Porphyry of Tyros was a noted thinker of the 3rd century. While studying Aristotle, he was the first person to use the graphically visual method to categorize concepts and thoughts now commonly called mind mapping. A mind map is created around a central concept or principle with spider veins of associated thoughts and beliefs expanding away from the core. All expansion is directly related to that core concept.
In my last post, I mentioned a transformation experience of seeing and experiencing Ben Hogan. This experience lead me down a circuitous pathway of education and discovery until understanding was available. Mind mapping became an important method for me to help visualize and interrelate the relevant information. If an idea helped to expound and support the central idea, then it stayed. If it did not, then it was discarded.
While considering this type of organizational map, let’s look at one of my Circle of Fundamentals, the physical side of the game.
If I were to describe the golf swing motion in its most basic and simple manner, then that description would be:
The starting position connects to the finishing position within the parameters and protection of beat, balance and physics.
If you know nothing else, then know this. If you work on nothing else, then master this. All other beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and understandings must enhance and support that central idea. Nothing can violate your beat (rhythm) and balance. If your swing motion is to repeat optimally, then it must allow physics to win (more on this in another post). You work to create an immaculately balanced starting position and finishing position.
Because all of our concepts relate to each other, logically, let’s start with the starting position. Everything that you do in your swing motion is dictated by your starting position. Everything that you do in your starting position is dictated by your grip. The grip I teach, the Absolute Best Grip in the World, is the single most important fundamental that will determine your eventual long term improvement in the game. It is so important, it occupies its own space on my Circle of Fundamentals. In the video at the top of this post, I showed you exactly how to put on the Absolute Best Grip in the World. Most basically, the palms of the hands are parallel to each other and parallel to the leading edge of the clubface. The hands literally become the clubface. There is equal pressure on all sides of the shaft. The grip manages the squareness, loft and lie of the club during the swing.
Please take full advantage of this grip. It is the greatest gift that I can give you as a golfer.
The grip is the most basic component of the starting position. All other aspects are directly related and dictated by it. Every great player, male or female, who has won 7 majors or more has utilized a grip that is 99% of what I teach. A great grip takes no talent…anyone can do it. However, it does take time, knowledge, persistence and determination. Learn it, you will be forever grateful that you did!
In my book, The Absolute Best Grip in the World, I offer the most detailed explanation, description and learning tool about how to put a proper golf grip on the club. It is a great book for every studious golfer’s library and a terrific reference material to go back to as you improve.
In part two of my book I move into the swing motion. Below is an excerpt of the book regarding the starting position.
The Starting Position
The starting position, for instructional purposes, is a true position – a static beginning, stationing us to the ball and target. However, in reality it is not static at all, but an alive and active intermediary step between you and your desired result. It must express and exude the intent and energy that will flow out of it – the desired result. The form of it follows its function -to control the line, trajectory, distance, curvature and spin of the ball. In the end, the starting position is simply setting up the conditions for the best chance to achieve your goal, and thus the swing flows out of this position – they are not separate at all. However, to learn it, it is best to separate it into its own compartment.
Proper Physical Posture
The physical posture is built around and relative to the grip, the ground (let’s talk level here) and the desired result. Let balance be the key!
Relative to the grip
The arms and shoulders take on the relationship of the hands, i.e. because the left hand is above and inside of the right hand, then the left arm is above and inside of the right arm and thus the left shoulder is above and inside of the right shoulder. The shoulders are not perfectly parallel to the target line but are very slightly open to be square and balanced to the grip. Since the left shoulder is above the right shoulder, the spine will be tilted away from the target slightly and thus the head is to the right of center of the body. All of the clubs are designed to have the butt end of the club the same height off the ground. However, the shafts lay at different angles depending on the length of the club. Therefore, the wrists must accommodate the lie of the club. The wrists are the most arched with the shortest club and get progressively less arched with the longer clubs. The club has its own balance, it is set in its design at address.
Relative to the ground
As the parts of the body get closer to the ground they get progressively more level. The shoulders are slightly tilted as described above while the hips are pretty level or just very slightly tilted with the left hip a bit higher than the right hip. The knees are basically level with the feet balanced and flat on the ground. The right foot is perpendicular to the target. The left foot is somewhat open from perpendicular. Ideally, the left foot should be positioned slightly outside of the left shoulder at address. The stance is the widest with the driver and gets progressively narrower with the shorter clubs. You stand the farthest from the ball with the driver and progressively closer to the ball with the shorter clubs.
Relative to the target and the desired result
To hit a basically straight shot the clubface faces towards the target. To hit with power and control, the body must take on a natural athletic posture from the vertical. This is done simply by flexing the knees naturally down and slightly forward, while maintaining the natural integrity of the spine, now bend forward from the hips slightly. Let the arms hang down naturally from the shoulder sockets while allowing the head to bend forward and down comfortably. The physical posture is proud and full of intent. We are setting up the conditions to create a natural maximum arc and allow the club to move through a 3-dimensional roadmap of the plane. To hit the ball straight, the body is basically parallel left with slight, natural adjustments of openness, as described above, relative to the grip. The ball position, for most shots, should be constant relative to the left foot. Most golfers find that four to six inches inside the left foot will do for all shots with the ball on the ground or lowly teed. With a driver the ball may be moved a bit more forward, but always inside the left heel.
The grip and the starting position each have their own spider vein connected to the central concept on our mind map. Each fundamental can be explained more specifically as our mind map expands away from the center. We expand our thinking and understanding by organizing our thoughts in this manner and digging deeper and deeper into the detail. If we get confused, then we compress the data to the most basic and restart the process of expansion. This method of visualizing and organizing information and the ability to expand and contract the knowledge base keeps things clear as we come to know and understand more.
Next time we’ll discuss the finishing position.