After watching Jeff Altice shoot a 69-67 during the Hasentree-Prestonwood Ryder Cup (Hasentree won 20-16), keeping the right elbow low and having a flat swing started to catch my attention. Jeff mentioned that Hogan did everything in his power to keep the right shoulder and right elbow as low as possible and swing around the body.
So, because I am an idiot, I went out and did this at UNC Finley. Honestly, it was good for me, because it allowed me to understand what it means to come from way in the inside. I was hitting huge hooks or pulls straight left. What it really did was taught me how to drop the club on the inside and not come over the top.
Patrick got ahold of me and said it was good to understand the first move of the downswing which is to not come over the top but I should not get lazy and lose the angle at the top of my backswing. Patrick teaches a much more upright swing with the angle of the club much more on the target line over the shoulder rather than behind the shoulder.
The first thing we worked on was the importance of the left leg. When you are coming down with the golf swing, the ball of the left foot needs to plant and brace. If you have never done this, you really have no idea what it feels like. All the speed of the swing is braced by the left foot. We worked on that while also making sure I wasn’t sliding towards the target or allowing my hands and arms to get too far ahead of my left foot after impact.
Patrick reiterated the importance of the backswing and said not to worry about keep the club low or “flat”. Instead, we are going to work to keep the upright angle on the target line above my right shoulder. From the top, I use my lower right obliques to get back to level and then I am to use my right lat to push straight towards the ball of my left foot. When I do this, it is imperative to have very soft arms as the left elbow is going to rotate to get the club face through the ball.
If done correctly, it feels exactly like a putt. The right lat is pushing the chest through the
midsection and towards the ball of the left foot. By doing this, the shoulders rock as the club passes through impact and exits on the target line.
An issue I have is going too far with this move. Patrick told me to focus on getting the club face to just past impact and stopping. This will allow me to understand the important of the left elbow rotating which will cause the club face to move upward. If you do not plant your left foot extremely hard this move does not work. For an hour Patrick twisted and turned me to get me to feel the correct movement. He was worried that my legs and lower back were going to be extremely sore after the workout we did. What he does not realize is my legs can handle almost anything.
This is great news because Patrick keeps explaining that the legs are the most important part of the golf swing, especially when it comes to power.
When completing this downward movement correctly, the hips are well in front of the ball when you make contact. What is interesting is that you don’t actually move your hips, they are moved by the right lat pushing towards the ball of the left foot.
I hit some balls very well. Patrick points out that trust is a major part of the golf swing. If you asked me to swing like this in the past, I would have assumed I was going to either shank the ball or come over the top and slice it 50 yards right.
If I complete my practice downswing correctly, the club stays on the target line on the downswing all the way through impact. It feels weird because I would never guess the club is where it is on the downswing but it makes sense as most amateurs have it completely inside or way outside. To keep the club on the target line means you will hit it further and straighter. I just have to stay committed to the fact that I think it is very steep and over the top. After hitting a few dozen balls correctly, I am certain my trust will be there.
In the next few days, I really have to stretch my hamstrings and groin and this gets pulled a lot when doing the full swing correctly. It is excited to see the ball shoot straight up in the air off my club face. I have never seen that before.
UPDATE: It is now July 2020 and I am 137 lessons in. Bracing with my left foot has become more important now than ever. That said, I didn’t understand how to truly do this because I was driving with my right leg and pulling with my left and straightening my left knee to try to gain power. Instead, the power comes from the rotation of the upper body around the lower body. The legs need to act as stabilizers not a power source.
I have also learned that I need to allow the heel of my left foot to brace some of that weight and swing speed as I drive under with my right lat. Isn’t the golf swing great?