Today was a day of soreness. I told Patrick that my lower right side was extremely sore and it was painful to get to the top of my swing. It was so painful that as I got to the top of the backswing I felt myself pulling the club back towards my body and behind me. When the right obliques can’t support the shoulder and arm because of soreness and pain, it is not good for the golf swing. It was so bad that I actually started to shank the ball on the range at UNC Finley the day before my lesson. It was very frustrating to see myself coming over the top but it was to be expected when you get the club behind you after your shoulders collapse.
Patrick told me to focus solely on the backswing and not worry about the downswing. He twisted and turned me to the point of the top of the backswing. My takeaway and the first part of my backswing is very good but to get past that point I really need to focus on activating my left lat and pushing down and to the left. In essence, as you get halfway through the backswing you should push the left lat down and towards 11:00 when looking back down the target line.
After doing this a few times, I realized that I need to get my left lat pinned the way I used to do with my triceps when I was doing dips. If I can pin my left lat against my shoulder I can keep pushing all the way to the top of my backswing. Patrick showed me that the true top is when my left lat is pushing “down” and feels like it is starting to go towards 11:00 or 10:30 down the target line.
We also had a long conversation discussing the difference in my old coming over the top and the new coming over the top. I used to come over the top as soon as I took the club back with my old golf swing. Now, my coming over the top is much later and close to the top of the backswing. As I get better and better the coming over the top will be closer to when I make contact with the ball on the downswing. Speaking of the downswing. Patrick touched a little on this so I wouldn’t continue to get frustrated.
He explained that as I get to the top of my backswing, using my left lat, my arms stay where they are and do nothing to create the downswing. The downswing is created by starting with my right hip and lower oblique. My arms “stay back” and as they are getting close to the ball my left elbow rolls over and I “push down” with my right obliques making it feel like my left side is going straight up on the target line. This is the secret that I did not know.
He also explained that going back the hands lag, which is why he started me with the grip back during the first lesson. Going back the hands lag and coming forward the hangs lag. So, when you are going back, the left hand has a bend of about 30 degrees with the wrist. As you get to the top of the backswing and you hinge the left wrist, it causes the right hand to bend about 30 degrees. You then allow the right hand to lag as the right oblique is used to create the downswing.
It is going to be very hard to not think about the downswing knowing what I know now, but Patrick has always said, “give me a full backswing and I will give you whatever score you want.” My right side is still extremely sore and it changes my backswing quite a bit. Patrick showed me a few stretches I could do to roll out the knots that are in my right side.
I know this is all part of the process of having a great golf swing but it makes me appreciate what really good golfers can actually do. I can promise you that no one I know is willing to go through this to have a better golf swing. When something hurts, they just adjust with their hands and try to make it work. Instead, you should continue to stretch that muscle and make it stronger so it can support your arms and shoulders. If your obliques and lats can’t support the arms and shoulders, you are going to break down and have an armsy swing which will never be consistent.
UPDATE: It is now mid May 2020 and I am on lesson #124. I am still addressing the backswing. On Lesson #25 I had no idea just how much the left side creates the backswing. While Patrick explained the left lat driving under the left shoulder, you will not feel this in a short amount of time. It took me about 20 months to really get the feel for the left lat driving under and creating a full backswing. I have mentioned it a few times that my right hand should feel like it is at my right ear, but without a great takeaway and a full turn, you will never feel this part of the golf swing. Keep plugging away and working on that shoulder turn.