Today was an interesting lesson because we started to revisit some of the fundamentals of the take away. Remember, Patrick has always said the first six inches of the golf swing is the most important. Throughout the last several months I have gotten much better at turning my upper body around my lower body but I was still using my hands and arms. What I did not realize is just how much flexibility I need in my upper lats and my triceps.
In this journal, sometime in the past year and a half, I mentioned the hands should lag on the take away. Today, Patrick showed me just how much the hands should lag. He put my hands in the correct position just after take away and I was shocked. The feel is that the hands are on my left hip as my body turns. If I can keep my hands behind my belly button and in line with the middle of my chest, I am doing a good job of taking the club away.
Unfortunately, my upper body, especially my upper back and triceps are very tight which makes it hard to keep the hands where they are at address while allowing my left hip to move slightly down and then my lower left back obliques to start the swing. When I do this, my right arm wants to straighten and my left arm wants to move. This is because my triceps and upper lats are not “long”. They are basically balls of tension.
After doing about five “proper” take aways I realized I have a lot of stretching and flexibility to work on if I want a great take away where my hands lag and stay in front of my chest throughout the backswing.
If done correctly, my arms and hands feel much more on the target line or “out in front of me” as I approach the top of the backswing. It also helps me see how deep my backswing is. If your hands are in line with the middle of your chest, you are going to see where your chest is pointed, right? When doing this today, I saw that my chest was pointed at about 1:30 if the ball were noon in my vision. I know I will never get close to 3:00 but getting closer to 2:00 or 2:15 is necessary to hit the ball well.
Getting back to 2:00 by using my core really stretches my upper lats and triceps. If feels like my upper arms are wedged between my lats and my elbows are pointing in. It will be interesting to see just how long it takes to stretch some of these muscles as right now I am extremely tight.
When working on the chipping motion, I can now understand the importance of soft arms and flexibility in the triceps and upper lats. You can truly take your arms and hands out of the swing, especially at impact, when you feel the elbows pointing in and the pull of the muscles in your triceps and upper lats. The chipping motion is also showing me the importance of being long through the core. It now feels like my left arm is extremely long, yet soft. My left lat all the way to the ball is much longer now.
Once at the top of the backswing, Patrick explained the movement down is the exact same as the take away. You are to use your right hip to set the angle with a slight move down, then the back side of the lower right obliques drives which causes the right shoulder and right arms to come under and from the inside. Once again, there is a flexibility issue here as when I get to the top, my upper lats and triceps are burning with tension because they’ve never been there before.
If I can feel the tension more in my upper back, keep that tension and allow my right hip and lower right obliques to start the down swing, we are in business.
Whew. This was one of those lessons that makes me realize just how hard the golf swing is. Now I have seven days in which Mikaila is in Israel and I do not have lessons where I can practice the correct take away which will cause me to stretch my triceps and upper lats.
UPDATE: We now in December 2020 and quickly approaching 200 lessons. I am still working on flexibility in my core and upper back. I am significantly more flexible and have a much deeper backswing but there are still limitations. I am closing in on the point that my elbows feel like they are pinching together at the top of the backswing because there is so little tension. Amateurs never feel this. It has been a 27 month journey just to get flexible enough to feel this, no less trust the shoulder turn and get back to the ball with the less supporting the upper body and not driving. What a journey it has been.