In my last article, I talked about a graphically visual organizational method called Mind Mapping. We started with a subject’s central concept and put it in the center of a page. We then created spider veins of thought emanating from that central concept to expound and expand upon our basic understanding. Each subsequent expansion expressed that understanding more specifically and deeply within that particular thought vein. Above is a mind map of the Physical Fundamentals of the golf swing. So far, we have discussed our understanding of the grip and the starting position. So, let’s keep going!
The most basic and simple description of a swing motion is:
The starting position connects to the finishing position within the parameters and protection of beat, balance and physics.
We have looked at the starting position and now it’s time to take a look at the components of the finishing position.
Clearly, the starting position connects to the finishing position through a loading and unloading motion. You can’t get to the finish without the load and unload and their relationship to each other and to your desired result. Each of these important parts of the swing will be explained in depth in future articles. However, since the unload is one unbroken thrust from just before the end of the load to the end of its motion, the finish will be exactly where the natural flow, uninterrupted inertia and specific energy signature of that particular swing for that particular shot will take it.
However, many things are constant. The finishing position completes the swing. It is a place to go. It satisfies the intent and preparedness that we had in the starting position for executing our desired result. It is a natural end to the non-interfered, uninterrupted and continuous swing motion. It gives direction and a place in which we can evaluate and then assess what we have done during the swing. It is a fantastic indicator of what came before it.
The best players are master evaluators. Each not only knows what he did incorrectly in order to eliminate that from his mental, physical and psychological patterns, but more importantly he knows what he did correctly in order to own that understanding in order to repeat that pattern. Each swing provides an object lesson from which to learn. The finishing position and resultant recess position gives the player time to learn.
Swing and hold that finish. It is the best seat in the house…front row center. From there, no one sees your result better than you do.
At the finishing position, the left foot occupies the same space that it occupied in the starting position. The weight is evenly distributed on the left foot, back to front, but pushing into the outside half. The right foot is up on its big toe. The right leg has moved so that the right knee is next to and just behind the left knee. The left foot was the first thing to stabilize in the unloading motion followed by the left leg, the hips, the trunk, the shoulder sockets, the arms, the hands and finally the club. Your knees, hips, upper body and head should minimally face the target. Depending on your suppleness, strength, flexibility, and agility with swing motions of greater speed, the hips and trunk will move through many more degrees before stopping at their end. Your shoulder sockets, arms, hands and the club go on their merry way. With longer full shots, the club will find a place behind your back.
At the finish, you are naturally erect, 100% of your weight is on your left foot. The knees, hips, upper body and head are balanced on top of that pivot point…the left foot. Do not keep your head still. It moves along naturally with the body. The right foot has moved as it will. With wider stance shots, it will position itself a few more inches toward the left foot than it was in the starting position. In order to do this, the entire right side is quite soft and relaxed. On the way to the finish, the right arm stays extended…until the body stops, centrifugal force ends and both arms finally bend. If your muscle tone is appropriate at this stage, then the club, hands and arms will recess back in front of you softly during shots requiring slower speeds and will rebound back sometimes ferociously during swing motions at higher speeds.
Your grip is still on and in the same form as it was in the starting position. The arms are nearly the same width apart. Establish and maintain, establish and maintain…nice mantra to work with. The body will fold up naturally. The finishing position unraveled is the starting position.
A good exercise to ingrain the finish and its components into your mind and body would be to set up three or more balls and hit them consecutively…while, of course, ensuring an immaculately balanced starting position and finishing position. Do this at varying speeds…from tai chi slow motion to a series of swings with no down time in between. At slow and moderate speed exercises, hold that finish. During continuous motion sets, allow the recess or rebound to pull you into the next starting position…one after the other. The finishing position for a straight shot, draw, fade, low and high…and every combination possible will be slightly different from the basic. Get on a teeter totter to change trajectory…weight more forward to hit it lowly, weight more back to hit it highly. Change alignment to hit curves…aim right encouraging a finish more up and around to draw and aim left encouraging a finish more down and under to fade. The finish will be shorter with a softer slower swing and maximized with a full tilt speed swing motion.
For highly advanced players, work to maintain the form of the wrists achieved at impact all the way through to just before the finish is reached. You must have a very agile, flexible and supple body to do so.
With practice and learned awareness, your sensitivity to conditions of balance—physically, mentally, and emotionally—will allow you to evaluate, assess, learn, adjust and improve. As you do one thing fundamentally, then you are encouraged and rewarded to do another thing fundamentally and so on. Soon you will be working within your own positive feedback loop striving for your optimal performance levels.
May all your swings be free!