“Passive means nothing.” This is going to be a phrase I will never forget. More on that later.
Today, Patrick was pleased to see that I now understand the backswing being created by the left side, from the lower left obliques all the way up through the left lat. What I was doing was creating a backswing that was too horizontal and not vertical. Instead of passively using the left side, he explained I should drive starting with my lower left side which will make the backswing much more vertical. This is leverage.
This has always been hard for me to do because I start my downswing with my shoulders and arms. If you do that, you don’t want to be vertical because there is no way to get back to the ball. I have to get over that fear because leverage is very important for accuracy and power.
Also, on the backswing, I need to continue to feel as if my left arm is staying close to my left ribs on the way back. The further my arms get away from my body, the less connected I am. It feels like I attach my left elbow to my lower left ribs and then allow my left obliques to create the backswing.
At the top of the backswing, I need to set the angle with my right hand. This is something Patrick talked about months ago but he has to be very careful when he mentions the hands to me. When I hear hands, I immediately try to make my entire swing “handsy”.
I am to set the angle with my right hand by making it feel like I am a waiter holding a platter. Most golfers have heard of this and there are dozens of YouTube videos discussing it, albeit they don’t understand how to keep that angle through the downswing. They want to immediately pull their right elbow down to their ribs which is incorrect.
Once I set the angle with my right hand I have to make certain my arms and shoulders are passive. Remember “passive means nothing”. If I can make my left arm the most passive my best downswing is ready to begin. At the top, my shoulders must stay passive, meaning they do nothing. I am to slowly sit with my lower right obliques and right hip. To me, it feels like I am sitting well behind my belt buckle and entire body. I know I am not sitting way behind my body, but that is what I need to feel. While I am very slowly “sitting” my left elbow starts to rotate the club so it stays on the swing path line.
This is what was so hard for me to comprehend. When I sat down, I used to drop the club way behind my right hip and it was impossible to get back to the ball. If I gently rotate my left elbow toward my belly button the club gets on plane. It stays on plane because my right hand has set the angle and is keeping the angle.
The right hand will basically feel like it is pushing the club to the target. Once I have slowly sit down, my left elbow is slowly rotating towards my belly button the lower right obliques start to generate the power of the golf swing. As Patrick has said to me dozens of times already, we need to store this up as long as possible. The club needs to drop down towards parallel as the right obliques are driving towards the ball of the left foot.
It is important to keep rotating the left elbow while keeping the right hand at the “platter” angle. When the club is parallel to the ground it should be on the target line and the club face will look very closed to most golfers. From here, you can then drive the right obliques to the ball of the left foot. When doing this, the right elbow will be on the right ribs and will be pointing towards the target. The right elbow should lead and be ahead of the hands at impact.
Right after impact, your right hand should be pushing the club at the target at a very sharp angle. Honestly, as sharp or an angle as your hand and wrist can handle. At this point, your left elbow will fold and the club will go towards the sky with your right obliques pushing your body through.
As you can imagine, this is not easy. It takes a lot of trust and even more practice. An issue I have is that my left hip pops when I am half way up on the finish of the swing after I hit the ball. Patrick didn’t want to go into footwork quite yet but he also didn’t want me popping my left hip over and over.
He explained that my right knee should go to the inside of my left leg. To do this, my shoulders must really be passive. Meaning nothing. As the right knee goes to the inside of the left leg, the right foot rolls up onto the inside of the right foot and you will eventually be in the inside of the right big toe. By doing this, it forces your left hip to clear and be left of the target.
This is a work in progress, but it does help me with my practice swings. If I do it correctly, my left hip feels very far to the left of the target, almost 10:30 or 11:00 if the target is 12:00 noon. After you get halfway up on the finish of the swing, the right hip can drive towards 10:00 or even 9:00 to get the full turn.
Easy enough, right?
After learning all of this I was mentally exhausted. I hit a few decent ones with Patrick but it was a work in progress as I really have to trust being passive at the top and allowing the “sit”. I have a terrible habit of ripping across with my shoulders. Honestly, the rolling of the left elbow towards my belly button helped a lot when it comes to trusting I can get back to the ball by using my right obliques.
While I still had the swing thoughts in my head I decided to go to the UNC Finley driving range. I knew it was going to be a mental grind because I learned so much during this lesson. I made myself go to the far end of the range and I was going to focus on each and every practice swing.
As per Patrick’s request, I do five practice swings then hit five balls until I finish the bucket. It took me about 10 minutes just to finish my first five practice swings. I hit a couple decent shots with my pitching wedge. I continued this process very slowly.
It was the most focused I have ever been at the driving range. After hitting about 10 balls something finally clicked. I got to the top of my backswing, set the angle with my right hand, allowed my left arm to be very soft, sat and came from the inside and hit a five yard draw in the middle of the club face. It felt amazing.
As with any other range sessions, I had no delusions of grandeur that I could replicate it and do it again. To my amazement, I did it over and over. I hit about 25 balls better than I’ve ever hit a golf ball. I could feel myself allowing the right side to move the club through impact instead of my shoulders.
Patrick always says, “you should not try to generate speed because you do not know what speed is.” This was my exact mindset throughout the entire range session. I wasn’t trying to swing hard or hit the ball far. I was allowing the practice swings to dictate the swings over the ball. It took me an hour and 20 minutes to hit one bucket of balls. It was amazing.
After this I realized the importance of focus and details. There is no point in half assing practice swings at home or in the shower if I can’t focus. Instead, I am going to put all my energy into the time I have at the range and with Patrick.
I honestly cannot believe how well I hit the ball. Coming from the inside, allowing the right side to do the work and keeping the shoulders passive is so very important. Now, I am going to remain optimistic but realize that focusing at the correct time is important.
We are getting closer and closer with every session. Fun times!
UPDATE: Well, this lesson back in April 2019 sure was important but I was still so far away. I started to understand the golf swing but my shoulder turn was extremely short and my legs were a mess. It is now late July 2020 and I am still going through the process of cleaning up my footwork while getting a huge shoulder turn. It will honestly be a three year project to get the shoulder turn that Patrick wants. Continue reading to understand why depth of the shoulder turn makes the transition so smooth and powerful.