The Forward Swing

The final three swing principles are timing, release, and impact.
Rick Smith demonstrates the final three swing principles – timing, release, and impact.

In Golf Fundamentals with PGA Instructor Jay Friedman, we discussed the principles of the forward swing. These last three principles make up the 14 swing principles that we have been studying so far this semester.

Research has found that the average duration of the golf swing is less than 1.5 seconds. The backswing represents roughly 75% of that time. That means there’s very little time to make corrections during the forward swing.

The three forward-swing principles are timing, release, and impact. However, there are several in-swing principles that affect the forward swing. One of those is dynamic balance, which is maintaining body control during the swing as the player transfers weight from one foot to the other. The action of the legs is critical for maintaining balance, even though leg action may only produce 20-30% of the actual force of the swing. The legs are there to provide a base of support more than anything else. The golf swing is a throwing motion, and the lower body always leads in any type of throwing motion.

The center of the swinging arms in the golf motion is known as swing center. The swing center can move in six different directions: left (toward the target), right (away from the target), down (towards the ball), up (away from the ball), forward (towards the target line), or back (away from the target line).

Check out the weight transfer.
Check out the weight transfer on Tiger Woods’ forward swing. It all starts with the lower body.

Timing is the combined sequence of the movement of both body and club to produce an efficient result. The backswing sets the body in position for the forward swing. The swing sequence is as follows:

* Begins with transfer of weight
* Continues with the rotations of the hips and trunk
* Followed by the transition from backswing to forward swing
* The trunk and shoulders activate
* The arms move, followed closely by the hands

The best result is produced when the motion occurs in the correct sequence with the right amount of power.

The release is the return of the body, arms, and clubhead to a position that is similar to their starting position at address. Major errors include blocking, wrist breakdown, and early extension. Blocking occurs when the player fails to square the face, leaving it open to the target. Wrist breakdown is when the wrist collapses, causing a loss of clubface control. Early extension is a flipping motion or “casting” of the wrist.

When the weight is transferred from the trailing foot to the leading foot, the arms, hands, and clubhead are still completing the backswing.

Impact is the moment of truth. Jay says he doesn’t care about anything else in the swing as much as he cares about impact. The goal is always to hit the center of the face with the least amount of compensating moves. Typically, the lead arm is extended, the leading wrist is flat or bowed, and the weight is on the leading side.

Jay believes there are so many back injuries on Tour is because of over-rotation on the finish.
Jay believes there are so many back injuries on Tour because of over-rotation on the finish.

The finish occurs after impact and is, therefore, not a swing principle. But a well-balanced finish usually indicates an effective use of the swing principles.

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