Dynamic balance in your routine at address and through the swing
“Dynamic” according to Webster’s Dictionary, definition #3: of energy, motion, or force in relation to force.
Your Pro’s Corner
By Ron Parish, PGA Director of Golf, Lone Tree Golf Course
Have you ever made a swing and it seems like you have to strain with your hands and arms to get enough power for the shot? Or you get stuck on the way down and then slap at the ball? You don’t end in balance and the ball doesn’t go as you intend. I see a lot of beginning and intermediate golfers trying to be perfect and under the misconception that locking or straining your muscles, giving a feeling of control is what you are supposed to do to make a good swing.
The concept of dynamic balance and being synchronized can help address this misconception (Important Note: with this discussion there is the assumption that the grip, alignment, and ball position fundamentals are all in place). To understand dynamic balance and its role in the golf swing, let’s start with some analogous comparisons with other sports.
Tennis: When waiting to receive and return a serve, what do top tennis players do? They’re in the ready position with feet shoulder width, knees slightly bent and in balance, spine aligned, and they are ready to move. They start shifting their feet right before the server launches their serve. Baseball: Stealing second base. Runners getting ready to make the jump to second shift their weight back and forth between their feet. It is very small, subtle and quick, but if they don’t do this they will be slow on the jump or get stuck. Playing catch. Two players throwing a ball back and forth stays in constant motion and balance; think about it. Snow skiing: Right before launching from the starters gate snow skiers move their skis back and forth to get the whole body working together, legs working with torso, and arms.
All of the above are references at the start of the given motions and each are “athletic positions” and “dynamic” or “of energy, motion, or force in relation to force”. A good concept to convey to the golf swing. I always remember Jimmy Connors shuffling his feet before receiving a serve. Why do Jimmy and other athletes do this? Because the last thing they want is to be stagnate or stuck with their body motion; if that happens, only parts of their body can make the move and not the entire body working together. The little shifting back and forth allows them to move with their whole body working together and in balance. Watch really good golfers up close and you will notice this. It is in a more subtle manner, but they have honed their routines so that they stay athletic and “in motion” and “in balance” (better to notice in person then on television). A great player to watch who you can see stay athletic despite television, is Tom Lehman on the Senior Tour. Watch his set up and routine. There is a smooth rhythm to it, several looks to the target which is a good thing, a little shifting back and forth that keeps the muscle supple, ready, all in tune with the body’s weight shifting, followed by a great, powerful athletic move.
To learn a feel for this dynamic balance and motion try the following:
Work on and know your routine. Hit balls on the range and practice just like you play on the course, start from behind the ball and walk into each shot; learn your routine and what you feel comfortable with and always stay in motion. Take this routine to the course, it will help.
Know and develop your trigger. As you start your swing, learn what it is that really starts it. This will take time. It is different for everybody. Ernie Els uses a press of his hands and arms towards the target. Sam Snead had the same thing but tied it into his feet and legs. I trigger with my feet and legs. Gary Player kicked in his right knee. Jack Nicklaus the turning of his head and a firming of his left side. A trigger is a little shifting of weight towards the target and the subtle recoil from that shift starts the swing consistently and in balance (sounds “dynamic” doesn’t it?).
Over the top drill. Take a seven iron and tee up a ball. Instead of starting the backswing with the clubhead directly behind the ball, hover the clubhead over the top of the ball, swing the clubhead forward towards the target 18-24 inches and then flow back into a backswing but pass over the top of the ball on the way back (fyi: this is teaching you a trigger); from there, hit through the ball as normal. This drill teaches dynamic balance and motion better then any in my opinion. It is Jack Nicklaus’s favorite drill.
Hit these two balance points. Hit balls on the range and notice your balance 1) on your back leg and foot at the top of the backswing and 2) at the finish. Be balanced with both and I will bet you hit a good shot. Swing only 70% power and just really stay in motion but in balance at these two points.
Line drill. Tee up five balls in a row on the range two inches apart. Take a seven iron and start making practice swings back and forth and work your way towards the line, and start hitting right down the line one right after the other. Never stop swinging and after you hit a ball, flow into the next backswing but inch your way towards the next ball and hit it on the way through inching as you go. To work into each ball you will have to keep dynamic balance.
Like all aspects of the game, a little experimentation and trial and error is necessary for you to understand dynamic balance, but give the above a try and I think you will further your understanding of this important concept for your game and improve with that understanding. Good luck and have some fun with it.
Thank you for all you do for Golf and for Lone Tree Golf Course and Event Center.
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