The evolution of the golf swing

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BUDDY DE JOYA

How do you distinguish a classic golf swing against today’s modern golf swing? Is there such a thing? Was there really a time frame that actually distinguishes the two major types of swing? Or, has there been a continuing evolution of the golf swing?

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Through the years of my golfing experience, I can agree, at least to myself that I have had countless of swing changes. The only reason that I have kept changing, experimenting and modifying was because I was in search of perfecting the golf swing mechanics and ball striking aptitude. Finally one day, I believe I have found it. With enough practice, it really scores very well!

I actually wrote an article entitled “My interpretation of the modern swing”. It emphasized the rotate and balance concept, with a non-deliberate weight shift throughout the swing.

At address, it sports a very athletic position. The take-away is one piece with passive hands and wrists. On the top of my backswing, my shoulders are rotated at about 90 degrees with a minimal hip rotation (a maximum of 45 degrees), with my hands and arms to the right of my right shoulder. Weight distribution is kept balanced with the left foot planted on the ground. On the forward swing, hips and legs are the triggers but everything moves together in synchronization. Upon impact, the hips are slightly ahead of the shoulders. On the follow-through, I allow the upper body to move up a bit with the arms and club moving around the body, and the middle of the shaft behind my head, with my weight at least about 70 percent on the forward foot.

I found an interesting article about a comparison of the modern and classic swing from a clinician’s perspective by Andrew McHardy, of Macquarie Injury Management Group, Department of Health and Chiropractic, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Henry Pollard of the same group and Greg Bayley, an Australian PGA member, assisted him.

According to their research, the attributes of the modern swing are stated as follows:

Address position is similar to classic.

Backswing has an early wrist cocking.

Top of the backswing have a limited pelvic rotation compared to shoulder rotation, limited body movement to the right, all of left foot on the ground.

On the downswing, the hips initiate.

Upon impact, the hips are ahead of the shoulders, with a relatively large degree of right lateral flexion in the trunk.

On the follow-through, there is hyperextension in the lower back, and the momentum is directed upward.

In the case of the classic swing, the characteristics are as follows:

Address is similar to modern.

Backswing has a late wrist cocking.

Top of the backswing have an equal amount of pelvic and shoulder rotation, large movement of body to the right, and only the left toes in contact to the ground.

On the downswing, the whole body initiates.

At impact, the hips are equal with the shoulders, with low amount of right lateral flexion in the trunk.

On the follow-through, the lower back is in relatively neutral position, with the momentum directed forward.

After reading this article, I found myself doing mostly the modern with some classic aspects. One major difference that I do with my own follow-through is I set my follow-through just like how I set at the top of my backswing. I feel that it is most accurate this manner. My type of swing can actually be considered a hybrid.

Now that we have easy access to watch all types of golf swings in YouTube, it can be confusing, overwhelming and difficult to identify whether a modern or a classic swing is applied. It appears that it can always be a combination of both. Although, when you keenly watch the top professionals in the PGA tour, you can possibly find some hybrid similarities.

If and when you have a coach, you may want to ask them if they are aware of the two swing types. It will be quite normal to push one’s knowledge and to express their own teaching methodology based on visual, feel, experience, research and perceptions.

As a matter of fact, my own approach to coaching may not work or be acceptable to all. I have started to finally believe that the golf swing is and will never be a natural phenomenon. It must be formulated to complete the equation. Thus, I focus on how the body must move on certain lines, while holding on to the club, and allowing it to follow.

Work on and develop your swing diligently and patiently with a deep sense of engagement in understanding the biomechanics, psychology and the philosophy behind it. Find the formula. Allow it to grow and absorb everything willingly. Thus, the evolution of your own swing will take its own course.

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