One of the biggest faults I see from amateur golfers is a violent move of the arms and shoulders when the club changes directions at the top of the swing. This will cause errant and inconsistent shots for a variety of reasons. If the arms are in control of the golf club, anything can happen. The versatility of the hands and arms is a wonderful thing for many activities. For the golf swing however, versatility is the opposite of the consistency that we all strive for.
Now for the really bad news; in most cases, this violent move from the upper body is the golfers best chance to produce any power. Power must be created in the backswing in order for us to release that power in the forward swing. If you do not create and store that energy, well your only hope is to make that violent move and hope for the best.
The energy I am speaking of will be felt in the trail hip and side of the golfer as he or she approaches the top of the swing. As you approach the top of the swing you should feel pressure building in this hip. In order to do this we must get some resistance or stability from the lower body while at the same time turning the shoulders on plane. If the rotation of the hips and lower body is restricted while we turn against it with the chest and shoulders you will be stretching the muscles along the lead side of your body. This is critical because by stretching the muscles, they will shorten faster in the forward swing. The faster they shorten, the faster the club will eventually be moving at impact. (See Kinematic Sequence 2009).
In the above sequence the hips are allowed to turn too much into the backswing. This will reduce the amount of stretch the golfer creates. A significant shoulder turn is wasted unless there is a significant difference between the amount of upper body and lower body turn as shown below. The difference in this case is shown as 61 degrees, that is, the difference between the sizable upper body rotation coupled with the restricted hip rotation. This golfer has significantly created energy that will be release into the forward swing.
While it is nice to be able to make a big turn into the backswing, it is more important that you get resistance from the lower body. If this means the length of the backswing is shorter that is fine. If the lower body is able to resist the rotation of the upper body the result will be a more efficient swing. Said another way, even though the backswing is shorter, the golfer will be able to hit the ball further. What a nice combination!
George Connor is the Director of Instruction at The Academy of Golf at Gillette Ridge in Bloomfield, CT. 860-724-1430 or firstname.lastname@example.org