Today was a very information based lesson. It was 52 degrees and raining during the lesson so I didn’t even hit a single ball. We really touched on the beginning of the downswing today. Patrick confirmed that my backswing is getting better and better; especially that I took my arms out of it and allowed my left lat to “pull” to the top of the backswing. He explained that the “pulling” feeling is actually the left lat supporting the weight of my shoulder and arm on the way back. This makes sense. When all is said and done, the right lat will “pull” or support the weight on the downswing. So, the downswing.
At the top of my backswing, like most amateurs, my left elbow flairs out and I pull across to start the downswing. This is not uncommon and is the reason most amateurs hit a slice or a lazy fade. Instead of allowing the left elbow to flair, you are supposed to relax it and left it fall to the inside or towards your belly button. Remember, at the top of the backswing, the goal is to relax as much as possible which allows the right shoulder to fall behind the right hip.
As the right shoulder falls behind the right hip, the left elbow remains relaxed and falls inside the left hand. We haven’t yet talked about setting the club at the top of the backswing, but on the downswing it is very important where the shaft is. I have a bad habit of allowing the clubface and shaft to fall behind my right shoulder and right hip. Instead, you should keep the angle your left wrist has created at the “set” and the shaft will fall into the target line. Almost no one does this.
So, to recap, get to the top of the backswing. Make absolutely certain you relax your arms and shoulders and get to the top of the backswing. At the top, your right knee pushes towards the back of the left knee. This causes the right shoulder to fall as the left elbow relaxes and falls toward your body. As this happens, you keep the hinge of the club so the shaft of the club stays “outside” the hands and on the target line. Easy enough, right?
It is going to take many, many hours of practice to master the first part of the downswing. A great exercise Patrick explained was to get to the top of the backswing, completely relax the left elbow, left if fall to your right ribs and rotate with your hips and obliques. This is how power is created in the golf swing. In essence, you are making your shoulders wide and taking your hands and arms completely out of the downswing.
We briefly touched on the follow through but that is a work in progress. A quick overview is your right hip and right oblique get you to impact and then you use your right lat to finishing the swing. The left arm and elbow should be above or parallel to your left shoulder as you finish the follow through. I am certain there will be much more on this later.
For the time being, I have to work on relaxing that left elbow and allowing my right side to really activate on the downswing. Remember, your hands and arms do not improve your swing in any way. If your club is in the wrong place, the root of the problem is your body/midsection, not your hands and arms.
After a few days of the information being digested I realized that the pulling of the left lat on the way back is the same as the pulling of the right lat on the way down. I went to the range and pulled from my right side at the top of my swing and hit the ball extremely well. After some quick analysis, I realized I was pulling from the lower side of my right side instead of starting at the top, right under my armpit and pulling down as my downswing comes down and approaches the ball.
As Patrick has said many, many times, the shoulders should be broad (wide) as you approach the ball. When I was pulling with the lower part of my right side, my right shoulder was not opening up. If you pull from under your armpit and your lat, you are naturally going to open up your shoulder.
After some practice with this, I realize that this is how you flatten the swing. It truly is a reverse figure eight feel. As you go back you are “outside” and when you get to the top, you pull with the upper part of your right lat which causes you to come back inside. For me, it feels like I am falling back a little bit, but I know this feeling will become normal over time. During the next lesson, I have to discuss just how much I should feel falling back.
While my right shoulder and right lat are “falling back” or dropping, my hands and lower body are actually going forward. That said, I know really falling back is not a consistent way to hit the golf ball. It is going to take a lot of time and reps to get the feel of pulling with my right lat which opens up the right shoulder. Once that happens, you continue to pull or engage with the right side. Basically, it should feel like the engaging starts right under your armpit and slowly goes all the way down through your right obliques and down into your right butt cheek. It really does shallow you out and create an arch.
UPDATE: Whole Lee Cow. I analyzed way too much and really had no idea what I was doing back in November 2018. It is now April 2020 and I am 115 lessons in. There is no pull in the swing, it is a driving factor. Also, you never drive with your right leg. If you drive with your right leg, you are always going to come over the top. There are so many other things in this journal entry I could break down but we will leave it at that.
It is unbelievable how far I’ve come in 115 lessons. To think I thought I was going to play golf back in lat 2018 is just nuts. I am glad that I haven’t tried to play through this process as it would have gone very poorly.