Search for a Cure

The Critical Points of the Golf Swing  

copyright June 10, 2010 by Zigger Golf


In this discussion the following definitions of terms will be used.  Down and Up will refer to movement  toward or away from the ground.   Back and Forward will refer to movement away from or toward the target.  In and Out will refer to movement away from or toward the target line (in front of your body to behind your body).  It is also assumed that you have probably read many articles about golf hoping to fine a cure for your problems.  Therefore it is assumed that you are familiar with swing plane and the circular path the head of the golf club should travel along. 

Also, the following clock convention will be used when referring to positions along this circular path as viewed looking from the target line toward you.  The bottom of the circle at your feet will be 6 o’clock .  The top of the circle above your head will be 12 o’clock .  The position on the circle away from the target and half way to the top will be 9 o’clock , etc. 

As you “attempt” to swing the club head along a circular path around your body, there will be several “transition” points that are critical to the success of the swing.  What you do at these transition points will likely define your golf game and handicap.  You are swinging the club head around this circular path in three dimensional space, so the club head will be always moving in 3 directions.  They are :

1.         1. Up or Down

2.       2. Back or Forward

3.       3. In or Out

Note that since the circular path the club head travels along is inclined it will move an overall greater distance Back and Forward than Up and Down.  The In and Out distance will be even less.  It gets complicated, since the rate of change in any direction depends on the position along the circular path (at times, like around 8 o'clock to 9 o'clock, it is moving more Up than Back), but the feeling you should have is the club head starts moving back low to the ground (more back than up) and slightly In and then accelerates Up.

As you begin your backswing and start moving the club head away from the ball the club head will be moving Up, Back, and In.  It will continue along that path until the club head reaches the 9 o’clock position.  Your hands at this point will probably be about waist high.  You have now reached critical position 1.

Critical Position 1 ( 9 o’clock )

This position is where the very high handicappers usually get off the bus (or the golf swing).  Not liking change, they want to continue moving the club head Up, Back, and In.  This leads to the lower body wanting to sway to the right to support that club head movement.  As the club head continues upward, the club head will reach its highest point well to the right of your head (from the golfer’s reference) or too far away from the target.  You will then try to slide back toward the target and you pull the club Down, Forward, and Out.  With all of the body movement your shots will be erratic and success for you will be breaking 100.

The Cure

The cure is rather easy. All you need to do is realize at the 9 o’ clock club head position the club head need to change one of its directions.   It will go from moving Up, Back, and In to moving Up, FORWARD, and In.  To do this requires a correctly timed folding of the right arm.  Your subconscious will quickly figure out how to do this if you just visualize changing the club head direction from Back to Forward with little movement of the lower body.  Your right side cannot be stiff, but must be relaxed so the arm can easily fold.


Super Critical Position 2 ( 12 o’clock )

If you were still on the bus after critical position number 1, this is where most of you will get off the bus.  Between critical position number 1 and super critical position number 2 your club head has been moving Up, Forward, and In.  Now get ready for a two direction change!  This occurs as the club head (not your hands) reaches 12 o’clock .  At 12 o’clock the club head is at its highest point and is somewhere above your head.  Your hands will be about shoulder high.  As the club head continues along the swing plane it goes from moving Up, Forward and In to moving DOWN, Forward, and, OUT.  The high handicapper will want to continue moving the club head In.  If you do that, you have effectively rotated the swing plane counterclockwise around your body along your spine axis and are set up perfectly for  a casting move that will result in and out-to-in approach to the ball.  This move is also referred to as coming “over the top”.  You will either hit slices with little distance or will “pull” the ball along a line way left of the target.  Your club head will be moving from right of the target line to left of the target line as you strike the ball.   Success for you will likely be breaking 90.  You also will find that your shots are better with a ½ swing.  The reason for this is you don’t have to pass position 2 and make the direction changes with a ½ swing.

The cure

While not as easy as the cure for position 1, a big part of the cure is just realizing and visualizing what the club head needs to do.  What you are doing is moving the club head In when it should change direction and begin moving Out.  As you visualize this, your subconscious may discover several options to make this happen.  It could happen with a manipulation of the hands.  This could result in “cupping the wrist” and may cause control problems.  It could happen with a forearm rotation, but that would be counter the way you want to rotate the forearms.  It may happen with an extra shoulder turn if you are flexible enough, but that may lead to a downswing that begins with the shoulders and gets you on the wrong path.  I think the change of direction from In to Out needs to happen with a slight hip movement.  If you just rotate your hips slightly as you reach the top and near the finish of your backswing, this will move the club head Out.  Think of it almost like a forward press of the hands, except it is a backward press of the left hip.  This slight rotation of the hips at the end of your backswing will set you up for moving the hips toward the target in the downswing.  It will help start the weight shift and the hip rotation that leads the downswing.  Again awareness of the needed club head direction change is key to improving your swing.  Experiment and let your subconscious find the answer for you.


Super Critical Position 3

Now we reach the moment of truth, the transition from the backswing to the downswing.  Depending on your flexibility and length of your backswing, this will probably occur when the club head gets to somewhere between 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock .  When this happens there is a 3 direction change.  The club was moving  Down, Forward and Out and now it must move UP, BACK, and IN!  That is assuming you have successfully made the position 2 transition and are still on plane.    If so, you should now be in a position that will let you move the club head In and Back instead of the high handicapper move of Out and Back.  This move is brief, as the downswing is quick and you soon are back at critical position 2 where the club head changes two directions again, from Up and In to Down and Out.   The bump or rotation of the hip back toward the target will help initiate this move.  You can forget about doing much once you begin the downswing; it is too quick.  The downswing success, and your success in golf will depend on making the successful transitions at the critical points in the backswing and the initial downswing move that has the club head moving  Back, Up, and IN.  That is the secret to golf!!!!!!!!

Just remember, you can’t make this Up and In move to begin your downswing if you never made the Down and Out move as you passed super critical position 2 in your backswing.