Today was a very important day in terms of getting closer to actually playing golf. For the last few weeks, when I start my takeaway and backswing Patrick will pull the inside of my left elbow back towards my body. I had no idea why he was doing this other than to get me to actually turn. After hitting a few balls and realizing I was transitioning way too fast I finally asked him why he did that.
He explained that when I started the backswing I still had the habit of allowing the arms to get away from my body which, in turn, made me stop using my left side to get to the top of the backswing. While I thought I wasn’t using my arms at all, I was actually using them after the takeaway. After practicing a few backswings in which he held my left elbow closer to my left ribs on the backswing I realized I was using my arms a lot and giving up on my left side.
So, what it feels like to me is the left elbow and especially the left arm needs to lag as the left side drives to the top of the backswing. It feels very, very weird as my left knee and my entire left hip feel like they are pointed not only away from the target but to about 7:00 or 8:00 if Noon and 6:00 are the target line. Patrick laughed and said, “this is what the turn actually is.” Wow, it feels like my entire body is turned backwards.
The feel is correct when I can lag my left arm and left elbow to the point where it feels it is behind my belly button going back. When I do this I really feel the left side driving all the way to the top. It starts with the lower left oblique, moves up through my fat rolls and mid obliques and into the lower part of my left lat and at the top my left lat pushes the club to the top of the backswing. While this feels really short in my arms, it feels extremely deep in my chest and stomach. My left knee feels like it is a mile behind the golf ball.
Once I get to this point I have to remain very patient and start the downswing with my lower right obliques and then allow the right side to turn which will move the feeling into the upper right oblique and into the lower right lat. This is extremely difficult for me right now as Patrick pointed out this is my problem area. I can start the downswing with my lower right oblique and get my right side turning but then I give up and allow my shoulders and arms to come across to hit the ball. I need to learn to be patient on the downswing from the club being at my shoulder all the way to the ball. This is so very hard.
The way the obliques are getting the club to the top of the backswing is how they should feel on the downswing. If I do it correctly, I can feel the “fat rolls” start to take over when the club face is about shoulder height on the downswing. If I really do it well, the right side gets my shoulder down and the clubface to the ball. Once again, this is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn how to do in the golf swing and will take some time to master.
If I can get my left elbow and left arm to lag on the takeaway, I can really engage the left side to get to the top of the backswing. From there, I have to work to be patient and allow the right side to cause the speed of the downswing.
Overall, this was an extremely important lesson that will get me closer to the next level. Patrick said I put my best swing ever on the ball today when I really focused on being slow and lagging on the backswing. The downswing is something to train quite a bit, but just let it happen when I am actually hitting the ball. Oh, the joys of the golf swing.
UPDATE: Well, we are now in June 2020 and 133 lessons in and Patrick still grabs my left arm to keep it from leading the body. I am much better getting my left side to drive under the left shoulder but my arms still want to lead the swing. I am also now working on allowing my right side, especially my lower right side, to create speed in the golf swing. It is amazing how much hard work you have to put into this game to truly understand how to hit the golf ball correctly. I was hitting flop chips at UNC Finley today for the first time ever. I now realize how to use the lower right side to create speed with the club. The Patrick Kelley chipping motion really helped me understand this.