil as can be to follow through in court, besides. It has all got me frenzied and worked up into a lather.
We both know what the evil human race did to you before we ever met. That’s why I am trying to save it, too. Now I’m asking you to make allowances for what the evil human race has done to me.
By the way, King’s latest book; “Later” has a tag line on the cover that reads; “Dead men hold no secrets.” King is fantasizing about killing me, apparently. There is a lot of pressure being me. I can’t wait till Florida has him packing as they whisper; “Later.” to him, like Maine did.
March 25, 2021;
Hi, Linda. I’m still waiting for something concrete from you to go by.
. We’ll have to see what happens in the courts trying to pull my license. I may lose the open container ticket, maybe. No jury allowed there. I may beat it, though. I should. Camper vans are allowed to hold booze in the back where it was. I only grabbed it (Less than a swallow of Brandy) because I use identical bottles to hold also olive oil to sooth my throat while singing. I dislike plastic containers. The other ticket I am looking forward to beating WITH a jury as I expose the plot that I was a victim of. I will call the D.A. and assistant D.A. to the stand and pepper them with embarrassing questions to show how unjust my case has been all along. I had to fire two bogus attorneys and disqualify two judges, already. My opening and closing statements should decide my case, I hope. I will simply tell the jury I did nothing wrong and would do exactly the same if I found myself in the same predicament, again – in the back of my van while it was rolling down a hill – except for hiring the driver I did that was recommended to me by a retired S.C. police officer. The pre surgery drug they waited over a year to get results for before applying charges were not found in my system. 0.00. The tiny half dose I took did not effect me at all, besides. I only fainted on the scene because I knew I was just set up by police to crash my newly painted van in the first place. It was a horrifying realization.
April 8, 2021; On top of all that I was detained twice in five minutes by the same female officer near our old Church’s Chicken outlet on Buford Hwy. (Now a “Smoothie King”). While trying to make my earbuds work she said I couldn’t do that and drive but let me go with only a warning. Five minutes later the same officer cited me as I emerged from an O’Reilly auto parts store claiming I jaywalked earlier. Pretty determined to bust me it seems. How could she know I was the same one she saw earlier after exiting a store? She even claimed not to recognize me after seeing me five minutes earlier. It all happened a block from our old Church’s outlet location. Biden, it seems, is acting desperate. Two incidents that allege I like to expose myself to traffic accidents. Future plans to paint me as such if I am killed that way? That’s how the authorities operate is my experience.
Yesterday I called a talk show host back who was trying to get me snared into an interview for a character profile piece he was working on for a talk radio publication. It turns out he interviewed John Hinckley who I think was part of the Lennon cover-up. I think he faked shooting Reagan and Brady to change the topic off of Chapman who was due for trial at the same time, coincidentally. Long story short, I declined his offer. He seemed way too interested (He was willing to drive from Miami, Fl. to Athens Georgia – a 12 hour trip – to meet me at ten pm to photograph me doing my billboard showing and whatever else I do to attract attention for my cause. Singing included, he said. In all likely hood he was part of a media effort to blunt whatever impact I made in Florida by doing a hit piece on me. I told him when the angle showcases my evidence and not me and my sideshow I might be interested, but not till then. The media is a pathologically jealous vampire towards me, anyway. Know that, Linda, as to why I decline so many of their offers. The media is my arch enemy. I’m exposing them all.
April 20, 2021;
I last wrote you in New York just before meeting with the District Attorney; Robert Stewart. After being promised he’d see me if I got there, WHEN I arrived I was turned away on the lame excuse I didn’t have an appointment. Same exact B.S. I endured before. What a place, New York City.
City of New Orleans;
Regarding my early Feb.’21 parking ticket I maintain that your office has lapsed in it’s duty to timely respond to my request for a hearing and that my ticket should be dismissed on that basis, alone. I called in April to see what my status was and was told to wait for an e-mail from you which never arrived. The evidence of correspondence shows over four months passed before your letter was sent to my post office and you lost my original, hand delivered letter arguing my innocence. In that letter I argued that I WAS present and described the officer as an athletic, tall, slim, black female with long braids in her 30’s to prove she was wrong stating “Unoccupied”. I explained that the signage was incomplete and misleading and that only a local would even know what a “Mall” area was and that there are an overwhelming amount of signs everywhere making it impossible to decipher them all. I explained that, at 10:57, I was properly correct in assuming I could go across the street and buy a to go coffee in time, regardless of the confusing signage, and be back before 11:00. Except for a Covid policy requiring me to fill out my name, address and website and phone number just to order coffee took five minutes I’d have been back in time to move and that I should be given allowance for that circumstance. I argued that the parking office was just feet away from me (How could I know that?) and that the officer ticketed me less than five minutes after the enforcement commenced and that should be considered. But for a Covid policy delay I would have been gone by 11:04. A parking ticket on a Sunday seems out of normal for most cities and I detect an unfair amount of $75. asked for a PARKING ticket. That, alone, is against my religion is all I am prepared to say. That put out a red flag for me. Before that moment I had no reason not to like New Orleans. Would I avoid Louisiana forever just over that? Probably, I would. Even your last letter was unclear what my current due amount is. Is it $75. or $200.? Like your signs, there is a confusion. I won’t be sending any amount prior to your ruling based on this letter. I only hope you rule to dismiss this in the interest of justice. New Orleans parking authority DOES confuse the tourists who can’t understand their plethora of overzealous, confusing signs everywhere. Your office took too long to respond to my letter contesting the matter. Without any restrictions I already avoid Philadelphia over their ‘trap’ environment.
I like New Orleans and hope it can welcome me without criminalizing me unfairly over a confusing time for everyone, then. Should you honor my valid arguments for dismissal I would appreciate that. I have principles that should not force me to have to regard Louisiana as off grounds where America is concerned. I believe I AM innocent under the law. I was not contacted in a timely manner after letting my intentions be known I wanted to contest the matter. Regarding your overwhelming and incomplete and confusing signage and unfair fine amounts, I suspect you must chase hundreds of like minded consumers away for life every year. Surprising in a great city, in my opinion.
I declare, under penalty of perjury, that the above is true and correct. Dated Oct. 27, 2021
Steven M. Lightfoot
P.O. Box 7311
Carmel, Ca. 93921
Defendant and Appellant in Pro per
Superior Court of California (Marina Branch)
Motion To Dismiss Due To Discriminatory Prosecution
Motion To Suppress Evidence
Please take notice that I am the defendant in this matter and move to dismiss my case due to discriminatory prosecution. I intend to make this motion oral at time of trial on April 18, 2022 at 1:30 pm. I will be calling witnesses to make my case.
Please take notice that I am the defendant in the above named case and move the court to suppress the video evidence as it was deliberately manipulated by officer Kopp when he took his gloved left hand (Seen on video) and blocked the camera lens for the few seconds it took for me to proceed through the intersection of Lighthouse Ave. and Reeside Ave. His doing so obfuscates the facts of the matter and it cannot be ruled out, since the footage came to a full blackout mode, that the film was edited or modified to show guilt where there may have been none. Even if no editing can be proved the officer’s conduct suggest deception and the evidence of video should be suppressed on that basis. The evidence cannot be trusted. Also, there is no audible sound until after the signal to pull me over was made. I requested it be included but was denied. I should have the right to know what was being said by him over his intercom, if anything, before he pulled out of the parking lot. I suspect the officer was laying in wait for me to cross that section of road as he may have known I was parked at the Goodwill Store a quarter mile away at the time and he may have received information I was en route and to proceed to meet me and make it look like a coincidence when it may have not been. I was busy exposing chief Hober, his supervisor, with flyers all over the peninsula at the time and even had a stack of them on my dash at the time I was cited. His very pulling directly behind me, conspicuously, at a time where multiple intersections and lights were present and then disappearing directly behind me momentarily would cause any motorist to be concerned whether or not he was directly behind my vehicle making any sudden stop unsafe, regardless. This was the case in my citation. The entire procedure was as if it was designed to catch me looking at my rear view mirror out of concern for the officers safety and position. That the officer was perhaps hoping I’d run a light in the process.
Dated March 22, 2022
Subpoena Duces Tecum
Please take notice that I subpoena officer McKenna Hill, the video cam footage officer McKenna Hill took of our encounter and the police report attached that occurred on December 8, 2021 in downtown Monterey on Alvarado Street. The current time and date of trial is on April 18, 2022 in department 20 of the Marina Superior Court. If there are changes to this you will be notified.
Please take notice that I subpoena officer Silonzoch of the Seaside police department as well as his video cam and report of the incident on August 23, 2021 in the library parking lot. Currently the trial date is on April 18, 2022 at 1:30 pm in Department 20 of the Marina Superior Court. Any changes to this you will be notified of.
Dated March 22, 2022
Steven Lightfoot (Defendant Pro per)
Steven Lightfoot (Defendant Pro per)
Motion To Disqualify Judge
I am the defendant in this matter. Please take notice that I request a different judge to hear my Trial De Novo regarding a traffic light citation scheduled for trial on APRIL 18, AT 1:30 in Marina, California. I would like to have an answer as soon as possible so that I may issue subpoenas with the knowledge that the current time and dates are appropriate and not requiring changes. If the court can arrange for a pre trial hearing on the matter before March 25 I’d like that. Otherwise I’d like to know by mail by then if it is granted and including any new changes.
The honorable Judge Mendoza I removed once before due to my belief then that I could not get a fair trial from her in another matter now under appeal. That challenge was granted and I’d expect it also be granted now, especially since she already knows that I do not trust her. I only just found out last week that she heard the matter in my trial by declaration or I’d have recused her for that, too. As it was I left everything to a firm who specializes in trial by declaration matters unaware of who was hearing the matter. Even if I knew who it was I have been under the wrong impression that the judge I removed previously was Judge Maldonado, not Judge Mendoza. In that prior recusal I argued that her judgement against me in a small claims matter involving deliberate sabotage against my other van in 2019 was wrong, glaringly so, and that, on that basis, I could trust her judgement and get a fair trial. I make the same argument now in this matter. Furthermore, in that prior matter, she ruled on a motion to dismiss even after she was recused and that seems improper, too. It was not for her to decide that motion but the judge in Salinas who heard that matter. I also argue that Judge Mendoza cannot give me a fair trial as she has already established a judgement against me in this matter and is already biased entering into this new trial.
She would be prejudiced and inclined not to admit her first judgement was wrong. I have no idea if she did or did not view the video of the matter in the trial by declaration. If she did and still ruled against me in light of the fact that the officer deliberately blocked the camera lens as I entered the intersection, then she cannot be trusted to honor my rights not to be given unfair treatment in the process, regardless of other judgements made. I have already established with this judge that I do not trust her and had her removed before. I gave valid reason enough, before, to have her recused and should have those same arguments granted now. I have reason to believe she is biased and determined to an outcome already established in her mind. Judge Mendoza, who denied my motion to have a change of venue here, suggests that six officers, all lying, with evidence to prove it, in a few years time, is not sufficient to show a bias of law enforcement against me in Monterey County and reason enough to move the matter elsewhere. As such I further do not feel I can get a fair trial from her and that that motion should be re heard my the judge who will replace her instead. This is not to be confused with my other Peremptory Challenge but as a separate motion to disqualify Judge Mendoza based on her biases already displayed.
Her ruling against me in the 2019 small claims matter was egregiously wrong. There is even reason to suspect the court made a call to the defendant to let him know he was late as he only arrived 45 minutes after the time of trial. That she tried to rule on a motion in another subsequent matter when she was already recused suggests she has an agenda where I am concerned. The office who represented my trial by declaration has told me that in their history they have never encountered a case where the judge who heard the trial by declaration was not replaced by a new judge for the trial de novo. That this judge is trying to deny me what should be my right to a new judge further suggests she is biased and agenda driven in my particular case. Frankly, I feel this judge represents the inherent corruption I have found in Monterey County police and courts and has criminal and corrupt intentions with me due to the fact I am exposing our government for killing John Lennon. I feel she has a predetermined agenda to fulfill in convicting me to take away from my bank account money I need to succeed
in that endeavor. If she was appointed at any stage of the proceeding to be the judge for all purposes I was never notified of this. Even if I was I was under the impression at the time it was a Judge Maldonado who heard my other matters and forgot it was Mendoza or I would have objected. Once I discovered Judge Mendoza was the one who ruled in my former case I let the court know I wanted a new judge to hear my case, here. I formally made the motion to do so as soon as possible, after.
For all the injustices the Monterey courts and police are throwing at me my only recourse is to destroy Jimmy Panetta’s reputation and career as I am not a lawyer nor can I afford one. And I will. I DO have reason to suspect the witch hunt against me is being led by Leon Panetta who worked for the very politicians I am exposing; Richard Nixon and the George H.W. Bush family, namely his son, George W.. This Judge Mendoza is displaying biases against me that cannot be ignored and I demand a new judge hear my case.
I declare, under penalty of perjury, that the above is true nd correct.
Dated March 22, 2022
Steven Lightfoot, (Defendant pro per)
TO THE SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF MONTEREY
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA No. 21TR023095
Plaintiff and Respondent;
vs. APPELLANT’S OPENING BRIEF
STEVEN M. LIGHTFOOT
Defendant and Appellant
SUMMARY OF FACTS
Appellant was cited August 28, 2020 for an ‘open container’ charge;————— Though not even
cited, appellant was also subjected to an “Accident” finding in spite of no damage done or complaint by
other car’s owner. This fact was kept a secret from appellant. Both charges were ascribed to appellant
via false statements made by officers Phillip’s who promised to not cite if I passed a sobriety test
which he broke, anyway, on the orders of his sergeant Jason Newby. Newby lied to say it looked like I was
about to take a sip from said bottle in spite of video that refutes that. Newby based his decision to
cite on this false basis. This he told me, personally, via phone. Officer Herdon, who admitted I caused
no damage that night, days later, ordered me to supply my insurance information or he’d add charges in
spite of no damage and no interest to file a complaint by other car’s owner. His sergeant, Newby, later
remarked to me that Herndon was wrong to do so. Herndon never apprised me that he wanted it for an
accident report without a complaint. I didn’t know of this “accident” report until days before trial.
All this was described by me during trial and factors into my appeal.
Appellant filed several motions including motion to dismiss due to discriminatory prosecution, motion for
a change of venue, two motions to recuse two different judges and, I believe, a motion to increase charge
to a misdemeanor to allow for a jury trial. I also asked for a continuance. The motion to recuse
two judges was granted. Weeks before trial appellant tried to subpoena Sergeant Newby only to be told he
was out of town and on vacation to return on the day of trial and, therefore, was unable to serve and
call him as a crucial witness since he ordered the citations based on lies. In fact, I was told that he
could not be served by a clerk though that may not be true. At trial I objected to Sergeant Newby’s
unavailability. During trial the video machine was not working and only the judge was able to view the
video on her private machine while I could not. This, too, I objected to. I was unable to see what was
happening and therefor unable to assist in my defense properly. Judge O’keefe found me guilty and she
explained that the charge would not be listed as a moving violation or affect my DMV record or my
insurance rates. On both counts she misspoke or was unaware of the law in this regard. Afterwards I
learned that, not only was the ticket a moving violation and would affect my insurance rates and DMV
record, I learned that Herndon had turned an innocent no damage / no claim bumper tap into an accident
point on my DMV record, besides. This, though there was no legitimate signature on any complaint.
At trial I explained the laws that allow for a van such as mine to lawfully store alcohol in the living
quarters and that only a case of mistakenly grabbing the wrong identical bottle accounted for it not
being there. I explained I thought it was a bottle of olive oil to sooth my throat for singing at the
time. At no time did I do anything to try to sip from said bottle, the cap sealed tight, throughout. This
fact is verified by police video. For less than two seconds was the bottle away from the living quarters.
Though not listed previously, I want to object to not being apprised about Herndon’s claiming an
accident against me all this time. As a result I was unaware of the need to subpoena him, also, to show
fraud and abuse by police officers. Had I known he had done that in time I would certainly have served
subpoena on him but I was disadvantaged by the fact I was never made aware of this “accident”.
I. Was Sergeant Newby’s unavailability an overall detriment to my defense, and was the clerk wrong to
suggest he couldn’t be served even though he was to return on the day of my trial?
II. Was the malfunctioning of the video machine that prevented me from viewing the goings on a detriment
to my defense? Could I have interacted better had I been able to see what the video was showing?
1II. Was Newby’s decision to charge me, based on provable untruths he made, a factor that should have
been fleshed out in court and was his absence a detriment to my case?
IV. Does Judge O’Keefe’s lack of knowledge of the law in my case and/or her false statements of the
outcome of my disposition render her decision fraudulent and null and void? Did her wrongful assumption
of the severity, or lack thereof, of my disposition cause her to decide one way or the other? Would she
have done so if she knew the consequences would be so severe? Might she have found me not guilty in this
consideration had she known the law better in my case? Did she commit judicial error?
V. Did appellants claim of discriminatory prosecution over his Lennon murderer evidence activism
against the government factor in the strange outcome and the charges, generally? Was Judge O’keefe wrong
in dismissing my motion in this regard given the large number of accompanying issues that seem to fit the
plight of a whistleblower threatening a government conspiracy being exposed to the world and less just a
typical citizen? Can the court deny that the government has a motive to silence my activism given my
evidence in Lennon’s assassination? That so many episodes regarding my driving privileges have occurred
since my Mother’s death and my receiving an inheritance, times ten the ordinary, require the question;
is there government meddling in my case? If correct about my Lennon activism does the government have a
vested interest in hobbling me with this? That these recent episodes are already close to suspending my
license and taking my website van off the streets screams government meddling. Was the court wrong
to summarily dismiss my motion to dismiss due to discriminatory prosecution? In 50 years of good driving
my driving privileges have never been threatened like this. It does smack of being politically
motivated. Since another very similar episode suggest this alleged conspiracy to take my van off
the streets persists. Was Judge O’Keefe wrong to deny my motion? Was the judge in marina, already
recused, wrong to dismiss this motion summary then, too?
VI) Regarding the charge, itself, is a case of mistaken identity in pitch darkness that resulted in the
wrong identical bottle being brought from the living quarters for less that two seconds enough to
sustain the charge given the provable absence of intent to do anything but return it for the right
bottle, a bottle produced immediately filled with olive oil in it? Except for two seconds I was legally
storing the bottle in my living quarters. Can intent be drawn based on this, alone?
VII) Did officer Herdnon, in failing to notify me about a harmless bumper tap that was ascribed to me
as an accident in spite of no damage being done and no interest by the second party to even file a
complaint, did this disadvantage me at trial? Had I known such a fraud was committed against me before
just days before trial I would absolutely have had him served with subpoena. (VIII)
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT;
The fact that Newby took his vacation in such a manner I could not subpoena him DID hamper my defense. He
was a crucial witness who would have been able to demonstrate that his decision to override officer
Phillips promise not to charge me was based on falsehoods that the video bears out. My entire charge was
based on this lie. I was blindsided at the last minute to find him unavailable and this came up against
the date of trial and, though I went to Salinas and filled out the subpoenas to be served, I was unable
to do so. I told judge O’Keefe that Newby’s absence was objectionable and would hurt my defense. Further-
more, a clerk may have falsely advised me he could not be served with a subpoena or I would have.(I)
The malfunctioning video equipment that allowed only the judge to view it absolutely hurt my ability to
properly respond and defend myself. There were episodes crucial to my defense that I was unable to
respond to because I could not see what was happening. This also prevented me from reacting to what was
being shown and this limited the scope of my being able to defend myself properly. I was unable to
direct the judge to the vital spots and know where she was presently making it impossible to assist in
navigating her to where my defense needed to go. Like trying to eat a meal while blindfolded comes to
mind for one analogy. (II)
Jason Newby’s complaint was based on his lie he thought I was trying to take a sip from said bottle or
he would not have cited me at all. By his not being there to question the entire foundation of the charge
brought forward is brought into question. Had I had the opportunity to question him in this regard he
might have properly asked the judge to rescind the charge under this circumstance. (III)
Regarding Judge O’keefe’s misunderstanding and/or misstatements regarding the disposition of her finding
she did display some leniency and I feel she might have found me innocent, outright, had she known how
severe the impact would be on my life and driving record. If she was unknowledgeable of these issues she
should not have been allowed to hear my case at all. She normally does not conduct traffic matters and
her lack of knowledge is cause for appeal. That she was mistaken in her announcements and the gravity of
the impact of this charge is cause for appeal and even dismissal. Judicial error is apparent. (IV)
Regarding my motion to dismiss due to discriminatory prosecution that was denied, several facts exist to
suggest I was treated differently than most and it very probably had something to do with how desperately
the state has gone to ascribe an accident where there was none, for example. Had I not been one exposing
the government for such a controversial issue as John Lennon’s assassination would all these lies by
three officers have been told to cite me in the first place? The fact that my website emblazoned van is
a rolling advertisement for my expose and the fact that it is in jeopardy of being removed from the
streets over these charges does seem suspicious. I think the judge was wrong not to grant my motion to
dismiss, especially given the egregious police activities even before this matter but also the egregious
acts demonstrated in this case as well. Herdon’s actions were entirely uncalled for. The government
does not have the right to punish one with the law, even partly having to do with his political
activities, and this seems to be the case here. The fact that I was displaying a billboard about the
Santa Cruz District Attorney Rosell on my van that night; “D.A. ROSELL IN PLOT TO KILL ME- SEE SITE” may
have factored into the attempts by these officers to initially try to cite me for multiple offenses. For
example: Although I was parked directly across from the bumper tap incident, parked, engine off, and was
still under consideration for leaving the scene of an accident is ludicrous, yet they tried to apply that
law where there was no ground. I think much of what happened may have had to do with Rosell maybe asking
Monterey’s Chief Hober to conduct a sting or apply maximum leverage against me in retaliation for
exposing him so profoundly with my poster that was just erected days earlier, in fact. That my motion to
dismiss was so obviously disregarded given the facts suggests it was wrong for the court not to grant it.
I find it alarming that the Judge in Marina who was already recused announced that she had dismissed
this same motion even though the matter was not in her hands at that point. That, too, seems unusual. (V)
Regarding the charge, itself, as the video shows me singing in public, it is reasonable to assume I was,
indeed, reaching for the olive oil to sooth my throat and not a bottle of practically empty alcohol. I
claimed this immediately and produced the identical bottle refilled with olive oil for proof. The law
requires intent and this was not demonstrated to the degree necessary to charge. It may also account for
why Newby would try to suggest I ever tried to sip when the video proves I did not. To presume intent.
Regarding officer Herndon not apprising me that an accident report had even been made, mush less
ascribed to me, was not usual procedure and it disadvantaged me because I was unaware of this fraud
committed by him and, had I known before trial, I would absolutely served subpoena on him. His actions
resulted in my being disadvantaged. In this respect, alone, I was deprived of a fair trial. (VII)
ARGUMENT; (Not because there aren’t appropriate precedents to bolster my case, but because my arguments stand on their own for interpretation and there are likely precedents to show in spite of my inability to find them, I’m forced to rely on the court to accept my arguments on their face value and apply their knowledge of precedents to prove otherwise. – As if there were no precedents established – Given my limited legal knowledge and the difficulty even Google has presented in directing me to said precedents I have not been able to properly source them on my own. I attest that precedents do exist to bolster all my arguments. I should not be penalized because I am not a lawyer and am unable to find them.))
(I) On the first matter; Sergeant Newby’s absence, though I tried to call him as a witness, damaged
my case. I could have shown that he lied to make the charge in the first place. The video would have
proved that and he would have been forced to admit there is nothing to suggest his claim. His authority
to charge would have been discredited, perhaps to the point of a dismissal finding. That a clerk may
have also lied to suggest he could not be called to a subpoena during his vacation may not be true I
have since learned and that is something to also consider. I may have been misinformed on that issue by
a clerk. Newby would not have been able to prove intent as he tried to suggest, the basis of his charge.
(II) On the second matter, the faulty video that only allowed the judge to view the goings on prevented
me from interacting with the video and therefore deprived me of appropriately responding to needed
elements of my defense. Did Newby lie to suggest he thought I tried to sip? I couldn’t respond to this,
for example, because I had no way of knowing what the judge was viewing nor was I able to navigate her
to the appropriate part of the tape to see what I intended to prove. Like trying to eat a meal while
blindfolded, I was forced to defend myself while having no idea what the judge was even viewing and, as
a result, I was unable to navigate her to sections I needed or even respond to what she was viewing.
Absolutely unfair. Only the prosecution had visual access to the video evidence.
(III) I had video evidence that proves Sergeant Newby knowingly lied about why he ordered officer
Phillips to cite me. He said it was because he thought I was trying to take a sip. Video shows at no
time did I ever do anything with that bottle other than look at it, my hands no where near the secure
and tight lid. It was accidentally plucked from my living quarters in the dark and I hadn’t even had
time to see which bottle it was as it was away from said living quarters less than two seconds. In not
being able to serve him with a subpoena to prove police misconduct and fraud before the court I was
deprived of a fair trial. That a clerk may have wrongfully told me he could not be served under the
conditions when, in fact, he may have been, adds to the unfairness.
(IV) Judge O’Keefe, in saying my violation would not be a moving violation or impact my DMV record and
insurance rates was a lie. At best it was a misrepresentation of the truth. Perhaps she was unaware of
the law in this regards since she normally does not handle traffic matters. Whichever the case, she was
wrong and her guilty finding cannot be valid if she was not even aware of the law and it’s ramifications
in this matter. She demonstrated that she was not sufficiently versed in the law in my case and, as
such, the guilty verdict should be rescinded. The fact she was under the impression my case was not a
serious matter suggests she may not have found me guilty had she known otherwise. That she allowed my
case to be conducted allowing only the state to view the video and not the defendant is also unfair and
grounds for a reversal.
(V) No man in California state history can point to more egregious abuse by law enforcement in the past
40 years as I can. Hundreds of episodes that include a 1983 visit from the secret service, a summons
against me for “breaking and entering” and “attempted grand theft” “kidnapping” that I had nothing to do
with, hundreds of parking tickets that were found to be fraudulent in a four year period, a 1987
kidnapping and pistol-whipping by officers Steven Rist and Kevin Hall of S.F.P.D. where I was wrongfully
admitted to a hospital claiming I had yelled death threats to Yoko Ono when I had not. The hospital
agreed, in one day, that I was sane and not a candidate for the officers false charges. I was beaten
unconscious while handcuffed and on my knees protecting me newly repaired nose that was broken by
strangers weeks earlier. I was subjected three times to a gun pointed directly in my face without cause,
including once an hour after Reagan was re-elected in 1984. I was nationally slandered on the national
television news in 1994 as a stalker of Stephen King based on a false charge of trespassing that was
dropped days later. In between several false arrests and confiscations of my protest signs and dozens of
unmentioned episodes of police abuses I have emerged unscathed and have no criminal record in 67 years.
Recently I have cause to believe two attempts were made to assassinate me via two suspicious accidents,
one involving a woman running a red light at about 60 mph T-boning my delivery truck and almost killing
me. In that instance no one was cited and the intersection was repaved the very next day to destroy the
evidence, in my opinion. Two years later, after moving to southern California for fear I was being
hunted by officials up north I was a victim of a uniformed Navy cadet who slammed his truck into my
narrow wheelbase Toyota van and almost rolled me on a San Diego freeway. He, too, was not cited. Now,
following my mother’s 2018 death and my receiving an inheritance all manner of sting operations have
been set to entrap me in the hopes the state can take my boldly emblazoned lennonmurdertruth.com website
van off the streets and stop my first amendment rights that way. On January 10, 2019 a driver a police
officer recommended to me left my van rolling down an hill with me in the back section that forced me to
jump into the driver’s seat to stop it from causing worse damage than it did. My dental operation was
delayed, my newly painted van damaged. Even though there was a 0.00 finding of drugs or alcohol in my
blood I was charged with D.U.I. I was charged after the year statute expired, as if to taunt me. I was
harassed, my speedy trial rights denied for over two years and I fired two disingenuous lawyers
and recused three biased judges from my case before it was finally dismissed before trial. In the middle
of all this court terrorism against me an episode in downtown Monterey which smacked of tag team fraud
between D.A. Rosell of Santa Cruz, who I was exposing with a billboard on my van at the time, and chief
Hober found three of his police cars and six officers responding to a harmless bumper tap that found
officer Phillips lying to me that he would not cite me if I passed a sobriety test and his Sergeant;
Newby of also lying that I ever tried to sip as his reason to have me cited. In the process I was put
before a judge who either did not know the law and it’s application in my case or lied about the status
of her guilty finding. Also officer Herndon wrongfully ascribed an accident report against me without
informing me or receiving a signed complaint that was valid. We’re talking about this matter before the
court. To suggest, given all I’ve shown the court in my motion, that I am not entitled to dismissal on
the grounds of discriminatory prosecution, is utterly ludicrous. I should never have stood trial given
the unfairness I have endured recently, much less, in the past. Judge Seigal admitted his bias.
VI) Yes, for less than two seconds, my bottle was not in my living quarters. I was about to exchange it
for the right olive oil bottle before officer Phillips grabbed it from my hand. My intent was not to do
anything other that sooth my hoarse throat with olive oil as I was on video singing in public initially.
Though it can be proved Sergeant Newby lied I ever tried to sip from any bottle, on video, that shows my
hands never near the tightly sealed cap, he wrongfully tried to suggest intent where there was none. No
intent can be demonstrated by any testimony or evidence. It factors into a man’s guilt. It was pitch
dark and the bottles were identical and it was an innocent mistake not befitting a finding of guilty.
Except for less than two seconds the half sip of alcohol I was carrying was legally stored in my van.
VII) Officer Herndon broke several rules; He alleged “No damage” at one point, encountered the other
car’s owner and was still unsuccessful in eliciting a complaint or a finding of damage and still
ascribed a accident against me with a false report. Then he failed to inform me of his actions leaving
me to think there was no fraud committed all this time when there was. Had I been properly informed I
would have served with a subpoena and my defense would have been less hobbled than it was as things
tuned out. This damaged my right to a fair trial.
For the reasons set forth above, appellant’s conviction should be reversed. In addition the trial court
should be ordered to dismiss the matter rather than retry appellant. The People’s failure to provide
needed witnesses that would have been shown engaged in fraud but could not be secured as witnesses
because one was on vacation and another remained hidden, unannounced as being involved in another false
charge,; “accident” amounts to a denial of due process. That the judge was not familiar with the law in
my case and wrongfully said my matter would not be listed as a moving violation or impact my DMV record \
or insurance rates is more evidence I did not receive a fair trial. Judicial error. My prior episodes
with police presented in my motion to dismiss were sufficient to grant dismissal and were, instead,
overlooked, entirely. The State has a vested interest in protecting the very government I am exposing in \
Lennon’s murder and can’t be trusted to fairly access my motion in this regard. The law concerning
storing alcohol in a camper van is different from other vehicles and I was in compliance but for a
mistaken grab of the wrong bottle for less than two seconds and does not comport with the law and a
finding of guilt since there was no evidence to suggest anything other than my intent to grab the other
bottle was demonstrated. I, in fact, immediately did produce said bottle of olive oil, my true intent.
Only the prosecution was able to view the video evidence and thus prevented me, the defense, from
equally interacting and navigating the video because I was unable to know what the judge was seeing. I
was also unable to react to anything the video was showing. I was cut out of that entire process. I did
attempt to serve Newby weeks earlier but was unable to do so and I may have even been misadvised by a
clerk who said I could not serve him while on his vacation when that may not be true.
(As stated above, I rely on the merits of my arguments to stand alone as if there were no precedents in the matter and to be decided on the existing precedents that do exist to bolster my arguments but are inaccessible to me due to lack of legal knowledge. If the court can show precedents that refute my arguments I will listen, but absent that, my inability to know the profession of law and legal matters should not adversely affect my appeal.)
As I have been alleging, all along, the police are behind these unwar-
ented citations in a systematic way utilizing dishonest, illegal
methods to criminalize me and bleed my bank account and take away my
website van and driver’s license so as to hobble my evidence expose
activism. I even alleged the F.B.I. and others may be involved.
This December 08, an hour before my downtown Monterey, noon rally, I
noticed a large truck had been parked in a yellow zone parallel to
my parked van for over a half hour. While checking on the two signs
I had leaned up against my bumper I noticed a man on the phone
inside this truck. I smiled, politely and asked him how much longer
he was planning on being parked there. He rudely and angrily
replied; “Three or four hours. How long are YOU going to be parked
there?” I replied; “About another half hour until my limit is
expired. Why are you being so mean to me?” He replied; “Because I
think you’re a pieces od shit!” Right away I returned his epithet, I
regret to say, and went to my van to call police to see if they
could move this man along who was parked illegally in a yellow zone.
I thought at the time he must be with police because no other group
has ever shown me so much hate. I had been exposing chief Hober for
months with my website and flyers I handed out all over town. While
on the phone with dispatch this man climbed up onto the curb with
his tire and flashed his lights and honked his horn. The next thing
I knew he rammed his truck into my van and signs damaging two of
them. One was taped to my body panel and he could easily have dented
it. My bumper was moved several inches to the point it touched my
body panel, evidence shows. No outstanding damage to my van,
however, save for a very slight dip (1/8th of an inch) on that side
of the bumper itself. I got his plate as he sped away after I told
him to stay and dispatch heard the entire episode. Thirty minutes
later officer McKenna Hill approached me and quickly told me there
would not be any report of a hit and run because my van was, not
very damaged. That’s not what the law reads. It reads property
damage. I wondered why she was being so biased since I was being
charged in another harmless bumper tap from August 23, 2021 where I
was physically chased away from the scene by a violent man
threatening to hit me. I tried to call police but the librarian was
unable to do so and he was between me and my cell phone. When I
slowly left, minutes later, for fear of my safety, he never said a
word or did anything to indicate he wanted me to stay. Now it was
clear this law was unevenly being applied by her refusing to cite
him for hit and run. A Google search days later revealed a photo of
several uniformed officers with Hober and this man was one of the
officers. This man who hit me IS a police officer with Hober’s
department. Retired, I hear. A friend of mine confirmed he knows
this man and that he is a retired police officer. He also confirmed
that he drives a large, metallic tan twin cab truck. Only a final
stage investigation is left to tie him, definitively, to the very
police department I have been alleging, all along, is out to take
away my driver’s license and criminalize me and bleed my bank
account. Under this new circumstance it is clear my motion to
dismiss due to discriminatory prosecution is valid and should be
honored, now, with a complete dismissal of the charge I am appealing.
I declare, under penalty of perjury, the above is true and
Dated November 28, 2021 Respectfully submitted. Steven Lightfoot
(A) STAEMENT OF FACTS
(B) QUESTIONS OR ISSUES PRESENTED
(C) SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
PROOF OF SERVICE
I, ___________________________________________, DECLARE;
I am over the age of eighteen an not a party to the within action.
My business address
in the county within which the within-mentioned mailing (Or hand delivery) occurred.
On November 30, 2021 I served the within appellants Opening Brief on Respondent by placing a true copy
thereof in a separate sealed envelope, with he postage therein fully pre paid, in the United States
Postal Service at ____________________________, California the envelope being addressed as follows
I declare, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Dated November 30, 2021 _________________________________________________________________________________
PROOF OF DEPOSIT WITH TRIAL COURT
I, _________________________________________________________________________, declare;
On November 30, 2021, I caused a copy of the within appellant’s Opening Brief to be deposited with the
trial court below by personally delivering a true copy thereof to the deputy clerk of the said court for
delivery to the honorable Judge ________________________________________, the judge who presided below
at the trial in this action.
I declare, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California, that the foregoing is
true and correct.
Dated November 30, 2021 ______________________________________________________________________________
Sincerely, Steve Lightfoot. Please let me know your decision. If you choose what I think we both think is the right thing to do a better result will emerge, I think.
P.O. Box 7311
Carmel, Ca. 93921 Superior Court of Monterey – Marina Branch
Motion for Change of Venue
People of the State of California ……. Ticket Number;
(Plaintiff) ……. Dept.
vs Steven Lightfoot ……… November , 2021
(Defendant) …… Time;
To the above court please take notice that I will move for a change of venue because of political considerations that already exist with me and the counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz. Both counties have abused my political activism with unwarranted tickets and related actions. I already, in fact, had judge recused over her biased findings regarding a 2020 small claim’s matter she ruled on, once. This regarding another ticket I am currently appealing. I want her as well as Judge O’Keefe and Judge Panetta recused due to O’Keefe’s actions on that ticket, then, misrepresenting the disposition to me and other mistakes she made and I want Panetta recused, again, due to his ties to the Bush family who is implicated in my Lennon murder evidence findings that I allege I am being unfairly persecuted over. With so many judges proving biased I doubt I can get a fair trial in this county and petition for a change of venue. I plan to orally argue the points in court.
Motion to Demand a Jury Trial
Via Changing Status of Charge
To A Criminal Status
I have been unfairly treated by several judges in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties and request a jury trial, even if it means upgrading the status of my charge to criminal. I reserve my right, in doing so, to implement my right to expunge the matter via driving school that I am eligible for should I lose. I plan to argue the matter orally in court.
Motion To Recuse Judge’s
Independent of my peremptory rights to recuse, I ask to recuse judge’s , O’Keefe and Panetta due to a display of bias and improper rulings against me regarding the first judge, and the other two for my already having them recused in another matter. In Panetta’s case, his family ties to the Bush political family who I am exposing with John Lennon murder evidence presents a conflict. In Judge O’Keefe’s case she misrepresented the facts of my disposition in another matter. I plan to argue the matter orally in court.
Motion To Dismiss Due To Compromised Video Evidence – Lack of Sufficient Evidence;
Please take notice that I, Steve Lightfoot, the defendant in this case, move to dismiss due to compromised video evidence in my case. I intend to show that there is not enough evidence to prove, beyond a doubt, my guilt because the very part of the video that shows the light and intersection at the time of alleged violation has been deliberately blocked out by the officer’s hand for a few seconds rendering the image completely blacked out until after the fact. This blacked out interruption of the video allows ny number of ways for the film to be edited or modified. The video perspective cannot definitively show if I’m past or behind the line. It comes down to only the officer’s word against mine. Along this vein, other officers; Phillips, Newby, and Herndon, ALL THREE, have LIED to me in a previous matter to show there IS an agenda to get my website van with lennonmurdertruth.com all over it taken off the streets or to at least deplete my meager money resources via this expensive, very likely orchestrated, ticket and to add a point to my record I don’t deserve. I intend to provide the newsletter I offered to show officer Copp at the tie I was distributing to the public right before I was cited to show another agenda fueling this ticket; to punish me for exposing chief of Monterey police; Dave Hober..
I declare, under penalty of perjury, that the above is true and correct
Dated October 28, 2021
Steven Lightfoot, (Defendant pro per)
Carmel, Ca. 93921
Superior Court of California
County of Monterey, Salinas Branch
Motion To Dismiss Due to Late Responding Brief;
I am the defendant in the above listed matter. On November 30, 2021 I delivered my Opening Brief. The court has failed to meet it’s deadline to submit it’s opening Responding Brief. On this basis I request that my appeal be granted and this matter dismissed.
Respectfully, and under penalty of perjury, I declare the above is true and correct.
Dated January 11, 2022
Steven Lightfoot; Defendant / pro per
THE CORE DRIVEN GOLF SWING
By Steve Lightfoot Copyright c 2019 All Rights Reserve
INTRODUCTION / BIOGRAPHY:
Insert; Dec. 3, 2019
While an unknown, mostly, in golf circles, and not one with a tour career pedigree or other facts to point to to be considered an authority figure in golf technique, I do appreciate the value of the correct thought to use to properly activate one’s body to hit good golf shots. A golf swing is pretty easy to understand if you appreciate a few things that must happen. You must coil your upper body to the top – 90 or more degrees in a full swing – and fully release it to the target on the forward swing. You must do this with a weight shift that finds you lifting most of your weight off your forward foot at the top and lifting most of your weight off your rear foot during the strike. You must do this without moving your head back and forth or up and down. This requires you to let the shoulders, arms and club move, instead, so that you can stay steady at the top. You must also configure your shoulders, arms and hands and club so that the motion is target oriented , especially the club shaft. They must also command a wide berth in their journey. There is a little more having to do with tempo and timing, but that’s a golf swing condensed down to its basic form. Being human beings we like to use thoughts to trigger good body actions, especially from a static position such as address. It’s a less instinctive sport than others in that respect where you are always in motion. You have to pre program your swing to an extent. The pros certainly have to do this for even they are not born golf gods and had to figure out a lot of things having to do with mostly body parts to get to their level of play. The proper golf swing thought is key to making progress. Some absolutely ring a louder bell than others and create instant results on command. For example, here’s one; Equally apply both hands and shoulders in a swing – both, equally, – and your swing will start to behave. If you want to use your hands vigorously make sure you use your shoulders equally as much or things will go awry.
Here’s another; To make a good backswing focus on what you want out of your downswing, a powerful application of all levers along a desired path. Appreciate that the backswing is merely the cracking open of a door you want to slam. It’s merely a necessary move to make another move. It’s the slam of the door that matters and where your mind should be. You address the ball with the club at first to measure the distance and you somehow crank your torso up so as to coil back for a powerful unwind forward, you unconsciously stretch out your arms and club and, when you reach the top, the real part of the swing begins; the forward blow through the ball. By focusing on an athletic downswing your body instinctively achieves a more compound pivot back than when just thinking about making a good backswing. When mastered a good backswing feels utterly tension free until the star down locks all pressure points into action for a downswing. Besides this advantage now the swing becomes instinctual, almost starting as you find yourself perched and coiled at the top; “Now, what do I do?” Like an athlete in motion, a tennis player or baseball player reacting to a pitch. Now it’s a feeling like tossing up a baseball and just waiting until it drops enough to smash out into the outfield.
Make sure that, somehow, the speed of the club is unfettered and as fast and brisk as possible from impact to mid follow through no matter what else you do in your swing. You have to have a consistent grip pressure on the club and save your assertiveness for this part of the swing in doing so. This will iron out a whole lot of kinks, especially regarding body sequencing and tempo.
Regarding your grip, keep it secure start to finish, no easing up and re tightening at differing stations. (Centrifugal force at impact automatically tightens the grip). You don’t want to “let go of” and “re grab” the club while you’re swinging. Bobby Jones and others used to even open up the left hand at the top. I discourage this kind of action. Never let go of the control of the club you had at address at any point in a swing. If the coiling to the top with your shoulders wants to wrest the club security from your grip you’ve either not coiled enough or simply given up too easily with the grip.
How does one apply the hands??? This is a swing thought that came to me late in life. I found out recently just exactly WHAT the hands must do; They must whirlybird the club, head over handle, through the hitting zone like a one bladed propeller, like a weed whacker or a weight on a string. They don’t just go along for the ride. If the hands do NOT release the club in a whirling rotational motion through impact the body will not have fully applied it’s powerful weight shift and coil / uncoil to the ball. It’s a separate but combined swinging of the club with the hands along with the swinging of the arms and club assembly which is powered by the shoulders. It’s anything but a steering motion. All this is done with 30% grip pressure, besides. This amount of firmness remains constant with no let up. By having a somewhat firmish grip your shoulders and body are forced to turn to the top and uncoil to the finish. A loose hold, conversely, allows the wrists to simply finish the back swing and follow through leaving the shoulders and body untapped. The only alignment consideration is what plane the club will ride on through this whirling motion, like aligning an imaginary disc or Frisbee shape the club shaft rides / whirls on in the grip area through the strike. Meanwhile you just whirl the club like a weight on a string, round and round, end over end and save the feeling of all this rotation for the impact zone. In this sense the swing is really more of a propelling of the club through impact hidden within the over all back and forth swing, itself. As for the core driven aspect of it, there is the central propeller action of the otherwise still shoulders at the center of all these propeller actions that must also be engaged..
Think of the difference of just throwing a stick in the air straight up and throwing a stick straight up in the air while making it spin end over end, over and over and over as much as possible. This is the action you need to co-ordinate the hands WITH the body and this gives your swing a ‘ pop’, a co-ordination and effortlessness it never had before. In fact the club rotates end over end five times in a swing – one and a half times to the top and three and half time from top to finish. – (I’ve done the math.) The secret is to harness this sensation of rotation as much as possible through the hitting zone. To repeat; it’s less a simple releasing of a wrist angle from mid downswing to mid follow through of, say, about 190 – 220 degrees – the factual amount.- Instead, it feels more like a release of the club at least twice that amount, say maybe 360 or more degrees of rotation through the hitting zone. As much ‘whirl’ effect as you can apply. Just preparing for this before you swing seems to instill the wrist retention in the downswing you need automatically. Just knowing you are about to unwind the club through the ball helps you wait that little bit more until you do. Then it’s an all out release and no room left for steering. P – O – W – ! For some this sensation can feel like converting the shaft from straight up to straight down in the millisecond just before impact – like flipping a stick end over end at the last second. One thought that works for me is to imagine the shaft going from aimed to the target at the top to aimed to the target after impact all in one fell swoop.
Even the backswing should have a mini propeller action that slightly swings the club like a weight on a string from the hands just enough to instill that sensation before applying it the opposite way during impact. You may notice that Dustin Johnson, for example, has a slight, early set of the hands just as he starts his backswing. So long as the shoulders are just as active, no harm, no foul.
Similarly, the putting stroke involves a little end over end action. It took me 50 years to figure out the “secret” of a good putting stroke; just as you would swing a weight on the end of a string you make your putting stroke. Very gently you start the swinging motion causing minimal disturbance, you WAIT for the return swing and – as you go through the ball – you swing the head past the handle like a weight on a string at exactly impact and then continue to let it swing past the handle. You line up your stroke like a knife through a block of cheese and swing it back and forth like a weighted string. You hear the top pros talk of “releasing the putter”. This is the essence of it.
Regarding developing torque in your back swing, turn your shoulders fully to the top against the resistance of your left knee which tugs target wards at all times. Think of the knee as the ‘bow handle’ and the left shoulder as the ‘string’ pulled back tight against the other. I urge this thought versus shoulders vs. hips to do the same thing. This way the legs are pre activated for the downswing and in proper delivery position early on.
Another good thought that is also good for your back is SNUGGLE UP a little with your address. Stand comfortably close to the ball, not at an unnecessary distance. You even get more leverage in the bargain as your body pushes upwards during impact. You’re standing closer to the ball and this transfers more leverage, automatically. Here’s another thought that has merit that you don’t hear about in the conventional talk about golf technique; There is a counter balance point in a swing almost exactly opposite the position of the club head at any given point in a swing. A golf swing harnesses that weight against a constant, revolving, opposite tug that propels the club in a centrifugal manner. The levers of your body coordinating to act like a gear, always changing with the position of the club, I think JUST AHEAD OF the exact opposite position of it at all times. The way a child spins a weight on a string, his fingers making a tiny copy of the the larger circle he is making with the weight. For example, as you start down and your club is above your head your weight wants to first descend straight down opposite the position of the weight of the club. As you hit mid downswing and the club is opposite the target your body weight transfers itself target wards, the near opposite position of the club. Through impact a golfer pushes up powerfully against the ground AGAINST the full weight of the club now going down into the ground and forward at the same time. Again, the legs and body are pushing up opposite the position of the club to create force. After the club has past the body and now faces the target the body instinctively pulls back on the club and brings the swing to a stop. There is this centrifugal dynamic present that I think needs some explaining. My number one primary thought is to consider that what your shoulders do is the core of the action and that a solid swing flows from the inside, out, not the outside in, as happens when you let your arms activate the body. The shoulders do not merely go along for the ride, they POWER the ride. A swing begins and should be centrally activated from the shoulder region, both away from and through the ball to the finish. At least that is where your mind focus should be. Like a swing set has a pair of A frame legs and a chain that attaches at the top crossbar with a seat below, so is a golf swing. (Sometimes it is the very most obvious comparisons we overlook.)The only joint that moves is where the chain attaches to the crossbar, or, in golf terms, your shoulders. This is the “core” of the swing. I assure you that no other thought works as well as trying to achieve a deep turning of the shoulders in both directions – as deep as you can, in fact – to make the rest of the swing come together as one dynamic machine. Once a correct grip and stance and 30 percent grip pressure is applied all one has to do is achieve as much range of motion as one can with the shoulders in both directions, keeping the arms extended, throughout, and try to rotate the shoulders like a wheel through the ball. By making that your swing goal – a powerful unwinding of the shoulders through the ball – the rest of your body will behave properly and in the proper sequence, almost automatically. It is in the shoulders that this small circle creates the larger outer circle and where you sense the creation of centrifugal force. While leverage may occur from the ground upwards – the downswing grabbing leverage first with the feet, then cascading progressively upwards into the shoulders – your mental focus is on activating the shoulders. A proper golf swing achieves great club speed and arc USING a deep shoulder rotation in both directions to make this speed happen. While we all want to focus on club speed we too often neglect the need to also rotate the shoulders through with a similar momentum and some freewheeling of their own. The shoulders represent the tiny circle you make with your fingers when spinning a weight on a string. It is a mirror copy of the larger circle the club head makes. This tiny circle your fingers make in propelling the weight is like the force your shoulders should make to activate the club head. One circle creates the other. The inner circle activity is just ahead of the outer circle activity at all times until after release. Staying just ahead of the opposite position of the weight you are swinging, your whole body tugs, constantly, ever changing, against the club weight. By being just ahead of the opposite end of the weight at all times you establish DIRECTION as well as the CREATION OF CENTRIFUGAL FORCE. For the purposes of this book this is the part of the swing I focus on; activating the shoulders as if a giant hand is turning them like a doorknob deeply in both directions, one move against the other, compressing the swing into a dynamic force. As soon a the club moves the shoulders start to coil, the arms and club cocking gradually, all arriving at the top at the same time. Speed of shoulder turn is not as important as range of motion. It’s almost a heavy, grinding feel of one gear moving an extended apparatus; the arms and club. A little slowing occurs during take away and transition. Starting gradually and then to an all out release from impact to finish. You want the sensation of rotating the shoulders through impact with a speed and revolution of their own. We’re talking about just how important those two bones between your neck and shoulder tips really are. They give your swing more return for their meager actions than any other part of the body. If they are moving at any speed the club is moving many, many times faster. Think of how you twirl a baton and imagine your shoulder bones are just that. That’s the center of it all. Twirl them in alignment with your target and put your mind focus there.
While it is a shoulder oriented swing, mentally, the lower body shuttles into various positions to give the shoulders the leverage they need to instinctively do their job. A case of your center of mass (stomach / hip area) helping your center of rotation; the shoulders, the lower body acting as a kind of pendulum to the Grandfather clock face above. From the feet up through the shoulders the body wrenches the shoulders and club through. Weight is shifted mostly with the lower body while the shoulders rotate in a fixed position until the finish at which time they move a little forward and up to ease the back. Activate the core and golf can be powerful and easy becoming more about hitting positions at critical points in your swing than mere force. It doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen faster than you think. Golfers who epitomize this style are Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Mike Austin (Long ball phenom from the 40’s), Sam Snead and too many current and past stars to list, frankly. I think they were and are successful BECAUSE they had an activated core as the foundation of the rest of their swing. This kind of swing displays a deep shoulder coil and uncoil and extended arms. The point farthest from the ball – the shoulders – is what the mind focus should be on. This is where the swing is powered from, mentally. This technique makes golf as close to being as easy as swinging in a swing, the kind you enjoyed as a child, as any other method I’ve tried. I hope what I have learned in my love affair with golf can serve others. I have a detective’s pedigree and past in matters of politics and geometry and think I shed a new and effective way to THINK to make the body do what it needs to do.
My Golf Backround;
I think the lesson learned for me was a book from a dance choreographer / golf instructor named Alex Morrison from the 1940’s. He wrote a book titled ” A New Way To Better Golf” It vaulted my performance in 1977 from second to last in my very first amateur event; the Southern Amateur, to, just months later, third place at one under through 31 holes in the U.S. Amateur qualifying rounds in Richmond, Va.. A large crowd showed up to watch me on the next tee and it spooked me to learn I was even in contention with only seven spots for 108 golfers. I choked from the shock, I’ll admit, but Alex Morrison’s book had me playing top golf in a big event, nonetheless. I wound up winning the playoff spot for first alternate but fell just a shot out of being able to play in the biggest amateur event there is. At that point I had only played in a few serious events in my life. Morrison’s book explained the importance of using your back muscles, especially the left side, for leverage back through the ball. Like erecting a sail to catch the wind, make a full turn away from the target with your shoulders applying your back to the swing. His book was very much a part of this book, now. I have also read dozens of books from the pros of my day but Jack Nicklaus’ Golf My Way was also a part of my overall outlook on golf technique.
I was a talented, somewhat gifted golfer shooting an 83 my first, ever, round on a par 70 nine hole course. I was 13 then and quit, immediately, I thought it was so easy. The clubs were so ancient the steel shafts had vinyl coating. At 17 I took it up officially and was promptly in the high 90’s, suddenly, wondering what WAS this game, golf? Within a year I shot a 68 and six months later a 64, I believe. I had flashes of brilliance but later came to admit that a short lower left leg (3/4 inch difference) held me back from the big time. That and the fact that I had only me to root me on as my family knew better than to encourage me. You need support to achieve anything in life. In later years I was second or third man on whatever school team I played on – high school and junior college – and of no consequence, generally, in golf circles. I had big dreams though. I plowed ahead, anyway, and tried to make it on the PGA tour. Between 1979 and 1981 I tried three times and never made the first cut. I also tried to qualify in several U.S. Open events, again, missing the cut. My entire career involved maybe ten non school events. I recall shooting a 72 at Pinehurst (# 4) in competition but averaged in the mid and high 70’s, honestly.
In 1978 I saw Bobby Clampett ( the best amateur in the world, then ) hit golf balls and I moved to Carmel, Ca. to learn from his teacher, Ben Doyle (Now deceased). Bobby’s was a swing from another planet, it was so poised, poetic and efficient, I had to learn it. I was still an amateur, then, when I started with Ben. Ben was gem of a friend to have and I learned a lot from him. I spent three years studying a very scientific and technical method taught in Homer Kelly’s book; The Golfing Machine. Levers, vectors, fulcrums, etc.. I only grasped half of it but my swing became better and I understood it better than before. People remark I swing a lot like Bobby Clampett, so something rubbed off, I suppose. I was only a 2 handicap, ever, however, in my life. Currently, at 66, I’m about a 6, I suppose. What is different about me is I plan to get down to at least scratch sometime soon. Once I can get my other career behind me and find time. It has been a three decades long sabbatical from serious golf and I’m up for the challenge. I can see me shooting my age sometime soon, hopefully.
Andy Bean saw me one time in 1981 when I pretended I was a pro on the Pebble Beach event practice tee. I was outdoing myself, I’ll admit, striking it long and straight, then. (No choking in front of a crowd this time.) He remarked to the stunned crowd; “I guess I just don’t have the right swing guru.” Apparently the Ben Doyle method was more obvious about me than I knew, then. Ben, himself, was among the nations top 100 teachers then. In 2001(?) Matt Kuchar once walked out of his way to compliment my swing on the Stanford practice tee during one of his college events. I suppose I have a pretty good swing. It is in this book for you to judge. I use the techniques I teach. I had, if nothing else, the drive and desire and work ethic to make it to number one or nothing at all, as I recall those callow years. The “most ambitious man in Carmel”, at least, is how I felt about myself. Mostly, though, I was fascinated with the perfect technique, even above other goals. A mystery to solve.
In 1979 I actually wrote Jack Nicklaus, my all time biggest golf hero, to ask him why it was that I had such a groundbreaking day using just my hands and forearms one day. Everybody’s books about golf in the 70’s were discouraging use of the hands. I thought I might be on to something. I had no business interrupting his life with such a matter, but he responded, personally, to me. He also devoted a year to the hands in his Golf Digest instructional’s, then, I recall. In 1981, at Baltusrol, he got back his core driven swing and was out of his slump. I recall that Jack Grout, Jack’s life long teacher, said to him in between this; “Too handsy” I feel responsible for all that, I’m afraid.
In 1980 a political event devastated the world and especially me, apparently. I sold my belongings and took off to San Diego on a 12 speed bicycle and just basically listened to The Beatles on my Sony Walkman for a year. A visit to the library a year later resulted in a life changing event that plucked me from golf and threw me into the frying pan of high stakes politics / journalism / activism. Government bold print codes that I discovered in three major magazines gave me no choice but to take up the cause. I’ll refrain from saying just what but some of you older readers can probably “Imagine” what I found. Thirty eight years later I am starting all over with golf.
I suppose this book recognizes that it is, indeed, the core, after all, that powers the body in a correct swing and that my experience with the hands doing all the work that day was really just the fact that I applied a little firmer hand pressure on the club that day due to other frustrations in my life then. (A blown motor, I learned, that day) A firmer, less flimsy, grip – grabbing the bull more by the horns – united the rest of my body is what I think happened, now. That is a point I go into in this book. You have to have a somewhat firmish grip at address to swing properly. Now I think I have the big picture figured out enough to write a valuable book on the subject of golf technique. Groundbreaking, in fact, or I wouldn’t even try. I tried several times in the past several years to write this book, always starting over because I learned things I couldn’t have imagined before actually trying to put it down on paper. I think I have finally achieved the clarity I need to write this book. If it gets me to scratch at 66 years of age from what I learned writing it I’ll be happy. The idea is to, in a sense, do what Alex Morrison did then; put golfer’s in touch with the abstract correctness that IS good technique. Ben Hogan once said; “…When one first attempts to hit a golf ball he will want to engage every natural instinct to do so, but it will be all wrong, absolutely wrong. Do the exact reverse, the opposite of what your instincts tell you and you might come close to being correct with technique…” or words to that effect. He included that most beginners use the upper body too early, especially the right arm and shoulder. In contrast, in a proper swing, the shoulders and upper body are applied very last; the opposite of our instincts. One of my favorite thoughts that works is to hold onto one’s shoulder coil into the downswing. Kenny Perry of senior tour fame has a move at the top that exemplifies this. He swings to the top and, before starting down, he goes one more time to the top allowing his lower body to get into position before unwinding his shoulders late in the downswing.
I say put your mind on the shoulders – the point farthest away from the ball at address – whereas most will want to use the closest thing, the hands, for example. Focus on use of this area to power the rest of the swing makes all the difference. I’m convinced of it’s merit. It’s been a constant my whole life and has always proved itself over time.
This brings me to the subject of what I said earlier about solving a geometry puzzle, once, and how it all relates to my approach to technique; My first month in a geometry course in high school I stumbled onto the solution to an age old problem; trisecting and angle with just a compass and straightedge. After learning the very basics I found that when one tried to use the same technique to trisect a line segment on an arc segment you get a bias in the result; small, medium and large sections. I immediately decided to simply reverse the bias to the other side and I got four instead of two points on the arc. I then bisected each pair of points and, viola!, I solved the problem right away in a classic case of beginners’ luck. Acute and obtuse angles, it didn’t matter. When I showed my teacher he remarked I’d be world famous if I could explain the math I used to get there. No math – common sense. Someone else got formal credit several years later I heard over the radio when Paul Harvey reported the news. The same solution I used years before. I was only 17 then and I instinctively solved a centuries old puzzle in twenty minutes time making no false guesses in between. Like my first ever round of golf, kind of boring, it seemed to me.
You may ask, then, did I imagine the dynamics of a child’s swing set to solve the mystery of the golf swing or vice versa? In fact, the comparison came to me after I first came up with a shoulder controlled action. That it was exactly compatible to a swing set with a single moving joint at the top – even down to a pair of angled legs to support it like a human body – was a little surprising when it all hit me, I’ll admit. But that’s how I came to that insight, and only just recently.
This book, while far easier to understand than physics and fulcrums and such, is still an involved, descriptive journey through what a swing is. At a subconscious level I think you must understand exactly what happens and why in a swing before you can go about tackling it. There’s no way you can think of all of it or even more than three percent of it all at any given time. It’s a little cerebral, I’ll admit. I have laid it out as straightforward as I know how. I offer techniques to take your mind off of the myriad things that must happen and give you mental tricks that trigger the right moves almost automatically. The pros think about every aspect of their swing and work on every body part as needed. There is no “one size fits all” or “secret” “fix all” simple solution to something as enigmatic, complex and misunderstood, to begin with, as the golf swing.
THE BASICS; GRIP, STANCE AND SETUP;
The proper stance and grip is the most important part of the swing, excluding impact. The entire rest of technique utterly depends on this to be correct lest it all fail, entirely. A perfect stance and grip feels exquisite in it’s poise and position and balance. As if you are looking down a rifle scope it should give you such confidence. If you look down and notice that your grip is blocking your view of your left instep, you’re on the right track. If you do not you need to be educated. There is a reverse “K” to a setup versus a “Y” setup you must understand. There is a slight leaning away from the target with the spine besides it’s leaning forward to address the ball as well as a slight forward positioning of the hips and a little angling towards the target with the knees. While the left arm is reasonably straight, the right arm is bent slightly and droops back from square a little to offset the bias of the right hand being on top of the left hand.
Regarding grip, I use the standard tour grip, the one taught almost universally. I prefer the interlock style and I like a slightly weak grip versus a strong grip to encourage a full release to finish with everything working full tilt.
I will go into the details of grip and stance but let me stress, from the start, you have to have a little “squeeze” to your grip pressure at address. Not too gentle or tepid, but firm enough to glue the club to your body and instill a feeling of control over the club before you even swing it. You don’t want to go much past a 40 percent pressure (100 being your full strength) but using a 10 or 20 percent pressure is just not enough to unite the club with the body dynamics. There are exceptions such as soft shots and lob shots and putts and such but, with all full shots, I recommend a 30 to 40 percent squeeze from the start. Through impact you probably want to be squeezing even more than you were at address. You can’t swing a club faster than you can hold on to it, anyway. When Sam Snead made the remark about holding a club like you would a bird he, no doubt, meant a bird wriggling to free himself. Some firmness. Both Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson write about this very matter. I also think this is a way to help prevent hand injuries, being assertive versus defensive…..(details on the grip and stance to be inserted later.)
Beginner Basics – A STEADY HEAD and a Straight Left Arm;
For the benefit of all, including those new to the game who need a little of the basics explained, allow me.
Before I start, while in agreement with the concept of having a straight left arm, I don’t adhere to a rigid or tense left arm, ever, and actually have a little bend at address I urge you to experiment with. I find a little bend at address frees up the shoulders so they can coil more easily.
There is some benefit to a rigid, straight left arm, however. If the relaxed left arm style is difficult for you try it, anyway, but straighten it at the last second before your take away to minimalize tension. Nicklaus and Dustin Johnson do this. A last second adjustment. Now, onto the basics;
You hit a standing still ball from the ground swinging through it from a sideways stance at address with all your joints lined up to the target. You flex your legs a little. With a straight back, you lean a little from the waist to face the ball without cramping or reaching for it. Your arms hang naturally. You play it a little forward in your stance along with your grip, and you, with your shoulders, swing the club away from the back of the ball to the top of your backswing over your shoulders so that the shaft aims to the target before you start down. The low point in a swing is just after impact (driver excepted) and any divots should be taken after the ball and directed to the target. You add a back and forth weight shift, especially back to your target for the downswing. You swing wide to the top and wide to the finish and you do ALL OF THIS with a STEADY HEAD until after the ball is on it’s way. It must stay in one general area, along with your shoulders, to steady everything and create club speed. If you wobble around with your head more than a few inches you rob the swing of it’s centrifugal force and lose power and accuracy. Try spinning a weight on a string and notice how much better the swing happens when you keep that tiny circle you make with your fingers small and steady versus roaming even a little. Same principle. A steady head is a bedrock fundamental. It may move a few inches, only, away from the target to start your swing – in fact it almost HAS to move one inch – but only a few inches. It may then move an inch back towards the target as you start down. Keep it to that one inch, though. The worst thing you can do is move your head forward in the downswing. Don’t lower or raise – bob up and down – with your head. It may, however, move up and forward at the very finish to ease your back. Finally, use a straight left arm to start the swing until well after impact at which point it folds as you finish. Keeping a straight left arm just eliminates one variable – a bend in that arm that isn’t necessary.
Beyond those basics it’s a matter of practice and balance and, if I may twist your arm a little, getting a pro to give you guidance earlier than later in your search for a good game.
The Core Driven Golf Swing;
This technique of harnessing the sensation in your shoulders you experience in your fingers when spinning a weight on a string is key to this whole book. It reduces golf to it’s simplest equation and it so happens to be the best way to swing a club, in my humble opinion. By constantly tugging against the weighted object – the club – at all times just ahead of it’s opposite position, in fact, with your body mass you create a direction and centrifugal force. So how does one transmit this to the shoulders?
Let’s say the club is at the top and you want to propel it back through impact to the finish. Already your weight is over your right leg and body parts have been pulled away from the target like your left leg and your entire left side, shoulder and back muscles as well as your arms and club.The weighted object – the club – is above your shoulders and even your head. The opposite position would be to crank with your shoulders down, at first, slightly ahead of that opposite point. This means that if the position of the club at the top is, say, at 11;00 O’clock (when facing golfer) the opposite position is therefor 5:00 O’ clock. Just ahead of that is the 4:00 O’clock position you should be leveraging from with your shoulder tension on the club. Your lower body gets into position to support your shoulder’s need to apply leverage. The left leg and hip wing out towards the target at first as you also lower your weight to stretch away from the club position above your shoulders. You then maintain this lead ahead of the opposite point of the club throughout until after release making sure to accelerate the rotation of the shoulders as you power through impact all the way to the finish. The leverage to do this starts from the feet upwards through the rest of the body and finally to the shoulders. The opening up of the body to face the target – the uncoiling – starts low and maintains a lead over the upper body which stays cocked back longer, along with the club, saving it’s force for impact. The lower body provides the weight transfer and torque and transmits this into the shoulders. That’s it, in a nutshell. Pretty straightforward. The trick is to get your mind on your shoulders to do this simple task. Once mastered the lower body shuttles dynamically into it’s various stations the stress loads distributed to various pressure points and the weight shift to the target happening all as it should.
How the body produces power is like wringing water out of a towel; For example; The backswing starts from the shoulders, down, while the downswing starts from the feet upwards. The combination of the two, as the twisting is compressed in the process, wrings water out of the towel. The sharp coil back beginning in the shoulders coils the body up to a point. As the downswing starts and the lower body starts opening ahead of the shoulders this tightens the coil already made even further. Add to this the weight transfer to the target and the stresses become so severe that the wrists cock as the the downswing begins to give the body some slack to move target wards with, in fact. The right elbows socks to the right side ahead of the hands as the centrifugal forces are harnessed. As the direction changes the slack that allowed your hands to hang below a straight line from your shoulders at address straightens under tension. This causes the hands to allow the club to fall flatter behind them slightly so as not to come from an outside in path but, rather, an inside to square path. In mid downswing the compression of the body is such that it can only release that pent up power and sling the club past the body and through the ball. After release the shoulders catch up to and pass the hips and feet rotating about 250 degrees from top to finish positions. The hips half of that. So you can sense how the feet grab the ground for the purpose of rotating the shoulders, ultimately, more than any other body part, both away from and to the target. That the feet, hips and spine transmit the sensation of swinging a weight on a string and put that feeling in the shoulders is the trick. Add the all important shifting of weight and you pack quite a punch, indeed. Once mastered the weight shift and body sequence, as I’ve said, takes care of itself.
Let’s start by explaining WHAT takes place in a swing in this regard; From address; Using leverage starting in the feet, girding through the rest of the body upwards, the shoulders move ahead of everything except the club, which they keep pace with, coiling deep and sharp to gather as much range of motion as they can before the club reaches it’s top position. There is a feeling of the left shoulder doing down and under and back while the arms extend at the same time. The wrists progressively cock but not more than the shoulders do. This is important that hands don’t get out of balance with the shoulders. The hips and knees below resist this coil of the shoulders to the top trying to be ready for a powerful downswing. Nothing too extreme, but they resist and lag behind the shoulder coil. Now you should arrive at the top with the shoulders coiled about 90 to 100 degrees, from address in a full swing, and the hips about half of that, the knees even less. The wrists need not cock more than 90 degrees to the top. The shifting of the extended arms and club away from the target has automatically shifted weight to your right leg. The charge back is from the feet upwards. The shoulders want to mimic the finger action of swinging a weight on a string and want leverage to be applied just so to get the club moving back to the target – just ahead of the opposite tug of the club weight. They grab leverage up through the body from the feet which grab their leverage from the ground. From the top, with the club at about 11:00 O’clock (facing golfer), that point would be a cog on about the 4:00 O’clock position of the shoulder region. How do you supply the proper leverage for that? The knees flex to allow weight to both drop and shift target wards a little at the same time. (Towards the 4:00 O’clock position) Down and forward. The head and shoulders stay in one place. The bottom of the spine, left knee and thigh wing target wards a little while the weight is still over the right leg and get into position to catch the weight of the downswing through impact which lands on the left leg. This opens up the lower body and shifts weight and tightens the overall body coil. Meanwhile, this change of direction takes a little time upstairs and the shoulders lag behind this lower body uncoiling. Think of how a “Slinky” (a coiled steel toy from the 60’s) moves when going down some stairs; the top of the spring falls first to the step below and the tension eventually pulls the bottom of the Slinky down on top of it. There is this stretching effect on the upper body caused by the advance moves of the lower body. As the lower body gets ahead and into position to give the shoulders the leverage and tension to swing the outer circle with that smaller inner circle of rotation, they do just that, progressively, ever changing, depending on the position of the club weight. By impact the imaginary cog in the shoulders is at 12 or even 11 O;clock actively pulling ahead of the opposite position of the club weight. It’s why you experience the left shoulder going up while the right shoulder is going down, both square, through impact. After release and the ball is on it’s way the club catches up to the body coil and passes it and all you can do at that point is bring the swing to a stop at the finish. Their rotation forward having been saved for last, the shoulders seem to uncoil most after impact, in fact, so much momentum has been created.
Looking at slow motion film you will notice that the shoulder rotation, as well as the speed of the hands and arms and even the hips slows a little through impact. This is anything but deliberate. This has to do with an exchange of momentum, weight and energy as the club gets the energy, instead. The mind focus is to accelerate the shoulders progressively from top to finish. That the now heavy weight of the club, now catching up to and passing the arms, slows everything else down a little to catch it’s speed should not change your mind focus of acceleration, always. Like a catapult that is sluggish the first millisecond of release just absorbing the weight of the stone, it’s still trying, all out, to launch. Don’t let the camera confuse you. Coil, then uncoil, fully, all the way to finish, always, no deceleration. Applying leverage constantly, uncoiling constantly.
There are many of you who will have to learn what proper weight shifting feels like before it comes naturally to you in response to the mind’s focus on the shoulders. David Lee’s “Gravity Golf” tapes describe it a little like this; At address, using the shoulders to start back, a neutral weight distribution is interrupted by a shift to the right hip socket to the top position whereupon your hips and lower body shift target wards – a counter fall – landing weight on your front foot during impact and beyond. A mini drill to help get this concept is to hit small wedge shots and lifting the front foot momentarily off the ground at the top and then lifting the back foot off the ground at the finish. There is a transfer from neutral at address to the back foot at the top to the front foot before impact and beyond. Not unlike the way a swing set’s A frame legs want to rock back and forth under the weight of the swinging object. Adding the proper coil to team up with this back and forth / up and down, even rotational weight shifting is what makes a golf swing. As much as a weight shift can feel back and forth it can also feel very up and down at the same time. I, for example, sometimes feel as though I am dropping the weight of a house on top of the ball from the top through impact.
While discussing swinging in a swing set, you will observe that to swing forcefully you stretch your legs way out and eventually lean back to move forward and you tuck your legs backwards and lean forward to move backwards. In essence you have re directed your center of mass. In each instance you wait until the swing has momentarily stopped and from there you keep the pressure on, even increasing the pressure. You’ll notice how it was that you transferred body mass forward with the legs to go forward and you pulled them towards your rear to go backwards. Similarly, in a golf swing, one re positions body mass and parts to do the same thing with the club. The center of rotation – the shoulders – coil and uncoil in place. It is up to the rest of the body, therefor, to move weight around. From the ground up you both open up to the target and transfer weight at the same time. Like the pendulum on a Grandfather clock, the bottom of the spine swings a little in a swing – about an inch or two back and about a foot or more forward from the top to finish. This tiny amount of travel moves a lot of weight, though, and you only have to move the center of your mass a little to have a large effect. The center of mass being in your stomach / hip region, you use your legs to do this. This center of mass dances with the center of rotation, each complimenting the other. From the top you have most of your weight on the right leg and hip. The lower spine then shifts a little target wards and your left knee and thigh does, too, while still supported with the right leg. Once the body mass has been re positioned a cascading effect takes over building momentum on that prompt. By mid downswing, the club opposite the target, you transfer hip, leg and body mass opposite that tug and towards the target and it is this junction where you move to the target most. Mostly just the lower body has gone forward while your head and shoulders stay steady. Now you are ready to get off of your back leg and onto your front leg – a transference of weight. Through impact, the club tugging away from the shoulders and downward into the ball, you push away from that tug with your legs against the ground, mostly on your left leg allowing the club to overtake the hands and shoulders and release all the way to the finish, your weight now almost completely just on your front leg.
Mike Austin, mentioned earlier, a relatively unsung long ball hitter from the 40’s had as perfect a swing as I’ve ever seen. It was smooth, graceful and poetic for all it’s horsepower. Somewhere between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopff. Stop action photos reveal that his lower spine has shifted over a foot from top to impact. You have to be fit and strong to do this, – I recommend more caution – but he really shifted weight around. His swing was also recognizable from his hand lead through the ball indicating his hands were accelerating during impact, as well. More than any other golfer, Mike saved his mighty ‘swoosh!!’ for well after impact. I showcase his swing along with Nicklaus and Sam Snead in this book, in fact.( A word of caution; You don’t want to shift your hips out ahead of your left knee, ever, or allow the left leg to straighten, or “bottom out” before the finish position, if at all. It’s unnecessary and unhealthy.)
A technique I used to use (I actually ran a golf shop for a few years and gave lessons) is to have one stand with a very narrow stance, the ball played well forward. Then I ask the golfer to make a backswing and, from the top, step towards the target by a foot with the left foot to start the downswing. A stepping into the shot that transfers weight from back to front the way a pitcher stretches his lead leg out before planting it to throw a pitch. There is a definite shift to the target that starts at the beginning of the downswing that, literally, shifts the entire arc of the club a foot or more target wards compared to it’s path back to the top. This gives the shot the punch and power it really needs; a coil and uncoil accompanied by a weight transfer, especially from the top, target wards, to impact, all the way to the finish.
Gathering the sense of swinging the club from your shoulders and having them behave like your fingers do when spinning a weight on a string and having all this happen automatically is something you must learn to do. One way I like to teach this is to, with your mind, isolate just the shoulders and swing the club just thinking about giving them all the rotation in both directions you can and forgetting about all other body parts. (Imagine swinging while sitting on a bar stool with your feet on the ground – allowing your seat to swivel a little – if that helps.) Make sure to keep your arms extended, going deep to the top and keeping them wide throughout. Like someone pushing your left shoulder down and under and back and then the right shoulder down and under and through to the other side. Like a big gear, sluggish at first, the shoulders move first away and then change directions back to the target. A smooth, steady, constant and always accelerating sensation, especially through impact and beyond, is what you’re after. Range of motion is more important than speed. By imagining the shoulder rotation at it’s fastest through impact you help in achieving the proper dynamic. Effortless power happens automatically. Through the shoulders you sense where the club weight – or counter weight – is at all times and maintain a tension just ahead of the opposite position of the club creating centrifugal force. Eventually you will get that feeling in your shoulders you experience with your fingers spinning a weight on a string.
Architecture and Accuracy; Or The Geometry of Accuracy;
Perhaps the biggest influence on accuracy is foot alignment. Because so much weight is transferred back and forth between these two points the club naturally wants to follow this dynamic of weight travel. It’s also why almost all of your joints should track to the target at address. They are positioned to move the club along that basic path. It’s the reason you aim left for a fade and slightly open the face and make a normal swing or vice versa for a draw aiming right and slightly closing the face at address. Your club will want to follow the alignment of the rest of your body at address.
The other matter is to swing exactly 90 degrees into the ball. Not outside in or inside out but perfectly square, perfectly sideways to your stance. Think of a door on a hinge slamming shut flush at 90 degrees. It comes from inside and achieves target direction only through impact and then goes back inside after impact. Combine this image with that of a pin ball plunger that goes straight back and through. Somewhere between these two concepts correct geometry occurs. I like to swing between the foot and ball target lines, generally, and let instinct decide exactly just how. The club goes from ball line (Address) to foot line (The top) back to ball line (Impact) and back to foot line (Finish). Keep the shaft swinging along the target line, generally, throughout.
Another image is to break through an imaginary glass wall that exists at the ball position line like a giant driver face aimed at the target. Yer another is the image I learned as a child; that of hitting an imaginary nail sticking half way out of the back of the ball so that impact drives it straight through without bending it inward (Like a slice) or outward (Like a draw).
To make sure he always swung square Sam Snead made sure not to let his front foot open up to the target but, rather, used a slightly closed stance. Square is the most powerful way to play golf. It’s also the most effortless way, too.
I recommend a single, blended motion to the top that finds the wrist cock occurring gradually from the start so that full wrist cock and shoulder coil occur at the same time and that the move simulate the act of SLINGING a bag of laundry over your shoulder with wide arms and the collar bones rotating so the laundry bag arrives high over your shoulder blades and aimed to the target. Rather than letting it fall onto your back you, after a very slight pause at the top to hold onto that shoulder coil thus allowing the lower body to slot into position, drop the club with all your body mass and weight into the back of the ball, instead. This imagery of slinging a weighted bag over your shoulder blades serves to turn your back to the target earlier than usual and adds power to your swing. My best thought for performing all of this is to imagine that my upper torso, only, rotates to the top, the lower torso just stays still. You coil this region up against a docile lower torso and lower body. You will find you have to coil more than usual with the shoulders to arrive square at the top.
I was watching a television host analyze a current star player’s swing recently and his description of a “three lever system” fit my philosophy perfectly; One lever is the club, a second lever the left arm and the third lever is the left collar bone. They all rotate together. Most golfers fail to rotate the collar bones, the very bones that offer the most dynamic power of all. If you can swing exactly square to your stance and do all this, effortless power occurs automatically.
So far I’ve discussed mostly your body and core. The rest of the swing involves the arms, hands and club. How they operate is of paramount importance, especially where accuracy is concerned.
If you study the world’s top players you’ll notice a no nonsense path in their swings. First of all, they stand exactly sideways to their target; feet hips and shoulders, the right arm drooping just back from square a little. They lean back with their spine slightly as well. From address the club head is over the ball target line, then to over the foot target line at the top, back to the ball line at impact and back, again, to the foot line for the finish. All the while the shaft of the club stays as aligned with the target as it can throughout. Great players have a habit of finding their shaft pointing to the target whenever it is parallel to the ground, in fact – one third back, the top, half way down, halfway through. In all these stations the shaft is aimed to the target. The finish involves an extra rotation of the right foot and doesn’t necessarily apply. Swing the shaft along the target line, in general, and accuracy has a way of just happening all by itself. There is a lot more to it than just that, but that, alone, is all important. There is the matter of hand and wrist articulation of the club – do you fan open the club or hood it closed or do you just hold on and swing with the shoulders? I recommend the latter. Still, one must break a target aligned angle with the club early in the backswing but not much more than that.
There is a little natural fanning; an opening and closing of the face going back and through. This is allowed as physics wants to make this happen. The toe gets heavy with momentum and wants to open after halfway to the top and stays like a comet’s tail behind the hosel laying flat against the swing plane almost all the way to impact whereupon it slaps from open to square (impact) to closed, right after. All this AS impact is occurring – a 180 rotation from 90 degrees open to 90 degrees shut after impact of the face. Depending, this takes place in just a matter of three to several feet of club travel. This, the release, is a dramatic, full bored application of all available levers and, boy, do the levers apply themselves in this brief interval. That little “L” shaped lever of a club head at the bottom, that some overlook, entirely, is the last lever to apply itself, transferring extra “mass” (club weight) as it does so.. Momentum assists this natural delivery of opening and slamming the face shut, automatically. If you find your forearms rotating a little clockwise going back and a little counter-clockwise going through it’s mostly because the weight of the toe wants to swing it open and then closed all by itself. Another reason the face rolls on it’s side half way back is because your left arm is joined by your right arm that is now bending and anatomy exerts it’s influence. A good check is to make sure that the club head is not quite yet vertical (facing straight up) until after the shaft has passed the horizontal position going back. If it opens up sooner you’re over manipulating things. If is stays hooded beyond that you’re manipulating the other way. At the top position a driver face should align with the angle of your left arm or on the club to the ball line. Swing with the shoulders and treat the club head as if it were nitro-glycerin. Try not to disturb it too much with the hands and let it swing itself using momentum to open and close the face. You may feel the need for SOME hand flair to feel the club head more, but keep it to a modest level. So many things happen to swing in a golf swing; the club head around the shaft connection, the lower spine from the top. Let all of it happen by itself under the force of physics.
When you see certain swings that mute this rotation it is to keep the club aimed target wards a little longer through impact. I advise letting physics take over and allow the natural 90 degree opening and closing on both sides of the ball of the club to occur. No more than that, though. The overall feeling is a neutral feeling. Besides shaft direction the hands and arms control the club face in this regard. As they fold and roll so does the club head and club face.
The other function of the hands involves creating and releasing an angle with the club shaft. Power becomes multiplied and punctuated in this process. At address there is no angle. One third back the club starts to cock via it’s own momentum. Gradually the club is cocked at 90 degrees as your shoulder coil reaches it’s maximum. As you start back down, from the ground up, the tension throughout the body is so intense your wrists automatically cock a little more than they were at the top to give you enough slack to make a move to the target to begin a shift left. Mid way down the tension in your swing is at it’s greatest and must now release, fully, to the target. After your hands are below your hips the severe angle of your club starts to release to catch up with the rest of the swing. You don’t want this to happen until you are near impact. As stated earlier, the club face goes from 90 degrees laid back to square to 90 degrees folded over shut after impact and the shaft is passing the arms just after impact as they are both straight. Only the club out paces the shoulders to the finish.
That’s mostly what the hands and wrist do. That and to hold on with enough force to swing the club forcefully. “Do you hit a ball using your hands or is it all just the shoulders?” So long as the shoulders are applied equally, so long as the hands don’t over rule the shoulders or do more than the shoulders, you can certainly use your hands to hit the ball. The way one skips a stone across the water. Golf is actually a somewhat natural act and the TRICK IS to use your shoulders at least as much as your hands. Beyond this natural athletic urge the hands mostly hang on for dear life while the body supplies most of the power. When I’m at my best it’s a feeling of the hands ALLOWING maximum efficiency to occur and never a hitting independently with the hands. In truth the hit is a combination of body and hands, together. Mostly the body. On certain shots like a lob wedge where you want to deliver the clubhead already past the hands for impact you may have to throw a little more and a little sooner with the hands than other shots. The hands CONTRIBUTE a hit, I think it would be fair to say. Certainly the hands allow clubhead speed to occur and have a vital role.
Along this same subject, I ran into Jack Nicklaus last 2018 at Pebble Beach (He was watching his grandson, I think, compete in the U.S. Amateur) I told him about my book and I remember describing the gist of it by wrenching my hips to describe what force powers the club through the ball. A wrenching of the core and whole body from feet to shoulders and not so much the hands. The hips, legs and back muscles are so much more powerful, the hands are full mostly just administering the power provided to them.
Before anything, for accuracy, make sure you coil your shoulders in alignment with the target – evenly straight back to the top and straight through to the finish. They move the arms and club and must be aligned as well. The old image of sticking a pig with a spear tip going back and again on the other side of the ball is a good image, actually. (the object being somewhere between the ball and foot target lines.) You want to reach back and reach through in the same general direction – oriented to the target – and you want to extend the arms a little outwards as the shoulders sharply gather coil to the top. One reason your wrists cock going back, in fact, is to keep your weight from shifting too far to the right and knocking you off balance. You can coil up a lot more than you may think between address and the top position. Imagine your spine is a large screw leaning over a little to address the ball. Your shoulders represent the screw head at the top aligned 90 degrees from the screw. You turn your shoulders just like that screw head. You want to rotate the left shoulder tip to where the right shoulder tip was at address to the top. (If you were that supple). Going down to the finish you want your right shoulder tip to cross where your left shoulder was at address, all in alignment with the target. During impact it can feel like the right shoulder is going down and under the rising left shoulder. A shoulder turn should feel more vertical than horizontal. Except for that little swinging action the lower spine makes to shift weight you don’t want to otherwise disturb your spine angle until the very finish when you stand up straight a little.
As for swinging on an inclined plane, it’s a fact of life. I mentioned earlier how one swings the club from the ball line to the foot line and back to the ball line at impact and back to the foot line for the finish. I didn’t say from the ball line to the ball line to the ball line and back to the ball line. If you tried to do that you’d fall forward and fall flat on your face. You have to swing around wherever your center of gravity happens to be. So long as the shaft aligns to the target as much as possible throughout and you don’t over manipulate the club with the hands, you’ve done all you can to assure accuracy.
After the year 2000 I have noticed a trend on the tour to arrive at the top position a little laid off. It’s a little less universal, now, thankfully, and I’d like to offer my opinion of why this trend emerged to begin with. You often see pros practice with an alignment stick out near their ball position. That was the problem. It should be between the ball and the feet, instead, I think. When you fixate on just the ball line your club shaft wants to trace it to the top. The result leaves your shaft’s butt end aimed at that ball line at the top leaving the shaft laid off aimed a little left of the target. By fixating on a line between the ball and feet – where your hands actually operate from – you keep things squarer and more target oriented. Now they cock the club square instead of laid off.
Jack Nicklaus used to point the shaft to the target or slightly right of the target and his swing looked completely neutral in it’s lack of manipulation anywhere. I prefer that look in a swing. You pack more punch swinging from inside to square than any other method. That’s where your center of mass is.
A shot putter, in his effort to exert as much torque as possible in his throw, uses probably a bigger slice of a circle than just the top half circle the golf stance represents at the nine and three O’clock positions. In his shuffling dance he probably uses the top two thirds of the circle from the 4:30 to 7:30 positions, instead. Beyond that he would lose effectiveness but he does get a little more leverage using more of the circle. The problem is your feet are glued to the ground by gravity and body weight. So how do you get more foot leverage to shift and coil with? You use your hips sockets to go where you’d like your feet to go. The hips go to about 45 degrees open to the top and to about 45 degrees closed past the target line by impact as they are open ahead of the square shoulders then. In this respect the hip range in a full swing TO IMPACT is really from the half open position to the top to all the way back to half closed position during impact.. A lot more than just using three to nine positions.
I find it interesting that this 45 degree open to 45 degree closed parameter in a golf swing is the top and impact positions; the hips are open at the top about exactly as much as they are closed at impact, between 40 and 45 degrees from level on both sides. By the finish the hips travel even more. A useful practice regimen to illustrate the importance of just this simple leverage package is to exert one against the other. In a full swing just think about achieving that 45 degree coil away from the target with the hips and land hard at impact on the exact opposite 45 degree hip angle which is now closed towards the target. Combined, the hip angles make a 90 degree “X” that straddles the target line. The idea is to leverage one against the other. Just think 45 degrees open with hips to top, 45 degrees closed with hips through impact landing hard forward against the back coil. This gives the feet the sensation of coiling up more than they otherwise could. It illustrates how torque is created. Make sure you extend back and forwards with your arms on both sides of the ball to grab even more torque.
Even if you just think of a 45 degree turn away to the top against a 45 degree turn to the target at impact, in general, you will find how easy it is to wrench power out of these two positions. And that’s only tapping half of your torque potential. Remember, when doing this drill, to go through impact with square shoulders at the same time. The hips are open ahead of them.
I mentioned Alex Morrison’s book “A New Way To Better Golf” and how he taught me the importance of putting your back into the swing; the value of turning it away from the target to the top to be able to then use it for leverage through the ball, later. I also mentioned the sequence forward being a bottom up transfer of leverage, feet and knees first, finally to the shoulders arms and club which are applied last. All the tour pros do this so it must be for a reason. I argue that most golfers have a problem achieving this dynamic sequence because they never get the back and shoulders cocked back behind the lower body in the first place. In conventional golf lingo it’s called ‘”X” Factor’; the differential created between your hips and shoulders to the top. Tiger Woods has a severe differential turning his shoulders more than twice his, by contrast, restrained hips. I suppose his shoulders are at 100 degrees to his hips at only about 35 degrees. More than I recommend unless you have a fitness regimen and are physically very strong. Nicklaus, more muscle bound and thicker throughout, had to allow his hips to turn about 45 degrees and even let his front foot lift a little. No two people are exactly alike. While on the subject, who can argue that it is Tiger’s shoulder and back region as well as his arms which are the most developed parts of his physique? It would seem he uses those muscles most in his golf swing.
The point is, top players achieve about a 2 to 1 ratio between shoulders and hips to the top. Once at the top it would seem you could just freeze everything in it’s relative place all the way to past impact and achieve the pro sequence down. To a degree that is true. Past impact the swing and arms and club fold over to the target side, but until impact, you want to basically stay in place with your hips open more than the shoulders and club all the way to past impact. You also want to keep the club shaft cocked and the arms held back the first half of the downswing. There is some flexing of the knees to drop weight involved initially, a pitching in with the right shoulder ahead of the hands, a shuttle to the target with the legs in mid downswing, a landing on the left leg before impact and a pushing off of your back leg and a full rotation and release past impact all the way to finish at which point everything is reversed. Now the club and shoulders have caught up with and past the legs and hips to the finish. Until practically impact, however, you basically keep the “X” factor intact with the shoulders held back behind the hips.
Make sure to get the shoulders and back muscles cocked behind the lower body to the top from the start so that this process is easy to accomplish. I said earlier that one can coil more to the top than he may think. Think of winding the shoulders up TWICE to the top compared to what you normally do and you get the idea. Go for it. Crank deep and early with the shoulders AND extend the arms out a little all the way to the top. Make sure you coil your shoulders for all they’re worth before the club reaches the top. You don’t want the hands to outpace the shoulders back. From this position at the top it’s hard NOT to sequence properly down and through. Turn away more to turn through more. Now that the shoulders are involved as well we’re talking torque. It almost requires an act of faith to trust a deep coil and extended arms to play golf. It’s not instinctive, like Hogan said, but it’s pure magic in real life application.
Unlike the hips which only benefit from using a little more room to grip the ground with, the shoulders can have a little more freedom to coil fully;100 degrees to the top position to a 250 degree forward rotation. 100 degrees to top, more than twice that forward. The shoulders also coil more vertically than the hips do due to the forward lean at address.
The backswing starts winding up with the shoulders, first, the hips second and the feet last. The downswing starts from the feet first, the knees and hips second and the shoulders, arms and club last, everything in that order. Add width, a proper weight shift and add a properly cocking and un cocking of the club shaft and all the above adds up to mind blowing power. The arms and club are delivered last of everything. It’s a powerful package.
When I was younger a toy helicopter blade on a stick was popular. You made it fly by putting the stick between your palms and spinning it one way and then hard the other way to launch it spinning high into the air. A golf swing has a lot of this principle in it as well.
A word about physical limitations and the Core Driven Golf Swing technique. Certainly the young and fit who are not too overweight will have an easier time of this technique than those who are not active or fit or otherwise optimally equipped for using this method. The good news is you can still use the principles up to your limitations until the method actually starts to free your body up more and more with time. Think of this technique as a fitness regimen, in fact, to limber you up and stretch out your big muscles. You’ll probably get fitter just from this new method of swinging that enlists ALL of your body, from the inside out. This method is only “good medicine” for every golfer. By coiling more and extending out with the club and arms less effort is needed for power. Tempo and timing, instead, starts to work for you. If your chest muscles or back muscles don’t go past 80 degrees to the top you still apply the principles in limited doses. Eventually you’ll get more range of motion. Even if your weight ratio is good, if your legs aren’t conditioned and fit, golf is harder than it should be. How can you push up hard with your legs at impact to create centrifugal force if they’re not strong? Get strong and stay strong and limber. Your whole body should be toned, if not for golf, for life, generally. Life’s more fun when you’re fit. Once you are fit your swing has a whole new and better look to it. Golf should keep one fit, anyway. Isn’t that one of the reasons sports are good for us?
A word, too, about less than full swings; Do you also coil deep with the shoulders on small lob shots or chip shot and putts, even? Very, very good question. Actually, yes, you do. I have noticed how much Jack Nicklaus, for example, rocks his shoulders on even a one foot put. It all starts below the neck between the shoulders, a deep and early coil, regardless of the size of the shot. If you change your routine you’ll start to let bad habits sneak into your technique without knowing it. You want to avoid ever just slapping your arms back and forth across an inactive core. Power, regardless, starts from the center of your shoulders. Once you learn how you’ll be amazed at how much better your lob shots and short shots and putts get.
BODY PARTS AND THEIR DISCIPLINE:
“Roll your feet on their insteps” “Pitch your right elbow ahead of your grip on the downswing” “Coil your shoulders as much as possible in both directions” – my favorite. “Start the swing deliberately and build momentum gradually.” “Save your best speed for impact to finish.” “Stretch out with the arms and club.” “Get off your back foot and onto your front foot before impact.”
There is a lot to keep track of besides just understanding the “Why” of a swing. Making sure you are on the right path requires some monitoring of your body and it’s many parts as you blend this method into your game. Like I said earlier, even the pros put a swing together one puzzle piece at a time, sometimes, and study every boring minutia involved..This part of the book will try to cover all the bases and will offer suggestions not already explained.
You’ll need a large picture window or, even better, a friend with a cell phone camera to see what you are doing in these lessons.
The Torso and Upper Body:
Starting with the largest body parts, first, the torso and upper body; The address positions already described, there are some parameters for the spine angle. At address it is slightly leaning away from the target. Ditto at the top. The torso seems to lean slightly away from, while the thighs simultaneously seem to lean towards, the target at the top position. It’s as if the lower body is positioned for a move forward at the the same time the upper body is reaching back for leverage, away from the target. Almost like the lower body is the wood part of the slingshot while the upper body and club are the rubber band, pouch and rock, the two stretching away from each other. If the upper body leans towards the target or anything more than vertical you’ll have to adjust. At the top this puts the left arm and club to the right of your head, the left shoulder below your chin. The head, meanwhile, is rear of center in your stance, behind the ball and in front of your rear foot from address to finish. All of this puts the weight mostly on your back leg and hip. From this position you’re ready to launch and unwind. The shoulders and club are properly cocked behind the lower body.
Make sure to coil the shoulders deep and early in both directions, each respective shoulder going under the chin in a common, target aligned manner. Like they were the screw head atop a leaning screw as if it were your spine and shoulders. Clockwise to the top, counter-clockwise to the finish. At the finish you may stand up a little straighter and raise the head a little to ease the back. I discourage holding the finish for the same reason. If it happens by itself don’t linger in that position too long. Wild animals never pose when they perform athletics. There’s no need to.
The shoulders rotate somewhat vertically through impact while also square to the target, the right shoulder going down and under as the left shoulder climbs higher. To the finish the right shoulder almost points to the target if you’re young and limber. It’s not necessary, however. Nicklaus, probably to protect his back, finished with less final shoulder rotation and held his elbows almost together aimed high and somewhat forward at the finish. His maximum release already spent in mid follow through, he, perhaps, felt no need to tax his body further. Bubba Watson, another big hitter, chokes off his finish to save his back. After mid follow through automatic deceleration begins to take over, regardless. Just give it all you’ve got to past that point.
The range of motion of the hips is from square to 45 degrees back to the top to all the way back around to facing the target at finish. Roughly a rotation of 90 degrees from top through impact and another 45 degrees more to the finish. From top to finish, a 135 degree unwind.
The range of motion in the shoulders is from square at address to at least 90 degrees to the top, even 100 degrees if you can. All the way back from top to finish, another 250 to 270 degrees of unwind. So you can see how much stretching occurs from hips to shoulders in the process. All that stretching of all that muscle mass actually helps the ball travel a long way and in ways you might not appreciate. The torso – back, chest and shoulders – is the largest muscle mass of your body. Learn how to use it.
The Legs, Hips and Feet:
For most of the backswing the legs, especially the back leg, hold their ground and lean a little targetwards to offset the slight backward lean of the spine. They are preparing to transfer lower body mass towards the target and drop all your body’s weight and club into the ball through impact. You will want to restrict too much travel back with the left knee and, in fact, make sure it offers some resistance, always. Once the downswing starts it is the left knee and lower spine that move target wards first. (That resistance I just mentioned just paid off, triggering a proper body response down.) At first a slightly bow legged look is a good look (Study Sam Snead) The left knee is already charging while the right leg is still not quite ready to also angle target wards with the knee. Snead, in this famous squatting posture, knees flexed, looks like a man jumping out of an airplane suggesting he is shifting his weight almost straight down, initially. By one third down to impact the back leg also now angles wedge like towards the target along with the front leg. Here you are tugging target wards hard against the weight of the club that is opposite the target. The weight now being transferred to the front leg, you push up against the ground hard against the weight of the club going down and through while releasing the right leg and whole right side, arm and club to the target, the right foot now on it’s instep and at least off the heel of the foot. You hit off of your front leg with a big shift to the target as the club goes through. The head and shoulders stay back. After impact all counter-clockwise rotation of the hips and shoulders continues to the finish. Now your weight is solidly over your left foot’s outer edge and heel while your right foot is on it’s toe holding only some of the weight, now. The hips are facing the target at this point.
A word about the feet; While you may finish on the outside edge of your front foot at the finish try not to be too much on the outside edge until after impact. Otherwise, DO roll back and forth on your insteps, allowing the back heel to lift before impact and for the left heel to lift a little at the top, if necessary.
The Arms, Hands and Club;
( Before embarking on this chapter I must comment on the technique breakthroughs being made by the likes of Dustin Johnson, John Rahm and others who slightly or not so slightly bow their left wrist on the back side of the ball. I’ve noticed they also cup that same left wrist the opposite way after impact creating wrinkles on the upper wrist. A swinging gate type of action through the ball from bowed to cupped, the back of the left hand acting as the gate. On the back side of the ball it is bowed slightly and on the target side of the ball it is cupped the opposite way. A new wrinkle in technique. In conventional technique the wrist goes more up and down versus back and forth.
This suggest to me a hinging motion that involves less forearm rotation and more bow and cup in the wrist. This both retards excessive wrist cock and also keeps the club from coming over the plane in the downswing.
Imagine standing at address and just bowing and cupping the lead wrist. A separate hinge as if there was a pin running from the top of your wrist to the bottom, not a ball swivel type of hinge with a conventional swing. Now add to that the image of your left arm being a two by four board that keeps its face to the target longer into the back swing due to this new hinging action. That’s what I see in this new trend that is taking over the tour as we speak. A kind of one dimensional wrist slap added to the swing. I must say, having tried it out lately, I’m very intrigued, indeed. In a sense it keeps the wrist area from breaking down and separating from the rest of the swing action. You don’t need a Hoganesque amount of cock in a golf swing. This cupping that mutes wrist cock is a bonus as I see it. Meanwhile I’ll teach what I know; the standard action and allow for some experimentation with the above described technique as it is too new to give a carte blanch seal of approval.
To be specific, there should be a little bow left in your left wrist at impact, allowing it to got to neutral and then to a cupped configuration in the few feet past impact. Otherwise you will have released too soon.)
Now, on to the complex apparatus from neck to club head.
The arms stay extended, generally, folding when necessary. As the shoulders coil to the top the left arm should extend outwards a little while keeping a steady head. The club will cock up and back towards the target to keep you from swaying to your right but never ahead of the shoulder coil. The right arm, meanwhile, has started to bend at the elbow halfway back and may move away from the body a little. The right upper arm should never go past horizontal and point upwards. Otherwise avoid either cramping or flying out of the right elbow. If you extend both arms to the top, allowing for a natural fold of the right arm, as you make a deep shoulder coil nature should find you at the proper measurements.
The other matter involves arm rotation both clockwise back and counter clockwise. Don’t over do it. The first part of the backswing keep everything mostly undisturbed, the clubface opening only slightly and still looking somewhat towards the ball until the toe aims skyward halfway to the top. At the top the clubface of a DRIVER should parallel the angle of your left arm when viewed from behind.
The correct athletic use of the right arm over rides other considerations and the rest of the body must accommodate this need lest the whole movement be unnatural.
As the downswing begins and the lower body starts to charge target wards, body stresses force the club to cock a little to give the body enough slack to move left with. At the same time, and as the club and left arm tighten into a straight configuration as a centrifugal tension takes over, the right elbow socks ahead of the hands and towards your side for maximum leverage and the right elbow can feel like the center of all the action in mid downswing. In a sense it really is. I have learned that before the hands can apply the club to the ball they must first orbit around both elbows which should be positioned ahead of the hands and club. The left elbow is straight, the right elbow bent but it should feel as though they are both leading the hands to impact. From a few feet before impact to a few feet past impact the forearms and clubhead rotate 180 degrees from open to closed and then stay at that position to finish. Of course the club shaft passes the arms after impact and the club outpaces everything else to the finish. Depending on one’s own personal quirks and tendencies the finish position can vary a little. If you are athletic enough to achieve great impact requirements a full and complete finish may not be absolutely necessary, especially if it would stress your back. Otherwise, if you lack pure muscle power and rely on form to get power, you will want to rotate all the way around almost pushing your right shoulder to the target at finish. Don’t over do this, however. Pop out of whatever finish you achieve right away for your back’s sake, regardless.
As for the hands, themselves; Grip pressure is of paramount importance; Too light is not good. Too firm is not good either. 30 to 40 percent pressure is what I recommend, even a little more during impact, I’ve found helps.
The club shaft angles to the top should be gradual, starting either right away or slightly later halfway or a third back. The top position angle need not go beyond 90 degrees. Staring down the club cocks even more until your hands are below the waist when the club starts to open up to the ball and fold over into a follow through. The club and arms all form a straight alignment after impact, not before, and the club passes the hands as it is aimed right at the target. Once the club passes the hands deceleration automatically takes over. Still, though, your mind is always accelerating the club to the finish. In your mind the club is going fastest from impact to follow through.
The Club, Itself: Standing from behind, looking towards the target, a club’s path is slightly crescent shaped tracking a plane from the ball through the shoulders in both directions, the crescent dipping below the arm pits along the way. From face front the club head’s path to the top is a whole foot away from the target compared to the downswing path which shifts to the target. Like two Hoola Hoops leaning against a wall, one a foot ahead of the other, so are the two paths your club head makes in a back and downswing. Proof there is a weight shift.
As for the hands actually hitting the ball, the sensation is more of just a tightening of the grip pressure during impact if you are swinging correctly. You never want to independently use the wrists and hands to lever the club. You can still use them to lever with but only if you are using your shoulders and rest of your body at least as much, first..
Tricks For Achieving Correct Technique:
A swing lasts almost two whole seconds, start to finish. Not enough time to think of more than a few swing thoughts at a time. That’s the playing field, I’m afraid. You’ll need a lot of practice swings and shots to cover everything you need to cover in the long run. Even I cannot think of what I’m doing in a swing beyond one or two things I may be working on. The downswing is no place to be “painting by the numbers”,so to speak. So how does one go about getting into the proper swing of things without mental gymnastics?
The back swing is not where your mind should be. Your mind should be on your forward swing. True, you want to start back on the right path, coil up fully and complete a backswing and such, but you are trying to move a ball from point A to point B. That never happens in a backswing, only a forward swing. The path you made away from the ball is generally the path you want to return on but beyond that prompt think of what you must do from the top position to the finish position, only. If you practice this technique eventually you will sense a completely tension free backswing that girds taught all at once as you start down to impact and beyond. Like an arrow that is drawn back it doesn’t feel anything until the string is released. Then it is harnessed and propelled forward with powerful forces. A tension free sensation like a baseball you merely toss up in the air while you wait for it to descend enough to smash into the outfield. That’s how a backswing should feel. You still have a firmish grip on the club at all times. Once the downswing starts it’s as if the string exerts it’s pressure on the arrow and not before. The downswing then feels very much like releasing an arrow from a bow. Like a rock in the pouch of a slingshot that suddenly finds itself in the forces of a taught rubber band that is releasing. A perfect backswing has no tension until the downswing begins.
Try this drill and see how much more natural and instinctive golf suddenly becomes. Many golfers are so full of anxiety just taking the club away from address they can’t relax enough to swing properly. Until you’re ready to make a downswing you should be utterly relaxed at the top. It’s all in the downswing. The slamming shut of the door. The cracking it open is just a formality.
When I first experienced this magic technique I noticed that my entire left side and arm and club were pulled back like a bowstring once I relaxed them to begin with. My lower body was always at the ready to move forward, yet going back my relaxed club, arm and entire left side and shoulder moved to the top. From that point I began my swing and, viola!, magic took over. I was swinging like a God, suddenly. Creaming my 3 metal well over 200 yards at 66 years of age in a tight pattern. Previously I was only getting 190 yards. Instant improvement. Beyond that it just felt so effortless and pure and powerful. Give it a try. Give it a commitment, in fact.
(To be continued…)
(What is below, is research thoughts only and may or may not be part of this final draft.)
(To be continued…)
There are lots of original thoughts that I feel the golfing world would benefit from understanding and so I’ve taken up the challenge to put it all down in a book and see where it gores.
What is below is subject to a lot of change as my journey to find the best words to make the most difference in your progress is ever changing. A noteworthy day in particular last week. I had just recovered enough from a left hand finger injury and was finally good enough to hit balls and I learned a lot in just this one session. Coming off of a two month long layoff gives me fresh perspective and I nailed down at least three things that I now consider to be paramount.
Number one: In making a backswing extend your left arm and club away from your neck as you journey to the top. As if you were trying to reach through a hole in a fence to grab an apple on the other side. Not just a coil and swing of the arms but an additional extension move that activates the collar bones early and gives the swing depth and leverage. A lowering of the left shoulder and a stretching out of the arms and club. Just maintain a steady head is all. It’s a little like hooking your left shoulder onto a farther rung that requires this deliberate lengthening of the left arm as it coils to the top. The purpose of this is to get your collarbones coiling right away and grabbing all the arc you were born with using your body.
Number two: Block your left arm a little with a right arm that stays a little straighter a little longer than normally. Nicklaus embodied this move. I have found this blocks any excessive, unnecessary wrist cock or wrist roll over or cupping with the wrists and makes the swing feel much more like just pulling back a plunger and releasing to the target with minimal hand flourish. While the club wraps around to the point that the shaft is aimed to the target at the top, it feels like it is only aimed vertically while the shoulders have already made a deep turn back thanks, in part, to the extending of the arms going back and the activation of the collarbones to work early. No Ben Hogan style of complicated opening and rolling open and returning of the club but a body coil providing the horsepower, instead. Keep the shaft balanced opposite the target as it journeys to the top – aimed target wards as much as possible, throughout. – Instead of the image of a man balancing a stick vertically in his palm imagine he is balancing the stick horizontally, as if to keep it aligned to the target throughout.
Number three: The often confusing subject of coil and hips and shoulders can all be summed up in a simple, more basic concept, entirely. Imagine two basic positions of leverage, only. The first is to facilitate a backswing and this position is about 40 degrees facing away from the target line. The second position of leverage is the same 40 degrees from the target line only, this time, the opposite direction; 40 degrees open towards the target. This is the angle to achieve during the impact position, more specifically. The trick is to pit both opposite leverage positions against each other to maximize torque and leverage at impact. You open up your body, in general, as a whole, about 40 degrees away from the target to make a back swing. To make a downswing you achieve the same 40 degrees, only now towards the target, at the moment of impact. You will feel a falling of your weight land on your forward leg as well as your, now 40 degree open, leverage position finds impact, simultaneously. 40 degrees open to the top against 40 degrees the opposite direction at impact.
It would seem I am describing the hip angles and leaving the shoulder angles out of consideration. In a sense that’s the case. I find that by just focusing on two elementary opposite leverage positions, one 40 degrees away from and the other 40 degrees towards the target, and leveraging each opposite force against each other, that the shoulders will, without stress or thought, gather more coil, automatically, and that just the basic overall two opposite positions are required to consider for top results. It’s as if the instinctive extra coil the shoulder’s make is an insurance policy to maintain the hip’s 40 degree position. As if to suspend the hips in place by stretching out the remainder of what is left above the hips, unconsciously. Just two leverage positions: 40 degrees away against 40 degrees towards target by impact, the two paddling against each other like a washing machine agitator. There is an allowance for the weight shift to the target but otherwise it should feel exactly that simple and minimal. It takes a little practice to find how to create the most torque for impact within those parameters, but that’s all the angle of opening and closing of the body proper you should need to think about. 40 degrees away from the target to the top versus 40 degrees of openness TO the target by impact. Find a way to squeeze the most force out of these two opposite motions.
From above it looks like an shallow “X”, not at 90 degree angles, but a softer less aggressive set of angles. 40 degree opposite angles on each side from the target line instead of harsh 45 degree angles is all that is required.
That is one powerful hour on the practice tee, indeed.
First of all, if anyone completely understood the golf swing, every aspect of it, he would likely find himself pretzeled up in a wheelchair like the late astro physicist, Stephen Hawking who, perhaps, knew more about our world than a human is supposed to know. I can’t think of any sporting feat so intricate and complicated and misunderstood. So much of it involves feel and physical feedback one can get lost in the weeds. In fact, after starting to write this book I learned a lot I didn’t know before and have had to step back and really concentrate on the matter before embarking on the rest of the book. There’s a lot I need to know before I am confident of giving you, the reader, my best book on the subject. My backround is modest, I am only a once upon a time tour aspirant also ran whose greatness as a golfer was diminished by other matters that took over my life. My best event was in the 1978 U.S. Amateur qualifying rounds when I finished first alternate. Sixth or seventh out of 108 players, I think. I would have made it in my first attempt except a large crowd who came to watch me at one under through 31 holes spooked me. This put me at third place with only several spots and five holes to go but I was unprepared for the sudden fame I was getting and choked a little down the stretch. The biggest matter that distracted me from pro golf, though, started with a visit to the library in 1982 that found me accidentally cracking government codes about an issue too controversial to mention here. Just to crack the codes in major magazines requires a specialized kind of person. Now, having to solve matters of human apathy and silence I have my hands full, but I consider myself the worlds most talented detective and, if not, at least the only one brave enough to tackle my political issue. Just maybe I can solve what I can about the golf swing and make it a simpler game for all.
Although not worth going into detail here, when I was 17 I became the first human to trisect an angle with just a compass and straight edge. (This occurred a few weeks after my geometry teacher, Dick Nixon, told the class on day one that no one had ever done this before. I almost fell into the answer accidentally it was so straightforward.) When I heard Paul Harvey announce another as being the first to get credit for it years later I noticed it was the same method I invented, first. It just seemed so obvious to me that one bias deserved another to reach the answer. I do have a knack, I have to admit, for detective related work. Mr. Nixon can vouch for this if you ask, I’m sure. – Healdsburg High in northern California, 1971.- He was beside himself when I showed him. What I AM amazed with was how fast it all came to me. Maybe fifteen minutes from sitting down to solving it with three correct hunches in a row and just that.
Compared to most, this book may seem a little on the cerebral side but only because I think that to get better you have to understand what’s happening and then how to go about putting a swing together with that understanding. Who knew, for example, that one’s body mass moves in a mini circle of it’s own to make the club head do the same thing, or that the middle region of your body is the free agent that moves the weight, redistributes the weight, more precisely, to effect this above mentioned dynamic? And so, bear with the complexity so that it may seep into your subconscious because that’s where good golf is played from to begin with.
Compared to one book I studied this is actually pretty straightforward using, hopefully, as few words as possible to get my points across.
Basically I will try to teach you how to use your body core – everything but your arms and club – and then teach the proper use and geometry of the arms, hands and club shaft and club head. Mostly a golfer uses the ground with his body for leverage and coils his body to the top up through the shoulders with resistance from the lower body. There is a freedom required between the knees and shoulders and one must work this area like wringing out a towel, coiling up with your stomach, back, chest and mostly shoulders to the top with extended arms and then unwinding from the ground up in the downswing. Going back most of your weight automatically shifts to your right hip as a result of your arms and club going to the right. While the sensation of momentum starts laterally, away from the target at first, as if the left shoulder is pushing the club head straight back, once the club passes your body the momentum of this backwards move shuttles the weight of the swinging object straight up as well. You want to transfer as much weight as you can while keeping all this activity contained just between your insteps and no further. This is how the pros help stabilize their head. The trick is to constantly wind your shoulders as the club travels, even when your shifting of the club’s weight goes straight up before it parks itself above your shoulders, the grip end just to the right of your head, the shaft aimed at your target.. All that weight redistributed, your body wound up with your back to the target and your arms extended wide. You’ve transferred a lot of weight back and up above you and, at the same time, you’ve created a powerful body coil. The downswing is mostly a drop down on top of the ball from there. Like dropping the weight of a house on top of the ball. The downswing unwinds from the ground up wards the mid section rotating ahead of the shoulders until after impact at which point they out rotate the hips. and, in the transition, you transfer your weight to your front hip. Much of this weight transfer involves different parts of your body accepting weight loads at various stages of the swing so as to maximize leverage and speed. How does one transfer all his weight to the back foot to the top and then transfer all his weight to the front foot at impact while maintaining a stable center of gravity? This is but one aspect to the swing I have never seen explained before. Once wound up it’s the the torso’s most natural response in the world to unwind, especially aided with the help of gravity as you free fall to impact and beyond, also transferring weight towards the target. To what extent does the counter weight that a club actually is influence this complex exchange of stress loads on different body parts in the dynamic process that is a swing? The physics involved in swinging a weight on a string help explain why the center of gravity tugs almost opposite wherever the club head is at any point in a swing and not simply back and forward. There is an up and down weight shift as well as a back and forth weight shift. The up and down shift is at least as powerful as the lateral shift.
Once this body core function is mastered the equally important role of the arms, hands, club shaft and club head will be explained. Mostly it is geometry that matters here. One should swing the club SHAFT parallel to his target line, generally. That is, the shaft should point parallel to the target whenever it is parallel to the ground. Do that and half the battle has already been won. The club head, itself, must turn over, toe over heel, after impact for maximum release and transfer of club head weight. This move is only natural and, yes, requires some athletic ability. It also takes strength and athleticism to make a club head go from a half pound at address to the equivalent of over a hundred pounds or more at impact.
The Hand’s / Body Connection;
Perhaps the most important part of this book is your hands / body connection. As much as the body provides the horsepower the hands are the “Diva” of the swing and can’t be rushed or left behind at any point in a swing. Hogan used to liken this part of technique to pulling an electrical plug from it’s socket in mid swing and losing all connection. Whatever style of swing you use you have to buffer the hands from the stresses of the rest of your motion so that they may always be ready to deliver a powerful FORWARD blow into the back of the ball at impact. A natural, instinctive move. Like cracking open a door to shut it, the backswing is just to get leverage for the slamming shut of the door. To make it easier. The pulling it shut is what counts. Especially in using backswing thoughts it’s necessary to add this function of the hands hitting the ball forward at impact to the equation. The simple act of hitting the ball forward at impact with, yes, your hands must never be left out of the equation of any swing. Give them and your forearms the support and the space they need to do their job in delivering the club through the ball in a natural athletic motion. Focus on the impact requirements must be foremost in the mind. The rest of the swing is designed around this point of impact.
To keep your swing connected, as Hogan described, I believe you have to keep your hands awake and always ready to apply themselves through impact with all the help the body can contribute. To never lose this readiness. The body must go down WITH the hands attached.
Now that I have converted to a firmer grip that puts me in “command” of the club I have found that you shouldn’t start down until your hands are ready to hit the ball and get from the top to impact, or even the finish, in one fell swoop. No speed should be left on the table from point “A” – the top – to point “B” – impact. Like striking a match. Every inch of the downswing should add speed. Start right from the top. The lower body should automatically and instinctively get the jump on the hands as you start down the way a pitcher throws his lead leg out as he starts forward. His mind is on speed of the ball and he starts immediately from the top to the release.. One fell, body assisted swoop achieving leverage from the ground, up.
A mental image I use to get the correct hand action through impact is to pretend the hands are hitting the ball all by themselves with speed instead of the club head. As if the hands were the club head and club face. They should accelerate for all they’re worth even though the club will slow them down as their momentum is transferred to the club.
Stop action camera work shows that the hands slow as the club is released. They have to surrender their momentum to transfer momentum to the club which races past them. They are trying to swing as fast as possible in spite of the illusion they aren’t accelerating. It’s only the club slowing them down as the energy is transferred.
Similarly, stop slow motion reveals that the hips also slow as the club is released, again just an exchange of energy. They, too, are not deliberately slowing. They should always lean as hard as they can into the shot.
Most of my life I used too light a grip pressure, about 10 to 20 percent power, 10 percent being feather light, 100 percent being full grip pressure. I have found that 30 to 40 percent pressure unites all the bones of your body better. like one, integrated scissor mechanism. I find it locks them all into place as a team. When I found that Nick Price recommends even as much as 75 percent pressure and tried it I was amazed to see an automatic increase in distance, besides.
VITAL VISUAL – THE CORE OF THE CORE DRIVEN GOLF SWING TECHNIQUE:
One mental drill I will use in this book to teach you the role of the body, arms and the hands in a swing is the drill where I ask you to imagine that you are swinging a golf club just like a pro would, only from a wheel chair. That’s right, a wheel chair. Let’s say one modified to approximate your normal distance from the ball. A taller seat position with seat belts, even. It’s an image I find works in isolating the upper body and arms and hands and what they have to do. The first thing you must do is not fall out of your imaginary chair while swinging, as if your situation wasn’t handicapped at all. Like you had just as good a chance of nailing your drive 250 yards down the middle, no problem. You should find that, indeed, you can power a very good shot without any concern with what the lower body is doing. In fact, this drill will help the lower body work exactly as it should, without any thought just by imagining this, I’ll admit, somewhat bizarre imagery.
Before I continue, why a wheel chair versus, say, a bar stool? At first I thought it was because it emphasized the need to only rely on your upper body as if you were in a wheel chair for a reason and couldn’t move your legs. To force you to commit to using just your hips and shoulders and arms and club to make a swing. Then I realized that the wheel chair also adds an important element to the whole swing; With the large wheels that are aligned like one’s feet, at 90 degrees to the target, they resist side to side travel, just like your feet do in a swing. Their configuration also allows for some give and will pivot slightly as your rear end squirms to coil. The chair responds to the stress and gives a little, just like your legs do in a swing.
I happen to believe that the little tug against one’s hips in this respect helps explain why no thought is necessary regarding what your legs instinctively do.. When the chair is brought to the point that it pivots a few inches to accommodate the shoulder’s need to coil it wants to then return to where it was before this interruption. Similarly, the vital leg drive you want to occur is a knee jerk reaction to this tug away from the target of your hips. They instinctively want to power back the opposite way they were tugged. This all mimics what the hips and legs do in a real swing.
Then there is the matter of being able to lean over to reach the ball. A wheel chair has foot rests to allow this and another smaller set of wheels to prevent any forward tipping over. And, finally, if you should fall too far forward or backwards the chair might roll away. It keeps you from any weight shifting except right to left.
The one thing I’d remove is the back rest and the arm rests. Nothing should interfere with the right elbow’s need to precede ahead of the hands in mid downswing. The taller seat position should take care of this concern leaving nothing in the arms way.
For all these reasons a wheelchair imagery works the best I think. You have to imagine this without any props. I suppose a gadget could be fashioned with two smaller sets of wheels and a swiveling bicycle seat, but, for now, just use your imagination before and during your swing.
Right away you should discover that you have to wait with your arms and hands in starting down. If you were to start down prematurely with the hands and arms you would topple out of your chair right away, for example. More than that, you will find that the hands must preserve the angle you have created to the top a little longer than you may think. If they open up too soon, again, you will topple out of your chair. Like two ice skaters holding opposite ends of a rope swinging in a circle opposite each other, your body acts as much like a counter weight to your club as your club acts like a counter weight to your body. They must unwind powerfully without you toppling out of your chair. It must be balanced by disciplining your arms and hands to preserve their activities until they are needed. All the while keeping the arms extended
You should feel, in going back, that your lower back and stomach muscles are put into action right away as the shoulders try to cock the club back into position with the shaft aimed to the target and your back aimed to the target as well. Your rear end is planted on a seat cushion and can’t move too much and you have to activate these muscles you’re probably not used to using in your normal swing to get to the correct top position..
In every other way this is just like making a swing as if there was no wheel chair. By having to worry about concerns like losing your balance and popping your swing or your hands out too early by imagining you are seated and immobile from the rear end down, you achieve proper swing sequence. The club and the body must maintain a perfect balance between the body mass and the club’s mass. You coil with your core muscles back. You activate the swing from your core muscles and ignore the lower body functions, completely. You use these powerful muscles like you’re not used to. Like the sun to our earth these muscles are the center of your swing’s universe. You wait for the club and arms and hands to start down with the lower body, you hold onto the angle of the club until releasing it won’t result in you falling out of your wheel chair. All of these concerns are achieved with this bizarre imagery. Even the back and forth and up and down exchange of weight with the lower body happens automatically, without any thought, whatsoever. It’s as if your natural instincts are unleashed with a mental trick concerning just your upper body, arms, hands and club.
It can often feel like a single fell swoop with the hands and body united right from the top to well past the ball. Like hitting a home run in baseball.
In another chapter I explain how long drive champ Kyle Birkshire achieves an impact position with his left leg angled backwards, like a baseball swing. This after a massive right to left weight transfer between his hips. The point I am making is that, for his lead leg to be angled exactly at the angle it was at address means he has not moved his hips very much in the process, left or right. A little like making a swing from a wheel chair. Stay centered there, shift weight and keep the counter balancing forces of club and body mass in harmony with each other at all times.
Coil with your core muscle to the top, wait fore the arms to join the rest of the body before starting down and hold the angle with the hands until releasing it won’t throw you off balance.
The Arms, Hands and Club;
The geometry of the upper arms, lower arms, hands, club shaft, club head and the shoulder bones that connect the arms and club to the body may be the most difficult part of the swing to really master. It is also the part of the swing with the most variations. Once perfected you can swing away with the confidence that accuracy will not be an issue. The posture of the arms is extended as you swing a club, not constricted. Both the body core and arms / club structure move as one, initially, the first few inches. You may introduce a slight wrist set at the same time but it’s a matter of preference..You still have to transfer weight properly and coil and uncoil properly. I have learned that a good rule of thumb is to equally use one’s shoulders and hands. 50 / 50. You have to use your body but you must also use your hands WITH your body. They can’t be too disengaged. The golf swing is an integrated motion. Most golfers err on the side of not enough shoulders and too much hands. Even on a short putt you will notice that the great Jack Nicklaus rocks his shoulders. Shoulder coil has always been integral to the swing of Jack Nicklaus and most of the greats of the game. Much of this book will focus on the shoulders as I believe them to be the center of the swing and that mind focus on them is the best path to improvement. By focusing on the shoulders the rest of the swing falls into place the fastest. The legs let them coil while providing enough resistance and the legs help propel the upper body to uncoil, arms, club shaft and club head included. Once the differential of 45 degrees between your hips and shoulders has been established at the top, once the 90 degree angle between your arms and club shaft has been established, much of the downswing is all about maintaining that differential until everything is released to the other side of the ball. In fact, to allow the body some slack to move into position ahead of the hands and club, the wrists will increase their cock in the first part of the transition, coming down simultaneously, loading the club for release after impact. A distinct sensation of the hip region leveraging the upper body and club through DURING the strike slightly ahead of the hand release is key. The hip region is where the body can shift it’s weight around the most, too. A 180 degree release occurs from the back side of the ball to the front side of the ball, all from the hitting zone when the club shaft is below the hip line. Not only does the shaft rotate 180 degrees below one’s belt line, the club head, itself, also rotates 180 degrees as well. I believe that maximum power occurs exactly AS the club head races past the handle during the strike. The Core Driven Golf Swing teaches you to use your body to store and release energy and actually “wrench” your body core to power the arms and club through during the strike. This helps set up the hands to work efficiently storing and releasing the club along the proper path back and through.
THE MAGIC DRILL:
To illustrate how easy it is to learn the core driven golf swing and how effective it really is, I think I could take a raw beginner and have him hitting impressive shots, if not right away, within a few days. To do this I recommend a half to three quarter backswing, only, with a full forward swing with somewhat locked and stiff wrists to get the hips and shoulder levers working properly. Although the swing arc is cut short and the hand action is muted, the shoulders still try to make a deep coil creating a stretch or differential between the hips and shoulders. A slight pause at the top may or may not be needed before making a full throttle return through the ball.
Think of your hip area the way you think of a bow, the handle part of the bow. Imagine thrusting your arm that is holding the bow out to the target a little extra just as you release the string. Like pulling back the string, the stretching out to the target of the other arm tightens the stress between the bow and the string. This is how you should regard the hips during the strike. They pull and rotate through ahead of the hands and club.
Once you have learned the proper grip and address (The most important part of a golf swing – impact excepted), while applying about 30 percent pressure with your hands on the grip,(Another important maxim) but not too light , stiff arm the club and arms back away from the target on a natural path that curves inside a little but finds the shaft aiming to the target as it arrives parallel to the ground. The shoulders should outpace the hips by a two to one ratio. Since this is only a short backswing with a full forward swing you might arrive at the top position with the hips coiled 20 degrees and the shoulders coiled at about 70 degrees. Let the wrists cock only about 60 degrees. Now, for the downswing, maintain that approximately 45 to 50 degree variable or differential between the hips and shoulders including whatever amount of wrist cock you have the first part of the downswing as you approach impact. Because you are using a short backswing against a full forward swing this drill stimulates the hips to jump ahead of the hit as soon as the club changes direction. The hands are already halfway to impact and the lower body is forced to get into position ahead of the hit. This next part is the key to proper technique; Instead of hitting at the ball with your hands and arms, wrench the shoulders arms and club through with HIP torque DURING the strike. Keep this torque action of the hips working all the way to the finish. Use your hips like the handle of the bow applying leverage as the string is propelled forward. If the drill isn’t working right away just hit the ball harder as if it was a full shot. Eventually your hips will kick into overdrive and get ahead of the hit.
The idea is to lever the shoulders and hips against each other to power the club and arms through impact to the finish. So, with a slightly firmish grip, swing back somewhat stiff armed just past halfway back and with just a little wrist hinge. Now, your hips already in position ahead of your shoulders, upper body and club, maintain that differential starting down and get your pelvis in position ahead of the hit and, while at a 45 degree angle opening towards the target, hit the ball by wrenching your hips to the target to release the hands and club. You will find that the feel of this hip lead maintains itself all the way to the finish and that the part of the swing AFTER impact seems to be where the real effort lies. This requires a holding back of the shoulders a little as you start down. Your body core serves the purpose of a bow and your arms and club are more like the string and arrow attached. All of this leverage, of course, relies on foot contact with the ground and the unwinding starts from the ground, up through the shoulders and down to the club. It would be difficult to stand on ball bearings and do all this. You need the leverage the ground provides and the feet transmit that leverage up through the body.
Think of a pro golfer hitting a shot over a distant tree using minimal arm and hand motion as if a branch is restricting his backswing but with a full throttle finish and you sense the feel of this swing. Steve Stricker (Who just won a major senior event running away, recently) is a great example of the core driven technique. Very simple action with quiet hands and an active body core. He hits it as big as most, too.
That’s how easy the core driven golf swing is. Once you have mastered this reduced backswing / full forward swing technique with somewhat locked hands and club then you will want to wind up the upper body and club more. Now your hips will arrive at 45 degrees from address to the top, your shoulders from 90 to 100 degrees, and your wrist hinge at about 90 degrees. The path your hands, arms and club take back to the top and back down are not straight back and way from the ball but slightly inside to square. That is, even though the shaft is swung parallel to the target and the club head arrives on a straight to target path at impact the path you take from the top to the finish is more inside out. Imagine the ball at the center of a clock face with your feet at six O’clock and the ball in the center of the dial. Even though your club goes through impact from roughly three O’clock to nine O’clock, your delivery of the blow of the arms and club from the top is more along the path of four O’clock to the ten O’clock position. While, in fact, your club goes back to the inside of the ball line after impact the feeling is that it goes straight out to the target after impact. If you try to swing everything straight back away from the ball you will throw yourself off balance towards your toes. This is a misunderstood topic in golf technique circles but it’s important. You can only draw strength from wherever your center of gravity or mass is and that is nearer your stance line where most of your body mass is. You can’t deliver a blow from where your body isn’t, but from where it is. From there you swing out to meet the ball on the ball line. Imagine holding a basketball with both hands and winding up to the top position and then throwing the basketball straight at the back of the golf ball while keeping your head back, your elbows leading the hands. That kind of directional force.
When your whole swing is balanced you can “floor it” with less worry. You’re still ‘swinging exactly sideways’, (the art of golf) just inside to square to stay in balance. Factually, one swings the club from the ball line to the foot line to the top then back to the ball line at impact and then, again, above the foot line at the finish. In the process your weight goes mostly to your right leg to the top and by impact almost all the weight is on the left leg as it also pushes up against the ground to add centrifugal force at impact.
Now, this drill I have devised works for a number of reasons:
By severely choking off the use of the hands and using only a reduced backswing an entire ‘can of worms’ is removed from the equation. The proper, full cocking of this intricate assembly of the arms, hands and club is complex. Right now we are skipping that part to teach you body rotation mechanics, first. Using your shoulders just move the club and arms away from the ball opposite your target. This should automatically shift your weight to your back foot. Your arms may reach shoulder height but no more. Your club may cock some 60 degrees but no more.
In a golf swing there are two rotational forces; One is the rotation of the arms, club and club head around one’s body and the other is the clock wise and counter clockwise rotation of the body core from head to feet.. Think of it like a propeller shaft and the club as the propeller blades.. If you’ve ever played “Foosball” you know you spin the toy player, head over heels, with a horizontally mounted shaft which spins the player like a bicycle wheel. That would represent the club / arms part of the swing. Now imagine a player spun with a vertical shaft and a hockey stick coming out from the side which got spun around horizontally, more like a baseball swing. Another good image to use is a stick with a propeller blade at the top. Maybe you once had such a childhood toy. You spin the stick in hour palms and the propeller sends it flying straight up into the air. That would represent the core part of a swing. That motion with a back and forth weight shift included. These two forces work with each other. A golf swing is a more complicated version of the same thing. Think of the agitator paddles inside an upright washing machine that go clockwise 30 degrees and then counter-clockwise 30 degrees in opposite directions. By facing your shoulders even that much away from the target and returning them back against that move 30 degrees to the target going forward and just holding onto the club you are creating a lot of torque with that small, big body parts move. Inch for inch it is the small bones between your shoulders and neck that deliver the most wallop. Move them even a little and watch your club head move a lot. There is also the clockwise and counter- clockwise rotational force of one’s arms as they deliver the club and cross over each other, especially after impact. This, of course, also adds the rotation of the club head, toe over heel, during the strike. A whole lot of rotation going on, everywhere. This book focuses mostly on the body core rotation. There are many ways to swing a club but the body core rotation applies to them all.
By using the half to three quarter backswing against a full forward swing the lower body is stimulated to IMMEDIATELY and FORCEFULLY get active and into position ahead of the hands and club before anything else happens. A tiny pause at the top may help for some. This correct maneuver is harder with a more complete backswing. The fact that the hands are already halfway to impact starting down is the reason the lower body is forced to “giddyup” more than usual. The legs have to transport your hips forward and open for impact. If the hands wanted to hit they couldn’t until they had something in front to pull against. That’s why your hips automatically spring ahead, first thing, with this drill. That’s what you want. During the strike you want your hips wrenching counter-clockwise with your weight landing hard on your left leg as it pushes up against the centrifugal weight of the club head. At impact your left shoulder is going up while your right shoulder is going down.This propels the shoulders, arms and club through. Starting down the unwinding starts from the feet to the legs to the hips to the shoulders to the arms and then the club and in that order. For whatever reason the wrenching is felt most in the body’s middle region, the part that can move weight around the most. For the BACKSWING the leverage starts with the feet but it is the SHOULDERS that start turning first and lead the rest of the body back. The lower body resists a little in the process to collect coil. Conversely, the shoulders are the last to return while the LOWER BODY leads the move DOWN, unwinding from the ground up, against a from the top down backswing. This effectively “wrings out’ your whole body for all the torque it’s worth. It should feel silky in the transition zone keeping your arms / club unit wide as your left shoulder completes it’s turn and smoothy slots into the downswing mode and returns to a finish.
Besides all this you have a left side and a right side. In a golf swing each gets wrapped up in a twist around the other like two ropes of taffy being mixed. Think of how your extended left leg, left backside and left arm all get wrapped around your right leg and side to the top and of your extended entire right side as it is then wrapped around your left leg and side to the finish. This is where real power is happening, this dynamic that uses the large muscles and bones leveraging itself like one, big, integrated complex of levers. Add a punctuated weight shift and watch that ball fly.
By getting one’s hips into position ahead of the hit and opening them up about 45 degrees to the target, actually wrenching everything through DURING impact, they are out of the way of the hands and club and you have put your weight, your center of gravity, towards the target, to your left. The feet and steady head can’t move and so your hips are the free agent that can redistribute your weight the most. Now your hips act like a pylon for the rest of your swing to unleash from.
I first got the idea of this powerful drill years ago while watching an unknown professional practicing at the annual Pebble Beach event near where I live. He swung the club magnificently using less than a three quarter backswing. I could tell by the sound of the ball that he was flying his driver at least 250 yards at sea level. To me, a self admitted snob when it comes to golf technique, this golfer convinced me that it is possible to play well with a limited backswing arc, after all. It merely eliminated a middle region of transition, some of which may or may not be necessary. It demands a strong reaction with the lower body as soon as the direction changes.
While the introduction may seem a little foreign to many of you let me introduce you to the very basics of the golf swing, first.
The grip is somewhat firmish. Not tight but offering a feeling of being in command of the club. I’d say about 30 to 40 percent of your strength only. For three quarter, touch shots and pitch and chip shots use whatever pressure you like. Personally, I distribute the pressure evenly throughout the hands including the fingers. You want both palms to end up facing each other like a wall at 90 degrees from the target. with the right thumb and forefinger straddling the shaft at the top while the left thumb rides on top of the shaft slightly inclined to somewhere between your chin and right shoulder. The left thumb should be cradled in the valley of your right palm and thumb. The grip is felt in the fingers and not just the palms with the shaft falling from the first joint of the left forefinger to just above the line where the fingers meet the palm at an angle. The shaft in the right hand falls at a squarer, less diagonal angle, mostly where the fingers meet the palm.
The stance is a little cock-eyed compared to what most humans want to adopt. It has to be just right if you are to achieve any success with any method. The correct stance has a ‘sweet spot’ you want to fall into every time you swing a club. You have to be in good, erect posture, no slumping or crouching with somewhat crisp angles from the knees, hips and shoulders. You want these body parts to also be aligned parallel to your target (For straight shots) Your right foot points nearly straight ahead while your left foot wings out towards the target a little. You want your left shoulder higher than your right shoulder. You want your grip and ball position left of center out by your left instep. You want your head behind the ball with your left ear in line with the ball. From your perspective your hands should block your left instep from view. All of this will force a slight tilt away from the target with your spine while your hips remain a little forward. The weight should be pretty even throughout your stance (For normal shots) if anything slightly favoring your left side. (For big tee shots favor the right side) Your right elbow should fall below where your left elbow is (When viewed from behind) partly because it is bent while your left arm is straight and you want to let the club travel a little to your inside going back and from the inside going down..
For a beginner what is there to say except; with a steady head and with a straight left arm, using mostly the shoulders, swing the club away from the ball to the top, like slinging a bag of laundry over your shoulders while extending your arms and club, and then swing it down, tucked at first, as your body races ahead to get into position, releasing the club below the belt line through and past the very back of the ball all the way to the finish, finishing on your front leg. The club tracks around your shoulders like a tilted bicycle wheel aligned with the target. Turn your back to the target at the top. Your finish should find your belt buckle facing the target. These two positions are a good pair to mix up in your head to make a correct swing. In taking a divot make sure you take it in front of the ball, hitting slightly down on the ball and fully release past impact to the target. Think of the exact shot and see it in your mind’s eye before you swing, putting, included.
The Meat Of The Matter; The Core Dynamics; WHAT Happens;
Someone once said, maybe Lee Trevino, but others as well; “Big muscles” (Pointing to his legs and torso) “Little muscles.”(Pointing to his hands and arms.) His point being that it’s easier to move the ball with your big muscles than your small muscles. Lee also said that he regards his body as the tree trunk and the arms and hands as the branches and that the trunk swings the branches, not vice versa. This is where I explain, as best I can, how to do this with your body core. That’s where the meat is on your bones and that’s what you should be using, anyway. Timing a weight shift with a body coil and uncoil with arm extension is at the heart of the matter.
For you somewhat already golf oriented types we have the swing, itself. With a steady head and straight left arm, it is made exactly sideways from where you are standing. 90 degrees from your target. You swing the club away from the target allowing it to ride up to your stance line from the ball line while aligning the shaft to the target at the top. This is made mostly through the shoulders chest and back muscles which out turn the lower body which maintains some resistance to force your body to coil and not just turn. This means working and stretching this region a little. The arms extend and allow the club all the width it needs, too. You do this while aligning the shaft to the target whenever it is parallel to the ground; one third back, at the top, two thirds down, halfway through past impact and, depending on your style, not necessarily so after halfway through. When viewed from behind the overall shape of the club’s motion resembles a tilted bicycle wheel, more vertical than horizontal and aligned towards the target. This imaginary wheel goes through your chest back and shoulder region, mostly. This bicycle wheel configuration actually shifts about a foot or slightly more (Depending on force) to the target when you make your downswing. This is a result of a powerful shifting of your weight to the target as you start down and it even causes a slight downward blow during the strike. It also accounts for the divot taken after impact. Swinging back to the top the weight transfer of your club and arms to the right automatically sets your weight over your right hip and leg as the left shoulder goes under your chin. The shoulder turn is now about 90 degrees from address, the hips half of that The wrist cock is now about 90 degrees. The very first thing that happens when you begin your downswing is your left leg and hips jump out towards the target and fall so that you can catch your weight on your left leg at impact as you simultaneously push off of your right foot and release your right side and club past it, after. This redistributing of your weight, which is only possible through your middle region and legs, gives your upper body and arms and club mass to attach itself to and use for leverage. Putting the horse before the cart. It is important that you plant this weight ahead of the strike so it pulls your swing to the target. In reality the weight shift from the top to impact and the finish is also straight down and to the target at first, like jumping out of an airplane (The famous Sam Snead ‘squat’ look in mid downswing.) If a single direction was to be described it would be diagonally down and forward. This is required to position your weight low so you can push up against the ground during impact to increase centrifugal force as your left leg accepts the weight of the whole swing pushing up against the weight of the club as it collides with the ball.
That this element of weight shifting hasn’t been pointed out before puzzles me a little. It is visibly obvious that one’s legs flex most as you start down (To lower your mass weight) That this occurs when the club is high and above suggests that centrifugal force is achieved by tugging, at all times, a little ahead of the exact opposite position of the club or ‘counter weight’. Then, in mid downswing, when the club is opposite the target the most, you make your biggest shift TO the target pulling just ahead of the opposite position of the club. By impact you are now seen straightening the left leg to push UP away from where the club is as well as to the target keeping just ahead of the opposite position of the counter weight. By mid follow through, the club shaft now pointing TO the target, your arms and body are seen pulling it AWAY from the target and thereby starting the deceleration process to a finish. In all cases you can see how the body’s center of mass is maneuvered in a circular manner almost opposite of wherever the club head is at any given moment. Centrifugal force observed and presented as I’ve never read before. It’s exactly like the small circle your fingers make when spinning a weight on a string. A mini circle inside a bigger circle, always just ahead of opposite the position of the weight being swung.
Why “Just ahead of” the opposite position of the counter weight? Why not exactly opposite? That would a static, not a dynamic motion, is why, I believe. I think it has something to do with giving a direction to the motion to get it to spin.
So, folks, there is an up and down as well as a back and forward element to shifting your weight to move the club. A small, circular or perhaps oval shaped pattern, in fact, that your whole body instinctively engages without thought. Tiger Woods used to occasionally be seen dipping or bobbing his head up and down as he tried to maximize this up and down force. Ta da! Explained here, first, as far as I know.
A weight shift is a lot like the small mini circle one makes with his fingers while spinning a weight on a string, only now it’s made with the body’s center of mass as it swings the arms and club around it’s smaller, similar motion.
All the greats have a few things in common, here. One of the commonalities is that they all re positioned their lower body (Hip region and left leg) forward, before the upper body was allowed to unwind. They all landed heavily on their forward leg at impact while releasing the club and their right side past it after impact. The coordinated coil and uncoil was full bodied and balanced.
From address a slight shift of weight away from the target allows the club to move back. In fact one’s neck moves a half inch away from the target, first, to do this. The shoulders lead the coil to the top, the backswing occurring from the top down even though it is the feet that offer the leverage to do so.
The downswing occurs from the bottom, up, further tightening the stretch made to the top. From the top it is the feet then the knees that are first to move as the weight of the hips falls down and to the target. (I’ve examined this fact watching the greats in slow motion, stop, start action.) Then the hips start to unwind ahead of the shoulders. Mush of the first half of the downswing involves maintaining the differentials achieved at the top. In fact, to allow some slack for the knees and hips to shuttle target wards, the wrists allow some additional cocking as the downswing begins. This is O.K. as additional leverage is being stored in the wrists for release later. By mid downswing the hips have caught up to the knees and by impact they have passed the knees. Only after mid follow through do the shoulders out rotate the hips and continue to outpace them by almost 90 degrees at the finish.
So, you can see that the backswing is lead by the upper body and the downswing is lead by the lower body which has positioned itself ahead of the hit during the downswing. Like stretching a rubber band from both ends. The ‘tuck’ I mentioned one makes in starting down refers to the elbows, mostly. Do this while maintaining a large arc with the clubhead. A feeling of drawing into one’s center. while the rest of the swing stays wide. Similar to the way a skater will spin faster by drawing the arms tight, this ‘tuck’ starting down allows the body to spin ahead of the club which is actually cocking even more providing the slack to allow this. By impact the hips are spinning out of the way of the release pulling the upper body and club through. By mid follow through the upper body and club have passed the lower body and now the dynamics are set up for deceleration. In a sense the swing is stretched tight by the shoulders to the top, one’s weight mostly on the right leg, and then stretched even tighter by the lower body as it leads the downswing to land on the left leg and hip at impact, culminating in a true release of everything around the left leg, ultimately.
My teacher, Ben Doyle, used to repeat this line, often; “Shoulders lead and power you to the top, hips lead and power you to the finish.” Now that I understand how a swing is like wringing out a towel to the top from the shoulders, down, and then doubling down by unwinding everything from the ground, up, creating a deep compression that releases with whiplash effect, it all makes sense to me, now. The tip I offered beginners about marrying two thoughts together; one of turning your back to the target at the top and of turning your belt buckle to the target at the finish helps animate the body to make this very dynamic move.
The Arms, Hands and Club; WHAT Happens;
So long as you use your shoulders at least as much as you use your hands you can use your hands for all they’re worth. It’s a competitive world out there and I see every resource available being used in professional golf today. I think that there are two circles working together in a swing; the one made from your shoulders and the one made from your hands. If one out paces the other the swing falls out of sequence and out of balance.
I offer two kinds of wrist action; the familiar one piece style that finds the club and arms in line the first few feet back and I offer the pre set style that simultaneously cracks a small angle as you start. The second style seems to protect the hands better from the two and fro of the first style keeping them suspended in a cocoon of ‘feelinglessness’ until impact. Most of what I describe in this book applies mostly to the one piece style unless otherwise stated.
As for the hands and the club, itself, the club opens up 90 degrees from address to the top as do the forearms. From mid downswing to mid follow, alone, the shaft rotates 180 degrees or more, the ball caught in the middle of all this rotation The club face, itself, also rotates 180 degrees toe over heel DURING the strike and after. The arms, in fact, cross over one another as the full force of the swing is released to the target.
Like one’s fingers put themselves out ahead of and opposite the weight they are swinging on a string, so does the lower body position itself ahead of the upper body and club until after the hit. This is body core dynamics explained in the simplest way I know how. There is a lot of torque created through the body core and it is unwound for maximum effect. The weight of one’s swing goes from neutral to the right leg to the top to fully onto the left leg by impact and beyond. In the process a powerful coiling and uncoiling of the body, like a propeller shaft, has occurred. This weight assisted coil / recoil is what happens in a proper golf swing. The arms and club accompany this churning and shifting of the body loading and releasing angles from the wrists. How these angles are collected and released is key. The cocking to the top is gradual. The cock then increases as you start down and stays that way until the club is below your belt line. From there to mid follow through it’s an all out release of all the stored angles you have, not only in your arms and club, but your body parts as well. Wrenching everything through is your mid section spinning counter-clockwise through the strike.
You will notice with stop action / slow motion that the hip rotation slows during the strike a little. This is not because they are rotating or wrenching any less but because the weight of the club, now being launched like an arrow, puts a drag effect on the hips that are launching it forward. The weight of the club is borrowing from the mass of the hips and that is why they are slowed down during this transfer of energy. The hips are working all the way to the finish.
Your arms and hands want to keep the shaft, especially, aligned along a single line parallel to the target, both back and forward.. It is vital to start smoothly and unhurriedly, making sure to finish your backswing so you can re trace the path you made to the top back down. Not completing your backswing opens the door for problems that can put a swing off track and force you to apply effort instead of proper form to do the work. If the left shoulder fails to go under your chin and your back is not turned to the target you are not properly cocked for the downswing. A visual image I use is to pretend I’m slinging a bag of cloths over my shoulder. I swing it along the target line like a club and up over my shoulders until it aims at the target, arms extended, and I make the downswing before it falls onto my shoulders. This encourages a deep coil and a turn of your back to the target.
If you torso isn’t coiling for every inch your club is moving you’re leaving power on the table you need for the downswing. Don’t outpace the club in doing so but keep pace with your club with your shoulder coil.
As I described earlier in this book, what starts out as a lateral move of the club straight away from the target in the takeaway reroutes the centrifugal tug of the club’s weight from lateral to vertical. You sense the weight of the club going straight back and straight up at the same time in a sense. This prevents swaying and unnecessary effort. Just make sure that you coil your shoulders back as you lift the club up into position above your shoulders. The lateral shift is contained between your insteps. The vertical weight shift, especially forward, is unlimited and is achieved with your mind’s imagination to a degree. Whether you use the delayed wrist break technique or the setting of an angle at take away technique, you want to start everything together, head to toe, the first six inches of the swing back. If I said that the neck shifts away one half inch away from the target to allow the swing to move in that direction, I meant to say everything moves a half inch back that first six inches of the backswing. Undoubtedly the same rule of motion probably applies starting back down, but these subtle moves must be restricted to JUST one half inch and no more. A steady head along with grounded feet serve like a vice to stabilize the body and squeeze power out of it. Do not sway. Keep your head back as your lower body leads the downswing.
I like to use the armpits, that’s right, the armpits, to reference my shoulder region and use that region to animate and orchestrate my swing. This is where the arms connect to the body and where they “gird” the arms to the rest of the swing. If you prefer to think trunk or shoulders or back or chest or all of the above, that’s fine. What’s important is that this region orchestrates the swing as much as any other body part. The shoulders smoothly start turning in conjunction with this subtle shift away from the ball carrying the arms and club as one letting whatever wrist break style you prefer to occur at a smooth, even pace. Only because the shoulders are coiling does the rest of your body join in, resisting just enough to create coil as you create a differential between your hips and shoulders of about 45 degrees at the top. All the while your arms remain extended as your left shoulder goes under and behind your chin. Naturally the right arm has to bend but they both reach out throughout the swing. After impact the left arm naturally has to eventually fold.
There should be no undo fanning open of the club head or hooding of it to the top but, rather, a diplomatic middle ground that should feel somewhat benign. The clubface should align with the angle of your left arm at the top somewhere between 45 and 60 degrees, depending. One third into your backswing when the shaft is parallel to the ground it should aim to your target and the face should be just a little aimed to the ground, not quite straight up in the air. Conversely, halfway past impact with the shaft also aimed to the target the club head folds over beyond vertical, naturally. The idea is to get to the top with the shaft aimed to the target with a 90 degree wrist cock but little else going on in the process.
If you prefer the early wrist set make it subtle, just crack an angle, and gradually add to it up to 90 degrees at the top. The early wrist set is a little tricky to master but takes a lot of stress off of the hands as there is less back and forth pressures exerted on them. Just a set and KAPOW! at impact is all one should feel.
If you prefer the one piece style that finds a straight line start between the club and hands then let them cock naturally once the hands are nearing knee or hip height. Be prepared for the straight, to cocking, to stopping, to starting, to cocking more as the downswing begins exchanges felt in the hands using this style.(I, personally, am switching to the early set style even though it forces me to align the shaft correctly, immediately with that first cracking open of an angle at the start. It’s a lot like uniting the two disparate rods of shaft and left arm as one kinked rod efficiently getting to correct top of swing position gradually with no unnecessary manipulation.)
The club, itself, rotates head over handle from address to finish not one, not two, not three or four, but FIVE times in a swing. Do the math. One and one half 180 degree rotations to the top and three and one half 180 degree rotations to the finish from there. Five. Before I began writing this book even I though maybe one or two. Imagine throwing a club like a boomerang end over end five times in it’s flight. It’s as if the swing reveals a rotor tiller effect inside the swing no one has noticed before.
All of this rotation inherent in the body core, the arms, the club and club head accounts for much of the dizzying power today’s tour pros display. Add a brisk weight shift to it and that’s golf.
Once at the top and the lower body pull engages with the shoulders and starts to unwind them the body wants to plant itself somewhere forward of the hit. The hip region is free to do so and redistribute mass forward. To accommodate this ‘leap to the left’ to start down the wrists accept stress in the form of cocking more than at the top creating some ‘slack’ with which to do so. Mostly the legs re distribute the mass of the hips into position. From this tightly compressed stage of the swing as the lower body is tightening the squeeze between them and the shoulders in mid downswing the right elbow socks into your right side positioned to lead the hands into impact. This tucking in allows the body to rotate ahead of the club. The intense angle created in mid downswing that also allows this now begins to release below one’s belt line 180 degrees to the other side of the ball reacting to the intense stress loads your swing has created. By impact your weight has been transferred to your front leg as you launch the ball. Now it’s all about letting go and accelerating to the finish. The hands have snapped the clubhead past the grip and the big power release finds the shaft chasing the target line. All the while you feel your hips pulling everything through in concert with your hands.
Having already laid out the importance of maintaining a hands / body connection, giving the hands authority over the body in beginning a downswing so that they can strike forward, forcefully from the top in one motion to the finish, allow me to explain the other important matters.
So, much of the hands function in a swing is to ALLOW to ACCOMMODATE the club’s need to move in whatever direction force compels them to move in. To allow the positioning of the shaft to occur and hold on is half of the hand’s job. To act like a disciplined, but omni directional sockets giving the club freedom to move in proper alignment. Flexible enough to allow the vital hinging and cocking and releasing of the club through it’s many stages.
Besides that they must know when and where to cock or un cock. I recommend a smooth gradual cock to not more than 90 degrees at the top and then, as the downswing compresses the body coil, to allow even more cocking so that the body can have some slack to move into position for impact and to then hold that extreme angle until the club is below the belt line at which point the hands allow the club to somersault 180 degrees, head over handle to the other side of the ball including the shaft and the club head, itself. An all out release to the target and the hands have to allow the proper path at all times. During impact the club is rolling from open to shut and after impact it rolls over, completely. The hands have to allow for all of this motion.
This brings me to a subject that compelled me to actually write Jack Nicklaus in late 1979 about the subject of hands vs. body in a golf swing. (He actually wrote back.) Back then Square To Square technique was the rage and a lot of pros agreed that the hands are somewhat dormant in a swing and mostly just hold on while the body hits the ball. That’s, in essence, is what THIS book is about, to hit with hip torque and not just with the hands during the strike.
What happened was this; I had just blown another VW motor and was at my wits end and desperate enough to challenge myself with the argument; “Either you have what it takes or you don’t. Find out, for both of us, please, today!”‘If you can’t just grab the club and smash the ball using your hands then forget it.” And so I went about startling myself as I hit the ball just like a tour pro 20 percent better than at any other time of my life. I just HAD to let Jack know what I discovered. Like a fool I lept before I looked and I’m sure I confused Jack more than anything else and still was left not knowing the answer to my questions.
In hindsight I now wonder was it the mere fact that I must have increased my grip pressure that day, and that alone, that made the difference. For decades I wondered and wondered. That’s one reason why I wrote this book, I’m sure, to find out for myself.
This is why I mentioned this hands / body connection early in this book. It’s one thing to put the horse before the cart, (The Core Driven Golf Swing) it’s another thing to make sure the horse is connected to the cart.
Having done all the hard detective work these past few years I can now say that the hands do accompany the body hit and add their own hit to the shot. The famed Mo Norman, as body core only kind of a swing you’ve ever seen, swears “… it’s all about the hands.” I’ve heard. So, go figure. It’s like getting wound up like a pretzel trying to figure was it the chicken or the egg that really came first. Still, all of this mystery existing, I now believe that the hands are better prepared to apply their contribution by commanding “Diva” status demanding that the body wait for them to join the downswing so they can apply a single, forward hit right from the top. This is why the swing slows at the top to almost a stop to assure this. All the pieces fall into position, the hands now ready to strike with utter dispatch, and only now does the body get the jump on the downswing and help the hands go “All out” to the finish.
GRAVITY: “That’s Heavy, Man”
Gravity. How is it utilized in a golf swing? Mo Norman, a teaching legend in golf circles, says the weight shift is as easy as; “…falling off a log.” Maybe for him it was that easy, but there is a lot more to gravity and golf. The speed of a proper downswing, for example, I believe to be the exact same time it would take to drop a golf ball from your shoulders to the ground. Faster isn’t needed and slower is also counter productive. Swing at the speed of gravity. Start slow and smooth and gradually, constantly accelerate, especially after impact.
Actually, I learned recently that Bobby Jones said that one should swing at one mile per hour faster than the speed of gravity. I will defer to Bobby Jones and modify my above remark. Always be accelerating. Don’t get caught swinging slower than gravity, that’s for sure.
While the weight shift is certainly back and forth it is also up and down. I imagine that the backswing is a lot like wenching a HOUSE up on ropes above one’s head and then dropping it for all the weight it’s worth straight down onto the ball for your downswing. Now THAT”S a weight shift!
I had the pleasure to watch Kyle Birkshire, the reigning long drive champ (summer of 2019), hit a drive that flew over 400 yards before it stopped at about 430 yards. Kyle has just recently starting using a paddling back and forth with his feet before he starts his swing. He rocks his weight onto his back foot, actually lifting his front foot off of the ground, then he rocks back the other way, now lifting his back foot off the ground. From here he starts his swing using the momentum of the rocking of his weight back to his rear foot only, this time he keeps his front foot somewhat grounded. He swings back wide in one piece, a lot like Jack Nicklaus, to the top and then falls vertically at first, then shifts laterally in mid downswing as he then spins his hips as the club is released past a left leg that is slanted backwards like a pro baseball swing while his arms and shoulder and club go through beneath his still head to the target.
His entire lateral shift is as small and unhurried and as simple as Moe Norman’s analogy; “Falling off a log.” A rocking back and forth between both feet and that is all.
The move reveals a fact about a weight shift. As I watched the replay in slow motion I noticed that his actual swing uses the exact same cadence and tempo as the one used in the rehearsal shift. No extra burst of speed at any point, just a rocking back and forth of the weight from back to front foot and at about the exact speed of gravity. There is no point in a downswing when one jumps onto his left hip. It all happens gradually and evenly, his body working in harmony with his arms and club and the laws of gravity. However powerful a shift is, it occurs between his insteps and the rest of the weight shift is vertical, where real power, I think, happens. The lateral shift is a very subtle but powerful move, not a wild, all over the place move. If you can drop the weight of the club like dropping the weight of a house on top of the ball AND your body is strong enough to push up against the ground to catch the fall and create the resulting centrifugal force you have tapped into the essence of real weight redistribution in a swing. That’s one reason why I think a backswing should travel straight up as well as straight back, simultaneously. Coil, all the while but also lift the club above your shoulders to prevent swaying and unnecessary effort..
When interviewed, after, Kyle remarked that “It’s not how much effort…. but how good you swing…”
As already discussed, the forces involved in spinning a weight on a string is circular and ever changing just ahead of the opposite position of whatever weight you are swinging. There is gravity involved in that, for sure. Centrifugal force, itself. Putting the equivalent of over a hundred pounds of force in a club head during impact that weighed a half pound at address involves gravity. I got excited about writing a golf instruction book after listening to David Lee’s “Gravity Golf” tapes. Only after I rediscovered the effortless, full body swing that he teaches did I know which general technique to attach myself to. The one with the biggest bang for the buck. How convenient that my favorite golfers use it, anyway.
David Lee describes a “counter fall’ to start down from the top after first loading the right hip with your weight back to the top. From the top to impact you almost fall straight down onto your lead leg against the initial weight transfer to the right hip. I learned, using this big muscles technique, that power can be effortless and that is why I decided to make his technique the one I would recommend to the world. Jack Nicklaus is one of his models and Jack writes about the same things in different words in his books and they are great. I think “Golf My Way” has passed Hogan’s “Five Modern Fundamentals of Golf” in fact, lately, as the number one most sold instructional out there. I am choosing Mr. Lee’s interpretation partly because I don’t want to favor my hero too much in this book. He might not appreciate that much adulation. Mr. Lee also impressed me with his independent thinking and pioneering spirit.
Mike Austin, Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus; Seeing Is Believing
To show you how all of what I described thus far applies to an actual swing I have chosen three of the best swings I could find; Mike Austin, Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus. You may say; “Who is Mike Austin?”
Mike Austin is a golfer from Sam Snead’s era. He was known for being the longest hitter on tour, then. He averaged over 350 yards with old school equipment and he did it with a silky, smooth, flowing, graceful swing that it even resembles the PGA Tour logo of a golfer in mid follow through. He was swinging like Jack Nicklaus before Jack Nicklaus, especially his finish. Since his was the most powerful swing of Jack Grout’s day I would be surprised if Mr. Grout didn’t actually use Austin’s swing as a template to teach Jack Nicklaus from. Had he been a better putter you would have heard of him more. He holds the Guinness Book of Records for longest drive in a PGA event with a drive of 515 yards. He flew it over 400 yards with only a 25 mph tailwind on a level hole in Las Vegas during the Senior U.S.Open. He did this astounding feat at the age of 63. In one exhibition (His forte) he hit a green over 350 yards away with 90 percent of his shots. He was accurate as could be. His ‘swoosh’ and it was a mighty and loud one, occurred AFTER impact, unlike most pros. His swing seemed to unlock more secrets than any other I have seen. In his prime, using today’s equipment, he might be the only golfer driving 400 yards or more is my guess.
He was built for speed and too highly strung for military service, in fact. Over six feet tall and almost 200 pounds of weightlifter physique he was a rare specimen, indeed. I wonder were his long thigh bones a key to his power. Even if one fully understood his swing, copying it would have it’s limitations. I’d say the same thing of Jack Nicklaus’s swing. Jack’s legs were as strong as tree trunks and his knees led his hips more than most golfers with normal builds. Still, one can aspire to utilize their techniques and try to keep in shape so you can.
( A Word About Fitness;)
Golf SHOULD be a regimen for staying fit. I’d go so far as to say that you should try to whip your body into shape with a swing as much as hit good shots with it. The two ideas go hand in hand. Natures tonic, in a sense. There’s a reason an ‘effortless’, big muscle swing will find you panting and out of breath at times. You’re using your body correctly. Every muscle, in fact. Your whole body is getting stretched out and used. If you aren’t willing to at least get your legs into shape be willing to sacrifice results. Personally, I know from a loss of twenty yards in one year’s time, that a desk job and soft legs can do just that to a swing. I found this out a year after I took a job managing a custom golf shop. My former jobs had me on my feet, non stop. Only after I sat at a desk for a year and saw my game fizzle did I see the light about physical fitness and how it relates to golf. Don’t be a dummy. Golf is an athletic sport and you must me strong to do it right. How great it is that correct technique can keep you there, besides.
Am I guilty of slacking in this regard? I have a lower back issue (From a work injury) that requires I strengthen my core muscles and I’d rather not have to do it but I am forcing myself to feel better by doing the work. I keep the rest of myself as fit as I can with activity, golf and a good diet. It’s just a better way to live. Fit, that is.
Sam needs little introduction as his is considered by most to be the best swinger, ever. Full bodied and natural he coiled up fully in an extended posture and paused at the top longer than others before falling into his famous bow legged ‘squat’ in mid downswing, culminating in a silky unwinding of his hips that landed him on his front leg at impact before releasing the club poetically to his balanced finish. Indeed, today’s swing owes a lot to his example, then.
I’ve already gushed profusely about this swing but it bears repeating how full bodied and athletic it really was, his finish high and his arc noticeably bigger than others. His arched finish more majestic than any other word that comes to mind. ‘His Majesty’ to my eye. What a triumph of human talent, proper technique and athleticism. Not a swing everyone CAN copy but one worth trying to copy as it is still correct. Only a slightly bigger lead at impact with your hips than knees is all you might notice in your motion. Your arms might want to stay a little closer to your side at the top but not by much. I am proud to use this template that was more correct at impact than any other and achieved the most consistent distance control I’ve ever seen.
It would be folly NOT to tap whatever insight one can from these three amazing swings. I picked them very carefully you can be sure. Hogan would be there, too, as his was a great swing. His cupped wrist style is the only reason he is not among this group. His core action was as good as it gets if you want to see a great use of hips versus shoulders.
(Everything below was written months ago and is repetitious regarding the above late entry.)
The core driven golf swing can be most simply described as this; Using your trunk (shoulders / back / chest / waist – everything from waist to shoulders ) girding your arms and club assembly to your shoulders, applying leverage from ground contact with the feet up through the legs, rotate this large mass like an upright top loading wash machine tumbler clockwise going back around the axis of your right hip socket and counter clockwise going forward around the axis of your left hip socket. The transfer to the left hip occurs in mid downswing as the club angle between the arms and club increases before it is then is released through to the target 180 degrees head over handle as well as toe over heel.. This move incorporates a rotational force and a weight transfer, combined, that effortlessly provides maximum power with minimum effort. The rest of the swing involves a precise use of the extended arms and hands and club to route this dynamic force to the target. There is cocking of the club and a releasing of the club at precise junctures. Even though it is mostly body rotation and weight transfer the hands must also hit WITH the body at the moment of impact. I recommend mind focus on the shoulders to orchestrate the whole swing as this is the center of the swinging action and even the center of your mechanical structure – the distance between your shoulders and feet and your shoulders to ball being almost equal distant. like a nutcracker extended out from it’s central hinge.- Body and legs on one end and arms hands and club on the other end. This mind focus on the shoulder and chest region best integrates the whole structure to perform in and extended, unified manner.
This book offers new mental thoughts to effect body results. Some thoughts work better than others, I have found. For example. If you move the entire left arm and club back from the target and move it as if you were pulling a bowstring back to your chin or behind your chin, even better, you will find a perfect shoulder coil in the process. Certainly there is a cocking of the wrists at some point and this whole assembly of left arm and club are felt as one lever. This THOUGHT, however, of pulling that hinged lever and club back away from target may actually BE the purpose of a shoulder turn. Another thought I use is to imagine that the club would reach around and kiss the very front of the golf ball at the top if your shoulders could turn that far. They can’t, but this thought puts your swing on the best plane and path. The mind focus on the shoulder region as opposed to other body parts puts one’s mind at the center of activity. The distance from shoulders to ball is about the same as the distance of one’s shoulders to feet. Stretch out your club in front of you and raise it up a little and your body resembles a nutcracker that opens from the shoulders. It just so happens that by focusing on this area of the body the rest of the body falls into place better. “Happy shoulders and happy hands” is one thought that harnesses, in equal measure, the forces of the body and the hands. When they both vie for power and role they equal each other out and a swing becomes balanced. I used to over cock my hands and under cock my shoulders, for example. My swing used to be out of balance.
The one thought I learned a s a kid was “straight left arm with steady head.” It’s a pretty good swing thought that reigns in a lot of good moves that follow. This book recognizes that certain thoughts trigger better results than others.
When mastered, the core driven golf swing feels like this; You stand comfortably at address with the proper stance and grip, a slightly firm, uniform grip on the club. Not tight but air tight at all points. While keeping that moderate grip pressure secure and intact, throughout, and while disturbing the hands as little as possible, throughout, you activate only your shoulders, back and chest muscles to make a back and downswing. Going back your lower body acts like a bow always tugging to the target. Your upper body acts like the bow string, one against the other. If your shoulders could turn as far, (they can’t – please don’t try) you turn to the top AS IF you would see your club reach all the way around to kiss the very front of the ball before you start back down to pound the very back of the ball. It’s a feeling, not a fact, but it should accompany your motion to make sure you complete the back swing and are on plane. The rest of the swing, the weight shift, the club and arms path, the body sequencing, the natural opening and closing of the club as it revolves around your body, the forming and releasing of a club shaft angle and the whole package should automatically take care of itself. The body coils and uncoils. The shoulder region, only, is consciously activated to make the swing. Amazingly, this mind focus tricks the rest of the body into a natural reflex engaging the legs, hips, feet and everything else into dynamic action. The hands and arms, allowing for a subtle opening and closing of the club and creating and releasing an angle, just hold onto the club.
That’s this technique in it’s simplest description. Of course, there’s a little more to it and I hope to cover all the bases so that, eventually, the simple version is all YOU have to think about. Because there are a variety of ways top players articulate the hands and arms and club and, following a testing process of all methods, I have decided on a move that protects the hands from injury, allowing a slight fanning open and closing of the club and fore arms but short of any excess cupping of the left wrist more than a few degrees. The amount of wrist / club shaft angle used going down is up to each golfer’s capabilities and preferences, the important part being where and when.
There is also one variation I must include in the process, a move I believe will replace the conventional take away, the pre set angle take away. A take away that very slightly sets an angle right away in the wrists. It feels like a tandem move of both the shoulders and hands cocking together right from the start. I believe it is more body friendly and easier on the wrists in that it removes the side tension that occurs back and forth with the club and wrists from take away to the top. It has the effect of suspending the stresses and weight of the club until impact occurs. It will be included at the end of the book so that you can learn this technique the conventional way, first, with the one piece take away. Then you can decide which one you prefer.
What is core dynamics?
A smooth but mighty wrench of the body, both back and forwards, but especially through impact, versus a swinging with the hands back and forward, is what makes a proper golf swing. A succinct description I offer in this book resembles a vertically mounted, spring loaded roll of paper towels. This represents your body proper. You return to impact with more rotation than you made going back to the top. That is, if you turned, say, two paper sheets from address to the top, you return to impact unwinding about two and a half sheets exerting a little extra wrench and weight shift through impact. The purpose is to fully coil and uncoil stable shoulders which orchestrate the swing. Once the arms and hands begin to consciously hit the ball and race past the body this wrenching of the body proper is usurped and rendered less than fully tapped. It is better that the hands just hold onto the shaft angle you created in mid back swing until actual ball contact is made and to allow the body pivot of the legs and hips, mostly, to take up the slack to power the club through. Not that the hands don’t also hit the ball, they do. If the arms and club and body swing together properly all the hands really have to do in a swing, besides aligning the club shaft along the target line, is simply hinge, unhinge and hold on. This technique merely provides them with all the leverage the body can give the hands to hit with. Because the hips and legs are rotating, opening up counter clockwise to the target, they are pulling the shoulders around to catch up which are pulling the arms and club through and in that successive order. Once impact is made this body dynamics and geometry automatically releases the club to the target side of the ball, the right side of your body firing completely around the left side of your body, your whole body pivoting 90 degrees to the finish. You must coordinate the arms, hands and club with the body pivot but it is the body pivot, clockwise going back and counter clockwise going forward, combined with a back and forth weight shift, that powers a proper golf swing.The feeling should be one of being stretched out and of your body getting a workout, besides. A proper golf swing, while feeling effortless, gives the whole body a vigorous workout. It’s a feeling like releasing an arrow from a powerful bow. It’s a little astonishing to find yourself breathing heaviest after swinging in an effortless manner. The idea of the core driven golf swing is to use your big muscles to power the swing and to defer your arms and club to reactionary status and let them cock and un cock to multiply your body forces. This means you use your feet more than you once thought possible. This is a from the inside, out, approach to golf versus an outside, in, approach and just happens to be the method used by the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, but also Sam Snead, and hundreds of others. Snead, in fact, once said that he feels like he is hitting the ball with his stomach at impact. These greats let nature and gravity do most of the work. This fully integrated technique is, I believe, also the most dependable way to play golf, besides being the most powerful, as well. The core of your body, besides providing the dynamics for power, also represents your center of gravity. It must be active, not dormant. From your feet to your shoulders you coil and uncoil. The arms and club coordinate with this, cocking and un cocking at the proper time.
Think of the swing as operating from the ground up through the body from the feet up through the knees, through the hips, through the shoulders, through the elbows, through the hands, and, finally, through the club, and in that order during the delivery. For that matter, the backswing as well only, interestingly, in reverse order. It, too, starts from the ground up even though the shoulders outpace the hips. You will notice that the shoulder led backswing stretches the upper and lower body away from each other and that the lower body led downswing further stretches this relationship as the downswing begins. This represents that extra half sheet of paper towel you add to your downswing, in fact. It gives you a jump on the tightening of this stretch and occurs during the transition and beginning of the downswing. There exists a tug of war, in fact, between the upper and lower bodies. The upper body wants to coil back like a bow string while the legs want to hold firm and tug towards the target simultaneously. Though it may feel like your body would snap in two, you want the feeling of arching your legs towards the target as you start your backswing even as your upper body coils away from the target, all the way to the top, making sure to extend your arms out above your shoulders before starting down. Your legs will give a little near the top but should retain their target ward tension. This forces abdominal and torso muscles – the ones between your shoulders and hips – to stretch. This stretch uncoils with quite a bit of force on the return downswing. It represents, in fact, one of the power sources of the core driven golf swing. If you can do this the downswing explodes all by itself, almost, and in the proper sequence. By stretching your shoulders away from your hips going back your hips are already in proper place for the downswing, now ahead of your shoulders. In a proper golf swing you want the rotational and weight shifting forces in your body proper to whip sling the arms and club through, reflexively, as if the wrists are operating like omni – directional ball sockets and going along with the flow the body provides. The role of the arms and hands is mostly to stay extended and relaxed and to properly control mostly the shaft of the golf club so that is naturally hinges in a target ward direction as much as possible throughout the swing. They also coordinate a wrist cock and release. The release, itself, feels a little like throwing the head past the grip at impact like a missile, yet keeping the hands always racing ahead of the head at the same time. You want a feeling of simultaneously beating the club to the ball with speeding hands while still releasing the club ahead of the hands like a hammer clobbering the ball. The image of burying the club, head first, into a muddy bank a few feet in front of the ball after impact. Both hands and club head competing, all out, for speed through impact. The other matter concerns club face alignment requiring a quieting of fore arm rotation going back. This helps create body coil early in the swing. After half way back the arms rotate and the hands open. During the interval when the club is above the shoulders, during the transition from back to down swing, there is a very slight shift in the geometry of the wrist and club assembly that allows the club face and arms to rotate slightly open and the plane to flatten which very slightly redirects the club to go down from inside to square. This is the “barrel roll” maneuver already mentioned.This is mostly to prevent you from coming “over the top” or above your backswing plane going down. Some golfers are exact enough to the top they need just a hint of this “barrel roll” maneuver. Not a deliberate loop, the ideal path would trace the same path you went back. However, you must guard against any outside loop in the transition. Ideally, during the transition, you want to find the elbows traveling away from the target as your knees begin to move directly to the target and simultaneously gently fling the clubhead exactly opposite the direction you want it to swing back down on. A feeling of “airing out” the swing during the transition. As you take advantage of this outward fling of the club let it’s centrifugal force also pull your hands out and away from you to extend your arms to the top. This accompanies an increase in the angle between your club shaft and your left arm which stores power for release, later. Like an arrow shot straight up in the air that momentarily stalls to a stop as it falls over and starts back down, this maneuver is made during the change of direction in your swing. At the top it may feel a little like flinging the clubhead away from the down swing direction, a last flourish just before starting down towards the target. Ted Williams, the great baseball hitter, used to swing his knee caps directly away from the pitcher as the ball was on it’s way to prompt his legs to fire forward TO the pitcher in a reflexive move. This fling of the club head does the same thing. The feeling of cracking a door open before slamming it. Counter intuitively, the sensation of flinging the clubhead away from impact at the top and preserving that feeling until after impact is the sensation you want. The body, itself, hits the ball as it powers through in a counter-clockwise rotation from the feet to the shoulders. From face front at the top (12 O’clock) position and back to 9:30 O’clock going down is when the wrist / club angle is the greatest. This acute angle is held until about 8:00 O’clock whereupon everything is released to the target side of the ball, body uncoiling powering the arms and club through. The other point in the swing when the fore arms rotate is during release and after impact. Clockwise at the transition, counter clockwise going through. One way of thinking of the proper geometry is to imagine you are going to let go of the club after impact and throw it out to the target as far as you can. This will usually find the shaft is aimed to the target whenever the shaft is parallel to the ground, that is one third back, the top,halfway down and halfway past impact. Because the swing naturally finds the club over your stance line at the top and you swing it down to the ball line at impact there is a natural inside to square component involved in delivering your body mass to the shot . While on the subject, a club rotates end over end five times in a swing; one and a half times to the top and three and a half times back to the finish (go ahead and count!).This understanding should free up your hand action and use of the club so that it acts like a rotating lever, end over end, and not just a swinging vine. Rototiller the club through the ball, end over end, in a sense.
A golf swing is made with the shoulders, more than any other part of your body, They coil fully in both directions while remaining locked in space allowing mostly just for a change of direction and shaft alignment. A core driven golf swing pits the clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation of the body against each other. I call it “rotational compression”. The compression it creates puts so much stress on the body and club during the impact zone that they are forced to unload. Just the act of holding the shoulders steady in a full swing takes a lot of physical strength. A lot of return power is stored in coiling this way automatically uncoiling the body in the downswing. The steady feet and the steady head act like the jaws of a giant vice compressing everything else going on in between holding the center of the swing steady for maximum speed. A weight transfer to the left leg during impact amplifies this dynamic that much more. The hands are pretty busy just holding onto the club as it releases automatically. Most people want to swing mostly from the hands and arms, instead. This is the big difference between pro and amateur golfers. That the lower and middle section of the body wrenches them through the impact zone has to do with ground leverage, unwinding everything from the ground, up, always leading, until impact forces the club to turn over past the hands after impact. The hands still have some throw to them but the shoulders do most of the throwing in a swing. It’s very much a feeling of grabbing the ground with your feet to unwind your body, like a top, counter-clockwise through the ball. Like the sprocket on a bicycle moving under the pressure of the pedals your shoulders don’t have to move a lot to exert power. Just like the pedals rotate the sprocket your feet grab the ground to coil and uncoil your body, especially, the shoulders.
All of this body and arms and club dynamics is made possible with your feet being able to leverage against the ground to power your body into a coil to the top and to then uncoil the body the other way using a weight shift to the target to help power the club through. That is, you coil your shoulders 90 degrees or more through the feet up through your body and this coil is what swings the arms and club to the top. Because it is the body that swings the arms to the top the body often has to wait for the arms and club to catch up before everything, body and club, all start down together, all out to the finish. You do have to wait for the change in direction. In fact, that is how you time your swing. You coil with your body to the top making sure to wait for your arms and club to catch up and only then, when they have swung to the top and there is a change of direction, does everything, from the ground upwards, go forward, all out to the finish. Again, using the bicycle analogy, a little sprocket rotation goes a long way but the shoulders, in this case the sprocket, can’t just burst ahead out of sync. They orchestrate the swing. They exert forward and come against resistance. The feet are grabbing the ground to turn the shoulders up through the rest of the body towards the ball. Until that resistance is relieved by rotation and motion, until the club gradually moves and the body with it it has to just keep the pressure on continually until the whole machine is gradually powered through. It feels a lot like shifting to a higher bicycle gear and patiently just applying constant pressure with the pedals – in this case the shoulders which get traction from the feet – until it moves the weight of the whole bicycle forward. As you focus on the shoulders moving the swing the weight drops down, hips slide targetward and begin to open and the club cocks into the downswing and the weight is transferred to the front leg and the arms drop down ahead of the club and the machine starts to move, ever increasing in speed. You keep applying pressure from the shoulders all the way through to the finish. You want to sequence your motion so that your clubhead is fastest after impact, like a professional tennis player wields his racket. Rotational compression of the whole body from feet to shoulders, back and forward. Imagine turning your shoulders back and forwards with your hand like they were a door knob in such a manner as to maximize clubhead speed through impact. There is a proper pace and punctuation. I teach a smooth start back that progressively increases in speed until well after impact. Like tossing a ball up to hit it with a bat, the first motion is gentle, then the ball ascends, then it stops and then it falls. That kind of a tempo. A downswing, in fact, should take exactly as long as it takes to drop a ball from shoulder height and with the same progression of speed. A feeling of using the laws of gravity describes it well.
This method, in stark contrast to being hard on the back, is actually good for the back because it conditions and exercises the back. It’s when one baby’s the back that improper technique creeps into your swing. It’s important to be in shape and to strengthen your core muscles before anything else, in fact. Otherwise I recommend a gradual approach, at first, until you are properly working your core muscles and they get in shape that way. You must also have strong legs to play golf properly. A desk job without exercise will rob you of 20 percent of your potential power, besides. The beauty of the core driven golf swing is that it keeps these vital muscles in shape and strong. In fact, golf SHOULD be a fitness regimen if done properly. A low impact, muscle stretching and muscle strengthening sport. A good way to stay young and live longer.
My father was doctor and I am very health conscious, generally. I would be surprised if professional golfers don’t start practicing from both sides of their bodies to balance out their muscles or at least engage a regimen that strengthens the opposite side of their body to compensate for the fact that a golf swing has a built in bias that works the left and right sides differently and, if not balanced out, can get in the way of both distance and your spinal health. If anyone wrenched his hips through impact it was Tiger Woods. Perhaps too much so, in fact. More left knee flex during impact may have warded off injuries as well. I suspect his muscles got out of balance because he did not develop a program to balance out his musculature. It is now early 2018 as I write these words and we’ll see if this workout trend, in fact, develops. Any chiropractor will tell you that a golf swing develops one’s right side more than left side above the belt, for example. My chiropractor told me I should swing left handed and actually hit shots to get both sides of my body developed symmetrically or I will hit a distance plateau. So I credit him for passing on this vital information regardless of what system you use to swing a golf club.
Before letting go of issues relating to the health of your body, tour pros, who practice many hours a week, should consider the bias involved in constantly looking at the ball and then the target, always asking the head to rotate only to the left. I practice putting a lot and if I don’t gently but firmly coil my head to my right several times and hold it there to balance my muscles out, I WILL get a sore neck. Similarly, if you use the computer you want to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome from developing in your hands by alternating hands when using the mouse. I channel surf so much with the television remote control I have to constantly switch hands and even fingers and thumbs to keep my hands healthy. If you find yourself using a cellphone a lot you need to do exercises that involve interlocking your hands behind your neck and stretching your face to the sky to keep your neck healthy. Golf is like any other sport or activity. It needs a balanced set of muscles and that involves using compensatory exercises and perhaps even buying a left handed club to hit balls with, occasionally. Golf should be sustainable for a lifetime, in my opinion. It should be a medicine for health, in fact. It should add quality and length to your life. Beyond that it should also be a great vent for aggression and tension allowing you to be as violent as you want with a round piece of plastic. It should keep you tranquil and happy if you do it right.
The arms and club:
In a swing there are two forces working together; the body from your feet to your shoulders including the neck and head, and the other, your arms and club which are connected at the shoulders. The body pivots like an agitator in an upright washing machine, clockwise back and counter- clockwise down only with a back and forth weight shift to amplify power. The arms and club, on the other hand, are busy mostly keeping themselves tension free and extended while aligning the clubshaft for maximum efficiency throughout. They keep the shaft parallel as possible to the target line and they cock and un cock in precise patterns. Everything from the way the shoulders behave to the elbows and hands is disciplined, to say the least. They perform all of this while also releasing the club with all the abandon and freedom they can muster.
The arms and club and the hands, learning to properly configure them throughout the swing, is the hard part of golf technique. It may be pretty easy to coil and uncoil your body from the feet to the shoulders and incorporate a weight shift back and forth unwinding around your left hip and leg through impact, all while maintaining a steady head. Learning just exactly how to position your arms and club and clubface at the same time is not an easy thing to master. Learning how to keep your arms relaxed and tension free and extended throughout and other matters I will try to sort out in this book. For example; the simple act of coiling your shoulders 90 degrees from address to the top position will automatically open up the face of your club 90 degrees. Coincidence or connected? This occurs without independent arm or wrist manipulation. It’s just the way your body is knit together when using a proper grip and grip pressure and keeping that union as undisturbed as possible. Halfway to the top, as your back swing progresses and your right arm starts to fold and momentum starts to create an angle with the club, your fore arms and club rotate clockwise a little. It stays this way, even deepening, until the club is below your waist line going down at which point the fore arms and club rotate counter clockwise, fully. By impact the face is back to square and by waist high on the follow through the face is closed exactly 90 degrees. It’s important that this rotation be kept at 90 degrees on both sides and not to add or subtract to this with arm or wrist manipulation. This should occur even though it feels like you are merely holding onto the club and disturbing your hands as little as possible in the process of swinging the club. From mid downswing to mid follow through the face rotates 180 degrees. In fact, much of this is due to body rotation. The hands mostly hold on. This neutral, natural opening and closing of the hands is easiest on the body. It mates best with a somewhat upright swing plane.
If you prematurely rotate your arms going back, or cock the wrists too much, too early you will retard your vital body coil to the top. Quiet hands and fore arms, initially, solves this. After half way back you have to open the hands and club a little, even flinging the club away from impact a little at the top to start your downswing. This fling is made in the exact opposite direction you want your downswing path to take. As important in putting as the full swing, this subtle fling of the clubhead away from the ball as you move into your downswing determines the path your downswing will make. In putting you simply pendulum back through. In the full swing this feels like that is all the hands do in a swing. The next sensation is impact, itself, as they automatically release. While the hands may have to actually stop some at the top the clubhead actually doesn’t. It makes a tiny fish hook maneuver just beneath the path to the top, not a “V” configuration, but a “U” configuration, allowing the club to stay in motion as if you are gradually increasing speed from take away to past impact. Even if the club actually stops it should feel like it is barreling through a fish hook U-turn to preserve the feeling of maintaining a gradual increase of speed, a U-turn that involves, also, a very slight inside to square return path that is just below the backswing plane. Imagine a “U” shaped joint in your home plumbing and how water flows just as fast through it as everywhere else. A “V” shaped kink, not so much. This “U” shape is no larger than the diameter of a golf ball. This shift just mentioned, involves a small loop that also occurs at this stage of the transition. Compared to the club’s path to the top it falls slightly straight down, away from and behind the golfer creating a small inside to square loop. This is part of the natural straightening of the club and the left arm as the body draws tight. I describe the move as a “barrel roll” with the wrists. It’s important not to force a loop but rather guard against a loop above your backswing path as you transition.. The right palm rolls slightly skyward. This is a result of your body lowering itself to get down to the ball as it starts down as well as a move left. As your lower body starts to wrench counter-clockwise towards the target your wrists absorb this stress by rotating a little the opposite way – clockwise – in this instance. You don’t bob your head up or down. It’s a sensation of shifting your weight to get in position for delivery. This inside to square loop, however small, is vital to making golf an easier game to play in spite of the lack of coverage it gets in most instruction books. It is a key move in a good golf swing. Besides routing the club around your shoulders for power, it sets the club up to swing out to where your ball is sitting, well in front of you. Best of all it keeps you from coming over the top on the way down, a death move. Meanwhile the clubhead path, but for that tiny “U” shaped, inside loop move, resembles a crescent moon from takeaway to impact. The post impact path reveals that the entire arc has shifted about a foot from back to downswing paths. Like two very large hula hoops leaned against a wall one a foot ahead of the other. In this book I refer to a snappy transition zone. This is one reason why. You want gradual acceleration from take away to the finish. This subtle fling of the clubhead away from impact as you start down also instills the vital sensation of centrifugal force and lets you know where the clubhead is. This is the hand’s one, conscious chance to contribute to the core driven golf swing technique. Except for a precise move the first few feet back with the club, arms and shoulders all acting as one, and keeping the wrists quiet until halfway back, this fling at the top is all you should have to think about regarding your hands in a swing. Allowing for a small inside to square loop, make sure it is exactly opposite the desired path back down. It develops a reflexive downswing and “airs out” the transition. Like tossing a ball up before you hit it. Like cracking a door open before slamming it shut. This fling away from impact as you transition can be more or less pronounced depending on one’s particular style or pace. It is not an absolute requirement but I recommend it to help trigger a responsive downswing. A subtle move, not a radical one.
I used to cup my left wrist at the top, like Freddy Couples does, for decades. Few golfers I have ever seen in the flesh swing as beautifully as Freddy does. Poetic power is how I describe his action. I learned, while writing this book, that I am less gifted than he and I now use a more reliable technique that finds my left wrist relatively straight at the top with the club face parallel to my left arm. This involves less clock wise rotation of my arms going back, my club opening only 90 degrees. Whereas before my wrist cupped about 15 degrees and my club face rotated about 105 degrees. I feel much more solid and efficient now that I have made the change. Efficiency versus flamboyancy of motion.
On the other hand, I experienced hand injuries while experimenting with a convex wrist style that some pros use. Even the straight wrist position has caused some problems, perhaps having to do with another experiment with altering clubhead paths back and down. I have adjusted to a very slight cupping at the top. I find that the clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation of the arms and the open to close rotation of the club head,- toe over heel – through impact is vital to NOT injuring myself in the future.
Now I recommend quiet hands until halfway back and then I allow for an opening of the club to the top. I make sure I don’t cup my left wrist more than three or four degrees. The amount you create when simply making a fist. Beyond that things can get out of control easily. Now I allow the natural 90 degree opening and closing of the club on both sides of the ball. Not counting the extra foot pivot at the finish this allows 180 of total rotation. No more and no less. This still requires me, given my old habits, to emphasize almost zero knuckle rotation the first few feet back. For you just keep the hands secure and as undisturbed as you can as your shoulders swing the club back. As if your club, grip and fore arms were cemented in a cast with the the club initially, the unit going straight back from the ball the first few feet. Momentum, alone, will allow them to cock a little as everything starts to climb inward and above your stance line. You don’t want to swing straight back and get pulled off balance towards your toes. You have to swing square to inside a little going back. Going back the face looks towards the ball at first. Going down the heel of the club leads the toe which follows like a comet’s tail until the release zone below the waist. This is a result of that subtle “barrel roll” at the top with your arms / club assembly. This change going down allows you to also draw power from your shoulders more as it maneuvers the club around your shoulders instead of your neck. To make this as accurate as the other method I, instead, borrow more from the target line swinging more directly straight back and straight through. It’s still a square to inside to square back to inside path but more straight back and upright than before. Shots to the right are inhibited because the club HEAD is at least going straight to the target even if the face is a little open at impact. The shot won’t go as far right. Similarly, because the after impact direction of the head is also straight, any over closing of the face will be offset by the heads straight path. That’s because the swing is less inside out than before. In either case, there is no extra effort to open or close the face but, rather, just allowing physics to play itself out, naturally. This method is also easier when playing from the rough. This motion creates a larger club head arc and, in turn, winds the body up more as well. I believe this is the method Jack Nicklaus used, in fact; opening and closing the hands a little back and through while borrowing from the target line more with a more upright plane. A devastatingly accurate combination. As mentioned elsewhere in this book, the release is like throwing the club ahead of the hands at impact, as if to bury the club head first into a muddy bank a few feet ahead of the ball, while swinging the hands always ahead of the club at the same time. On the one hand you are throwing the club ahead of the handle like shooting it out of a cannon. On the other hand your hands are just as determined to beat the club through and beyond impact. An all out, two horse race borrowing a little extra from the target line.
So, you see, there is a transition back and down that occurs between the club and hands. As the swing tightens itself and draws your club and left arm straight your wrist / club assembly falls ever so slightly down and behind you a little, everything a little flatter going down than it was going back. A slight clockwise rotation of the forearms as your lower body starts it’s counter-clockwise move down helps absorb the stress of the change of direction. This routes the club around your powerful back and shoulder muscles instead of just your neck. At the same juncture you also begin to increase your club / wrist angle. During the transition and the first part of the downswing is the proper time as the body can race ahead of the hands while the club angle is increased. The angle increase creates slack for the lower body to move left without undo resistance. Two birds with one stone.
When you watch Rory Mcilroy make his poetic move you will notice that his back swing seems a little more straight back than his down swing which loops ever so slightly down and behind him before it’s all guns blazing to the target. This is what efficient mechanics looks like. Much of this has to do with the fact that the downswing arc is a foot or more towards the target than the back swing arc. Even Jack Nicklaus, who stressed trying to match the back and downswing paths, had an element of this crucial move. ( I’ve checked and he BARELY makes this move, but he makes it.) You will notice that, as his lower body starts to pivot counter clockwise to the target, his fore arms simultaneously fold clockwise, the opposite way, allowing the face to rotate open pivoting his right elbow in front of him as he collects an angle with his left arm and club on the way down. Whether your hand action is flamboyant like Sergio Garcia or subdued like Steve Stricker or in between like Jack Nicklaus, this is a vital part of any golf swing.
Finally, you have to have the correct paths back and forward so you don’t have to compensate. I recommend the following; swing the club handle straight back to the top so that it arrives above your stance line – a line between the heel and balls of your feet – and above your right shoulder. The actual club may get a little behind your stance line as it nears the top but not the grip end. Once the club is parallel at the top then the entire club should be above your feet. In other words, there is a ball target line and a stance target line. Your hands start out somewhere between these two lines. Swing the hands from their address position straight back at first and let them arrive directly above your feet. Do this while keeping the clubshaft aligned as parallel to the target as you can. Then you will not have to compensate coming down and you’ll get the most out of your technique. The correct pro path is more direct and straightforward than contrived. When standing behind a golfer looking down the target line a path from the ball up through just above the shoulders is the general path the pros take to the top. There is a swing inside as the club moves to above the shoulders but it is slight. The club head may get a little behind them near the top half of the backswing but never the grip end. The downswing descends just below that backswing plane as the left arm and club tighten into a straight line. This moves that line from the ball directly through the shoulders. The other way to achieve correct geometry is to try to make a back swing that would find the club head at the top kissing the very front of the ball, from your point of view – if you had so supple a set of shoulders in the first place – before it went down to pound the very back of the ball. It’s a feeling to strive for, even with a three quarter swing. A common trait among golfers who start back too inside is they come down too outside and vice versa for those who start back too far outside. They come down too inside. The idea is to iron out all those kinks and compensations with a straightforward tilted plane and minimal distortion, sewing the two motions into one whole allowing for that small inside to square loop as you transition forward, all while keeping the club shaft parallel to the target line as much as possible. I mentioned that this more upright plane involves a more vigorous use of the body. It does. Imagine a spring loaded roll of paper towels mounted VERTICALLY and imagine it’s top is your shoulders. Now, pull straight back PARALLEL to the target so maybe two sheets are pulled back. Now, return those two sheets back to impact but add a little extra tug and wrench to the return so that you actually return from the top to impact using maybe two and a half sheets. This represents the weight shift and the body wrenching that tightens the link between body and club that produces centrifugal force. It’s a great image to describe a golf swing, generally. Actually, the preceding sentence sums up the essence of what I teach. Imagine pulling the sheets straight back from the shoulders parallel to but not aimed at the target line. Your body coils somewhat straight back instead of more to the inside. This forces the body to “giddy-up” and coil even more to reach the top and finish positions, say an extra five percent in both directions. The feeling is like reeling out more fishing line than you’re used to as the body and arms gather width. The return is just as dynamic.You will find your body core coils and uncoils more like a revolving door does in this kind of swing. You will find even your feet getting a workout in both directions. It’s important that the shoulders coil the swing and clubshaft back PARALLEL to the target line and to align the club shaft PARALLEL to the target line rather than aligning or aiming TO the target line. The top of the paper towel roll that represents your shoulders is the point from which you pull straight back PARALLEL to the target line. Like a SEPARATE railroad track that is also parallel to the target line. One reason many tour players find themselves laid off at the top is because they are aiming the butt of their grip TO the target line at the top instead of aiming it PARALLEL to the target line. Golf is hard enough and swinging everything in one general direction, which happens to be PARALLEL to the target, is all you should need to worry about.
This epiphany regarding hand action is almost like the one Ben Hogan had after his car crash. While I don’t advocate his cupped left wrist and some other adjustments he used, the concept is the same. By adhering more to the target line, straight back and through, whatever club face miscues exist are minimized by the club HEAD direction which is more accurate all by itself. This method allows you to naturally open up and close the club but keep the shots straight by keeping the club PATH straighter. Jack Nicklaus personified this move. That it increases your coil and arc is a bonus. A swing this full and flowing takes time and you should avoid rushing things, allowing the speed to happen relying on a powerful target ward weight shift and pivot of the lower body and a full turnover and release of the club. Focus on the coiling and uncoiling of the stable shoulders and being smooth but snappy during the change in direction, saving the most speed for impact and beyond.
There is another way to track the club; along an extended ARC instead of a line. That is, if there were a tee inserted into the butt end of your grip, instead of tracking straight back parallel to your target it would track an arc about 8 to 12 yards long, depending on which club, that extends from your stance line through your ball line instead of a line parallel to your target. This is a more centered way to play golf and makes it easier to keep your center of gravity. This is how many greats have played. Just think of the target line, instead of being a straight line, as being one big arc aligned in the general direction of the target and swing the club along it’s path, the ball positioned at it’s apex. I like to think of this as swinging from the ball line to the foot line to the top and then back to the ball line at impact and then back to the foot line at the finish. Regardless of which style you use both methods find the club swinging through along an arc and not a straight line. The club orbits around your center of gravity, from top to finish. This style may be better for elderly or frail golfers who have lost some of their youthful vigor. If mastered it can perform as well and as powerfully as the more upright, body stretching style. Even the world’s best golfer could succeed with this style. Some think it is a more natural Experiment with both techniques and you may find one works better for you than the other.
There is also the matter of where and when to cock the club and where and when to maximize this angle and where and when to release the club to the target. All of this will be explained in this, dare I say it, ground breaking book about how to swing a golf club. You will find that only I am discussing much of what is inside.
I believe that HOW one thinks about a movement makes all the difference. How an idea is explained. I hope to give you, the reader, the best thoughts to create the best results. The word “wrench”, for example, best describes what I believe a body does in a golf swing.
To get you up to speed with all this allow me to just present a lot of what is inside, up front, at first, to just get you oriented a little.
There are some very important thoughts one needs to swing a golf club correctly; things like having your lower body angle slightly towards the target at the top position while the torso angles slightly away from the target……making sure that the hands and arms move quickly ahead of the club once the downswing has begun…. learning to make your shoulder rotation, clockwise and counter clockwise, orchestrate the rest of the body…keeping the shoulders centered in space at the same time…..girding your feet in a clockwise manner going back and a counter-clockwise manner going forward in order to move the shoulders in like manner….doing this in tandem with a right to left weight shift of mostly the hips to increase tension between your weight and the club weight like fingers do spinning a weighted object on a string; that small circle of motion operating the larger circle at the other end, always staying just ahead of it at all times end…swinging your arms and the club outwards throughout the swing…starting your back swing with the arms and club and mostly back and shoulders floating together, one piece, the first few feet, all operating in tandem with a subtle shuttle of the hips, back and forward…having both body and hands trying to accumulate leverage, simultaneously, to the top and finish and how these two competing forces cancel out over use on either side providing a fantastic balance, like book ends, for a swing…getting from the top position (point A) to impact (point B) with utter dispatch and speed, like releasing an arrow from a bow, all out to the finish, right from the start down…pitting your counter-clockwise downswing rotation against your clockwise back swing motion to create rotational compression…..arriving with the club face parallel to the left arm at the top position….making sure that maximum wrist cock occurs only after the downswing has begun, the first half of the downswing, and not elsewhere…. leveraging or “wrenching” your body in the hitting zone while holding the hands back until ball contact….swinging the club shaft parallel to the target line as much as possible throughout the swing….relying on shaft alignment to control face alignment…transferring your weight hard onto your left leg before impact… going back the upper body leads the lower body…. going forward the lower body leads the upper body through impact to maximize centrifugal force pushing upwards with your legs against the downward thrust of the club…fully releasing past the ball, head over handle and toe over heel….doing all of the above beneath a reasonably steady head.
And that’s just some of the thoughts that I have recognized, lately, as vital to good golf technique. In fact, even if you happen to be a Sam Snead or Seve Ballesteros, who taught themselves mostly, you really must rely on certain swing thoughts to make your body perform what is considered an unnatural motion. When I was taught golf all I needed was to think of taking a divot in front of the ball, straight left arm and steady head. My boyhood days of skipping rocks on water, throwing a baseball, hitting a baseball, bowling, and such allowed me to require just a handful of thoughts to get a grasp of a good golf swing. Some of the golf swing is a natural motion and some of it must be taught. Even the world’s best golfers need to be taught what they weren’t born knowing. Exactly what you think and how you think of a golf swing makes a huge difference.
Certain thoughts are like magic while others fizzle and don’t work. I have identified the ones that really do work and have my own opinions about how much hand flourish and wrist action and other style elements give one the best chances of success. It really is the brain that is the most important muscle in a swing, the central computer, if you will, of a swing. Certain body parts work better than others in orchestrating a swing. I have identified the shoulders as the swing’s true center and have discovered that using them to dictate the rest of the upper body motions works like magic and makes the swing more integrated and less isolated and prone to failure or breakdown. I say that the back and shoulders lead the body back and forward through ground contact with the feet against a resisting lower body going back that is always tugging targetward. This gives your torso muscles a good workout. In that sense the upper and lower bodies work in tandem, together. Going back the shoulders outpace everything to the top. Going down, just the opposite. The left leg begins to wrench forward first but mostly because the feet, which hide their dynamics from the eye, are leveraging the ground unwinding everything from the ground up. This even though your mind is focused on your shoulders making the down swing. At impact, as your weight lands onto your left leg, the middle of your body is wrenching your upper body through. By the finish the shoulders have released, passed up and outpaced everything that led them to impact, rotating more than any other part of the body. From top to finish the shoulders actually rotate approximately 220 degrees! The hips only 135 degrees.
I have learned that the traditional right to left weight shift most instruction teaches fails to account for the rotational clockwise and counter clockwise, girding of the feet that must rotate the shoulders, likewise, in both directions and that the body senses where to re-distribute weight to various body joints to best enhance the production of centrifugal force and that the whole notion of weight shift must be re examined. For example; there is a downward shift of your weight as you start the downswing before the right to left shift is added to that. You have to shift diagonally down and left, in other words. When you catch that weight at impact landing on your left leg all your coil dynamics are forced to release.
Another thing to consider is the riddle involving all this motion while maintaining a fixed sense of balance. Is it possible that the weight shift is really a result of the body redistributing body parts via muscular control? Sometimes it feels like the center of gravity stays constant even while the left foot, for example accepts the brunt of weight at impact or the right foot at the top. The golf swing is a motion made while standing still. Only the lower body and lower spine moves left and right with the club while the upper body holds it’s ground mostly just coiling and uncoiling in place. So what is weight shift, really? There is the indisputable fact of a general shift of weight to the target from the top which results in a foot long lateral shift of the swing arc between the back and down swings. One large Hoola Hoop leaned against a wall next to another a foot in front of the other as mentioned earlier. There is also the shift going back to one’s right foot and hip. In this regard there is a third Hoola Hoop just a few inches ahead of the backswing arc that represents the address position, the forward shift being the greater, by far. Is this shift made by simply moving body parts in a manner to redistribute pressure points at various intervals during the swing to maximize centrifugal force? It’s very possible and I don’t pretend to know the answer. Just manipulating the shoulder muscles moves club and arm weight to the right which will automatically shift weight to the right hip. Even without foot pressure manipulation. And yet, this very act automatically engages the feet which have to maintain balance. The shoulders can’t move at all if the feet won’t support the move. It would be hard to swing the club while standing on a floor of loose ball bearings, for example. Going down is more complicated. You have to get out ahead of the club before you can move it forward. This requires moving various body parts into position, first. This redistributes pressure to various body joints at different intervals. This has a dynamic effect on the club and how much body weight it can transmit. I prefer to think of a move of my center of gravity beneath a steady head to the target during the change of direction at the top. This seems to make the legs and hips shuttle to the target, unconsciously, which tightens the coil made going back. By the time the weight is on the left foot the body is coiled so tight it has to explode and unwind around the axis of the left leg and hip during impact and beyond. And, yet, your overall balance stayed intact and in one place. The whole motion was confined to space between your feet.
Beneath this entire dynamic is the quest to create the same motion one’s fingers make in spinning a weight on a string; a tiny, circular motion that places the grip tension of the string exactly opposite the weight it is swinging. A pulling tight of the string at all times. An ever changing dynamic that depends on where the club is at any given juncture. This happens to thrust various body parts into various positions to best harness and release all this motion. A combination of pressure points and body parts dancing in tandem with a club and club head. This all suggests that there is a circular weight shift and not just back and forth. When Tiger Woods, for example, occasionally bobbed his head up and down he was, no doubt, trying to lower his weight so that he could then push up with his legs at impact to spin that weighted object using centrifugal force. If I had to limit the move to one direction instead of a circle I would suggest a diagonal move down and left from the top with the weight and that the weight would then transfer to a pushing up of the left leg and hip against the downward force of the swinging club head as it releases through impact and beyond.
So, overall, I’d suggest that the real weight shift is more of a small circle within the larger circle of the orbiting club head, back and forward and up and down, always tugging opposite of and ahead of the weighted object being swung. No up and down bobbing of the head or moving left and right outside the boundaries of your feet. yet preserving that circular force throughout. Think of watching a chick hatch out of it’s egg. There is a lot of movement going inside the shifting egg even though the egg, itself, remains in place.
Some other notions I encourage is shaft control to achieve accuracy; keeping it aimed to the target whenever it is parallel to the ground (finish excluded) that is, one third back, at the top and halfway down and halfway through past impact. Making unnecessary moves such as too much forearm rotation slows a swing down as opposed to a move that is more economical. What’s especially important is shaft direction control. I think it’s better to have a smooth back swing than a fast one. I think the transition from back swing to downswing should be smooth but adroit and quick, once you start down, to stay ahead of the club and that the top to impact zone should be done with utter dispatch while saving your fastest speed for impact and after. As I mentioned earlier, the arms and hands should be slung ahead of the club, which lags behind, as you start down. Not only that, but as if they, alone, with no club, were hitting the ball, full of speed at the impact zone. I believe that the whole club, not just the club head, needs speed at impact. Although it may feel like all parts are going down together, all out to impact, it is the body that races ahead of the arms and hands and that they then race ahead of the club creating an acute angle with the club in mid downswing. You see, this is what creates the powerful angle between the hands and club head; this slinging action of the arms and hands before the club. Even before the arms and club can do their job, like a pitcher throwing his leading leg forward to throw a pitch, the hips and legs race ahead of it all in that first burst of speed from the top.
The golf swing is more like a throwing motion than any other motion. In my technique the throw is made more from the shoulders than anywhere else. The arms and club are thrown as one synchronized unit from the shoulders. It must be said that the hands remain active, too, they have their fair share of throw, but are part of a greater throw made from the shoulders. The shoulder rotation is made possible with ground traction and mid body wrenching to power them back and through. This is what separates the pros from the amateurs who throw just with the hands, in a sense. In order to throw the arms and club through from your shoulders your lower body has to get into position, first. The all out attempt to get speed all the way from the top position to impact tricks the lower body to do just that. That’s why the transition zone is no place to dawdle. The club does catch up, automatically, but also automatically slows the hands down in the process. You must swing in such a way as to resist this slowing down of the hands and swing all the way to the finish. The proper dynamics is an inside to square move that transfers weight slightly to the right of the target line even though the club goes through impact square. In other words the weight is transferred from 4:00 O’clock to 10:00 O’clock (if you were standing on a clock face facing 12 O’clock) even though the club goes from 3:00 O’clock to 9:00 O’clock. Besides shifting weight to the target you must also transfer your weight DOWNWARD on the shot at the same time, hitting down on the ball. Once at the top position the hands swing from above the right shoulder towards the target line, down, and then chase the ball flight with the club head until the club is over your left shoulder at the finish…..an “under, up” move going back and a “down and out” move down versus an “over, down and across” move. Use a take away that cocks the club without undo forearm rotation as it climbs to the top and then swing down slightly inside to square sending the hands chasing the ball’s flight. An out to the target move until well after impact at which point the club travels back up over the left shoulder. Some modern swings today violate this law and it costs them leverage and distance, in my opinion. It has to do with one’s center of gravity and the fact that it is operating from the stance line and transferring energy to the ball line. Jack Nicklaus, for example, has the correct move; inside to square to inside to square, not just straight back and through. Another way of describing the proper shift is from ball line to stance line back, and then from stance line to ball line down and back again to stance line at the finish. On the other hand, as I write these words, golfers like Dustin Johnson are showing me a new way to swing the club that involves a one dimensional plane as well as a wrist cock that begins as soon as the swing does that deserves consideration. Like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson is inventing technique as he searches for the truth. It may be groundbreaking even though I do not yet fully understand it. I don’t think anyone has ever swung like Dustin Johnson since golf began. So there is always something out there to be discovered that might improve golf. Nobody has all the answers. Especially about golf.
The fundamental thrust of this book is to show you HOW your body works so that your body can swing your arms and club – a system also called the Gravity Golf system . It requires grabbing the ground with your feet in a rotational manner – clockwise and then counter-clockwise and letting that force rotate the shoulders, mostly, in both directions and not just a weight shift laterally, back and forth. In fact these two motions occur at the same time; lateral weight shifting back and forth as well as the rotational foot action, clockwise back and counter-clockwise forward. The hands and arms and club must position themselves for maximum efficiency but mostly just go along for the ride while the shoulders coil and uncoil. Whatever natural instincts the hands and arms have to hit the ball are but part of a bigger system of levers that merely incorporates them to add their influence. Their job is to stay extended and soft and responsive, all the while making sure the shaft is aligned properly and cocks and un cocks properly. In a counter intuitive way, the proper feeling is to set an angle with your wrists early in the back swing and, without any attempt to hit the ball with your hands, just maintain that angle until impact, itself. You will find that this mental thought process forces the body to gyrate through impact in a counter-clockwise manner as it should, allowing the shoulders and wrists to hang onto their cock until the last moment, whereupon everything releases to the target beneath a steady head. In simpler language, by quieting down the hands you automatically liven up the body. To understand why this is a vital, even central point of this book, you need to appreciate that, if you independently try to swing the arms past the body and use the hands to hit the ball this will automatically retard your core body rotation through impact. Conversely, if you retard the hands during the impact zone and hold back the angle you created until actual ball contact it will automatically force your body core to wrench counter-clockwise, instead. This is what slings the upper body, arms and club through past impact. As I said earlier, consider the golf swing a throw of the arms and club, together, through impact from the SHOULDERS rather than a throw of the club from just the hands and arms. If you do this both arms and club function properly, automatically so long as the elbows align ahead of the hands towards impact while allowing everything to turn over after impact. It is definitely a move that takes some practice to master and you will find you have to use other thoughts, sometimes opposite thoughts at times, to make your swing work, but this is, in my opinion, the secret to top level golf technique. After contact is made the club releases to the target because your body is leveraging it to. Jack Nicklaus and many of the greatest golfers of all time used this method that puts the big muscles to work to pivot the body rotationaly, like a record player, around it’s center to generate centrifugal force. As opposed to swinging WITH the hands and arms, this method swings THROUGH the hands and arms which get their power from body forces. They are the conduit that releases the forces the body weight transfer and pivot create. Swinging from the inside of your center of gravity out, not vice versa. This is a much more reliable and effortless and powerful way to play the game. It is also somewhat unnatural for most people who are not born with natural talent to learn and needs a little explaining. A child might, on the other hand, stumble onto it all accidentally, it’s so correct, if his mind is free of all other incorrect concepts, first. In his quest to want to use his hands to their utmost he subconsciously calls upon the rest of the body to assist and give them maximum leverage. The body comes to the hands rescue to give them force, instinctively. Most people, however, use their hands in other things in ways that get in the way of proper golf technique.
One way to feel how the body swings the arms is to quiet the hands down to zero motion – no appreciable wrist cock or anything,. throughout, and swing back and through the ball anyway, powering the whole swing with just your chest, back and shoulder muscles.. You will discover your body pivoting in a rotational manner as if standing on a record player, spinning from the feet up through the rest of the body. This exaggerated style also produces some of the straightest shots you’ll ever hit.
To make a conventional core driven golf swing you just add a little hand flourish near the top, allowing the hands to then rotate open a little and make a wrist angle going down and Ka-Boom!.
Whenever you hear the phrase; “You quit on the shot” or “You didn’t stay with the shot” it really means that your body stopped wrenching the rest of the swing through. When that happens the club goes through like a wet noodle. Throughout, the body is more like a tornado, either clockwise going back or counter-clockwise going forward, than like a fench post.
These are some of the key points I try to illuminate to hurry you, the golfer, along the best path I know of to become a better golfer.
My apologies if you are left handed. To save ink and paper I have written this book for the right handed player. My father was a lefty, too. Just reverse the left and right and you’ll be fine.
All of this intense concentration has taught me that there is no black and white, all or nothing, approach to a golf swing. It’s a combination of shoulder and body coil and recoil and arms and hands, combined, all compounded by the hip shuttle back and forth with the legs and feet. They all have an ideal way to function and my job is to get your body to do just that. I intend to give you the right mental thoughts so that you can virtually manufacture a good swing out of thin air, look up and see straight, long shots with seemingly minimal effort, consistently. There IS a single “best” way, depending on build, I believe, to swing a club, one with no extraneous motion but with all the best motion that taps the elements of nature. More, I hope to give you a road map you can trust so that you don’t waste time and effort on the wrong things. You should be able to fix your own swing with what I hope to teach you. I teach the “why” behind the “what” in golf so you will know how a swing works or fails. Maintaining a swing is like maintaining a long lived automobile. There are lots of areas you always have to stay on top of and these areas of focus change as your game does. Much of what you can control concerns body parts and I hope to give you an operators manual covering that department. Ultimately I show you how to tie everything together and, if necessary, provide some drills that I find helpful.
My golf credentials have as much to do with my prowess at solving mysteries that confound others as much as my golf back round which is less outstanding, but considerable, perhaps. Even just writing this book has taught me a lot I didn’t know until having to actually sit down for several months and think about it very seriously, every facet. When I occasionally would run into a contradiction I had to come to a resolution, once and for all. Hundreds of practice sessions where I tested all these ideas for merit, over and over, have shown me which ideas work and which don’t. I am a much better golfer for it, besides. So, if writing this book can help me, I think reading it can help you, too. Beyond that I am advantaged in that I think more outside the box than most other authors or instructors.
When I began this book I had at least three swing flaws that I’ve corrected. (1): I used to over rotate my forearms going back, even cupping the left wrist slightly, and then rotate them the other way going down. Now I only move what is important and find myself getting more effective cocking in my wrists with more of a neutral motion than an opening of the wrists going back, which collapsed my wrists as it turned out. Not a bowed configuration like many modern players but a straight wrist at the top instead of a cupped left wrist like I had before. The club face now sets at about 45 degree angle at the top and not the toe down shape I once had. I now get more, not less, distance. 2): The second change I made while writing this book was to introduce SOME hip and shoulder “TILT” and not just turn to my swing. 3); My grip was not intact enough or firm enough. It has to be air tight and firm enough to keep it that way. I now have a medium, light pressure at address and more firm than before. You CAN have too loose of a grip, I have learned. In fact, a slightly firm, unified grip better coordinates your whole body as the arms are better integrated. The wrists remain supple.This applies to all golf shots including chips, lob shots and pitch shots and even putts. Whereas my former grip pressure was 2.0 on a scale of 01 to 10 it is now about a 3.5 with evenly distributed pressure in both hands. In putting I went from a 1.0 to a 2.5 grip pressure.
As you will find I am introducing a second method of swinging a club that employs an immediate wrist cock as the swing begins that changes body tensions and works a little differently but both methods adhere to what I teach in this book, otherwise. This alternative method I stumbled onto after beginning this book and it has impressed me enough to make it a must read item. Indeed, I would not be surprised if most tour players use it in decades to come. The major difference is you have to consciously coil the shoulders, feeling them as they spin in space, since the centrifugal tension of the club hides until impact.
I use analogies to give the reader a mental picture of what I’m trying to describe; Using the inside of a bicycle rim and tracking a golf tee sliding down the rim to impact as it sticks out of your grip’s end, as if you stuck a tee into the hole of your grip, exactly describes how the hands work and release in a swing. The tee points to the ball going down and then, after the hands turn over through impact, the tee now points to where the ball was before it was hit, the shaft now aiming to the target, yet the tee still rides the inside rim of the wheel like a tilted circle aimed to the target. That’s just one example. I don’t have the luxury of hands on teaching and these analogies are the best way I know how to convey the information you will need.
This book was inspired decades ago when Jack Nicklaus, no less, personally responded to a letter I sent him about the golf swing about an epiphany I had that vaulted my golf to a new level. Whatever the import of what I had to say I knew I would have to satisfy myself what the real truth was, after all. Now that I am motivated to find out, after a decades long sabbatical from serious golf, I had a very good notion of what a good golf swing was all about and came across David C. Lee’s Gravity Golf tapes and realized, whatever else I did, to make this basic approach to a swing my framework to start from. I couldn’t deny the effortlessness of the technique or that Jack Nicklaus, perhaps, used it, fundamentally, anyway.
This technique involves mostly a heaving of tension free arms away from address originating in the shoulders and back, transferring weight to the right to the top and then counter falling left, your weight landing on your left leg at impact as your hips pivot out of the way of the club with the club swinging to the target as if gravity, itself, seemingly carries the club through to the finish, the ball just getting in the way, I knew that this was the way I wanted to teach golf. As such, this book is titled; “The Core Driven Golf Swing” as it is the big muscles and body parts that provide the bulk of power coupled with proper weight transference. In a sense, similar to lifting a barbell over one’s head and then dropping the weight so that it falls as hard as possible on the ground, letting gravity do a lot of the work. This book title recognizes that it is the hips and the shoulders and how they work together in a scissor like manner to power the swing along with the weight transfer. The use of the arms and hands maximizes the dynamics in how they create and release an angle with the club shaft in conjunction with the right arm folding on the back swing and straightening at impact. Add to that the hip’s shuttle effect in conjunction with developing an acute angle with the club shaft in mid down swing all trapped within the rotational compression of your whole body, first clockwise and then counter clockwise, and you have a compound action loaded with dynamics. I had many other influences I will go into as well, at least fifty, plus, books I have devoured over the years. Additionally, I studied for several years under Ben Doyle of Carmel Valley, California decades ago. Ben passed away recently and I always wanted to pass the torch he was teaching. He was renowned in teaching circles and taught the one time best amateur golfer in the world, Bobby Clampett, achieving top 100 teacher status in America. He taught from Homer Kelley’s “The Golfing Machine”, a very scientific approach, with a good measure of Ben Hogan style in the mix. Jack Nicklaus, my hero, of course, was my biggest influence yet an obscure book from the 30’s or 40’s from Alex Morrison really did wonders for my game and this, too, will emerge as a big part of this book. Alex Morrison showed me the value of using the shoulder turn as a fundamental move for golf and orchestrating a swing from basically just two positions; a turn a way from the target and a turn through to the target, the shoulders being the focus. It’s amazing just how much the shoulders have to do with the rest of the swing, as if they were at the center of activity, throughout. There is a hands and arms component that works in conjunction with this fully integrated body pivot but the pivot is at least as important. It is the reservoir of force the arms and hands rely on for support.
As much as I am a fan of Nicklaus’ technique, his is pretty close to Sam Snead’s and I happen to have a face front swing series of Snead in his prime, so I will use both as a template and also to teach myself, from studying their positions, what really happens in a great golf swing. The series with Snead is over one hundred shots of one swing in real time and it is an invaluable tool as such as timing and tempo can be analyzed and not just form.
Both Nicklaus and Snead share a full swinging style of technique, Jack using his legs more aggressively, Snead relying on mostly shoulder coil and recoil. They both seem to epitomize the “Gravity Golf” system of letting nature do most of the work, the big muscles powering the swing in an effortless manner, full of soaring power, like releasing an arrow from a strong bow.
Additionally, I include the swing and teaching’s of Mike Austin, an under appreciated virtuoso golfer who also happened to be the world’s longest golfer, ever. All with a swing so graceful you’d swear he was only using half his strength. Nicklaus’s body action is so similar I’m curious did Jack Grout teach him the Austin swing, all along? I know he shaped a lot of golfer’s swings in his day and was once among America’s top ten golf instructors.
Mostly, just to teach you how to activate your “core”- the use of leveraging your shoulder bones against your hip bones – I will introduce you to the Moe Norman technique. Moe Norman is a legend and considered, perhaps, the best ball striker and most consistent and accurate ball striker, ever. With a wide spread stance and outreaching, raised arms his is a study of choking off the legs and arms and reducing the swing to just the minimal use of the body core to propel the club. With the ball several inches farther away at address it also teaches you to throw your shoulders down into the ball as it is struck. Moe addresses the club almost a foot behind the ball position at address which requires him to move to the target to get to the ball from the top – a distinct right to left move that uses the left hip as an axis to leverage the upper body around. His weight is already shifted back at address and it feels like a one sided shift to the target around the left hip socket, mostly. Every good swing should have a little of the Moe Norman logic behind it and, of all the techniques I have found, his actually produces startling results. It certainly has the fewest moving parts of any other technique I have seen. The most notable characteristic of his swing is that his address places his hands in a straight line from his shoulders to the ball duplicating impact angles before he starts his swing. This eliminates the slack that normally has to be adjusted for as centrifugal force straightens out the arms and club during impact. This is considered a one plane versus a two plane swing.
If you beginners, especially, find that his technique works for you, good, however, I only use a measure of his technique in what I teach.
You may ask why I don’t promote Hogan’s swing more? I do promote Hogan’s swing except for his cupped left wrist at the top. He also had a tendency in his early years to reverse pivot with an insufficient weight shift away from the target. Ultimately, after years of experimenting, he achieved a remarkable body dynamics, his hip versus shoulders dynamics as good as it gets.
What I add to all this is a lot. A better understanding of the golf swing and new mental techniques that trigger the best body participation. I introduce many previously un discussed elements such as vertical compression between the upper body and lower body in the impact zone when the upward pushing up of the legs compresses against the downward throwing action of the arms and club, exploding the club through. I introduce rotational compression or the clockwise motion of the back swing against the counter clockwise motion of the downswing. I show why tilt of the hips and shoulders prevents power leakage and I introduce the concept of the feet coiling and uncoiling the shoulders up through the rest of the body using the ground for leverage and how all body motion originates from the feet. This re-examines traditional thought regarding the weight shift. I contend that the shift left to the target is a natural move to get ones center of gravity in front of the swinging object in a centrifugal motion just as the shift to the rear hip going back is to lead the club, also. The same principle involved in spinning a weight on a string; keeping a tension opposite the direction of the weight at all times requiring a circular, back and forth shifting. I add to all this the churning the feet must make back and forward, clockwise and counter clockwise, to rotate the shoulders back and forward and include this in the weight transfer dynamics. That it is this function that powers the rest of the swing which feeds off of the rotational power hidden within the body pivot. The pivot needs to have tilt and not just turn in the hips and shoulders due to the ball’s position at ground level or you will leak power and waste motion. My technique puts the shoulders at the center of the upper body swing, like a puppeteers’ strings manipulating the marionettes below, and the arms and hands co ordinate with this force to maximize their role of creating and releasing an angle in the proper manner. All of this tied to a subtle shuttling back and forward with the hips.
Examining Snead’s swing I am elated to see that his is absolutely a shoulder oriented motion as is Jack’s. Very few great golfers did not have a healthy shoulder coil and recoil, in fact. I could just as easily include Freddy Couples swing, or Seve Ballesteros or Tom Weiskopf to name a few of my favorites. Steve Elkington has a beautiful, unusually correct swing, both in it’s form and club control; back and down on nearly the same path. Bobby Clampett, in 1977, had one of the best swings I have ever seen and that is why I moved to Carmel in 1978 to begin with; to study his technique. Ernie Els is another wonder swing I admire. While they all differ, slightly, in their shaft control back and forward, I prefer Nicklaus’ style as it seems to keep the whole club, at all times, in harmony with his center of gravity. There is no adjusting necessary, back or forward. He aims the shaft TO the target at the top, a move fast disappearing with the new swings on tour that seem a little laid off. Today I admire the way Davis Love III tracks his golf shaft. No wasted motion no wasted power. He “slices butter” back and forward as purely as can be. In a slightly different manner, Phil Mickelson does as well. Dustin Johnson has a unique style that seems to move the club on a disc like plane with no inside to square or outside to square component, just a little fade plane is all. More one dimensional. I am intrigued and wonder is there a better way, after all? Would Dustin’s plane work as well with a straight left wrist at the top? I’m not so sure, as I write this book, so I’m sticking to the one I use, very much along Jack Nicklaus’ style.
As I mentioned earlier, there is one feature of Dustin Johnson’s swing as well as Johnny Miller and Seve Ballesteros and others – an early set of the wrists upon takeaway – that I will recommend as an option. This move starts very first thing in the swing and never subjects the shaft to that stress tension on the back side going back but, instead, almost suspends the entire weight of the club until it is delivered at impact. I’ve learned that, while a one piece takeaway is perfectly fine and exemplified by Jack and Sam, an early set of the wrists takes a lot of stress off of the wrists and keeps the stress off until actual impact. It accounts for Dustin Johnson’s ability to give the ball unlimited power without undo stress to the body. His booming distance comes from an effortless technique, I’ve noticed. When I try the early set the club is rendered weightless and hides that way until impact which is powerful. In this respect I am the student and teacher, at once, as this is a new subject of study that just came up in the course of writing this book.
The simplest way to explain this style is to imaging bending a straw until it kinks as soon as you start your back swing.. In golf this would be between the shaft and the left arm. Just any amount of angle, only deepening it at the top and on the way down. To bend this angle properly imagine you are trying to throw the whole club to the target as far as possible, underhanded, like a regular golf swing. There is a maximum power route from the top that is from your stance line to the ball line and through to the target after impact. With this route in mind bend the angle, early, accordingly and, once it’s set, just hold onto it until impact, itself. “Set it and forget it” in a sense. Your hands are trying to just hold the angle, not hit the ball. Your body proper does that, instead, slinging the arms and club through.
The standard “One Piece” take away makes the same angle only later in the back swing. Both styles hold onto the angle until impact.
I advocate a square to square or palm to palm grip, as Johnny Miller describes it, one that is weaker than what most technique calls for. It came to me one day while orienting my swing around my right hand only. In other words my left hand connected my body to the swing but the right hand did the motion all by itself. I discovered that the full rotation I like of the club head passing the handle through impact was best served with this grip. Complete release without the need for any manipulation. Many, many great golfers, including Gary Player, Mike Austin and Ernie Els used this grip, Nicklaus, included, especially in his early years.
I advocate the tension free, completely relaxed approach to a golf swing. I keep a crisp posture with my chest and butt out a little but also keep relaxed while swinging. Even the arms I keep extended but relaxed, using them at the right time and place and manner, but allowing them to respond, in concert, to the larger body pivot. Allowing the mind to control the club with it’s imagination and allowing the body to stay out of the way of this freedom and just facilitating the motion is important. Gaining control by giving up control. Trusting the swing.
Since I lack distance – mostly due to an old back injury (work, not golf, related) – I am benefiting from the Mike Austin method. He once hit a drive over 500 yards long on level ground in competition. (at 64 years of age in the Senior U.S. Open) A lot like Tom Weiskopf’s swing only fuller. At the top like Nicklaus only with a little head sway and a more tucked right arm. I think one of the three best swings I’ve ever seen, in fact, if only on film and paper. The familiar golfer position at mid follow through that the P.G.A. uses today for it’s logo could actually BE Mike Austin’s perfect swing. The biggest difference with his swing and others is that he manages to get his arms and hands ahead of the ball at impact and achieves his fastest speeds after impact (similar to Dustin Johnson) This means that he swings his hands and arms fast past the ball and not just the club. I believe that the power point in any swing is when the club head passes the handle. He gets it after the ball and with soft wrists that capitalize on range of motion on both sides of the ball. Like Bubba Watson, he can afford to ease into his finish because he has unloaded so much speed just after impact and enjoys the luxury of being able to save his back, after. No need to get his elbows behind his head at the finish. The same was also true of Nicklaus and Snead.
I think it interesting that Mike’s very first lesson was to bury a club head into a steep, muddy bank without getting mud on his sleeves. This taught him to release the club head ahead of the grip after impact throwing the club into the bank like a spear, head first. In spite of this mental image he managed to sustain very good lag and wrist retention until after impact. And so his swing will factor into my teachings as I am convinced of it’s greatness.
My overall swing theories are in accord with Nicklaus, Snead and Mike Austin. In fact, it is assuring to know that much of what Mike Austin teaches I was already practicing before I knew about him at all, including a shared unison on controversial aspects of technique. All three of these players use the gravity swing technique, besides…..Ue is no one part of the body that, properly implemented, will register into automatic success
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