By Lou Thibeault
As I said to my cousin many times, you cannot play golf without a downswing!
My last article had to do with the backswing, how to start it, and what some key thoughts are available to help. It is important to point out at this time that too many swing thoughts can interfere with the rhythm and one piece action of a swing that really takes place so quickly. The Swing thought that initiates the downswing may be as different to each of us as it was for the backswing. Power starts from the ground up and footwork and lower body work have much to do with the club head speed and energy to the club head. There are many articles written about what truly happens first. Different players have discovered that the swing thought that worked does not work today. The development of muscle memory takes a long time with many hours on the practice tee and every good player has to find the thought or action that repeats. A couple downswing keys that seem to work well for right handed players;
26. Planting the left foot down or shifting the lower body weight to the left foot.
27. The feel of driving the left hip toward the target area before any other part of your body moves.
28. Pulling the butt end of the handle down and back to the ball.
29. Dropping the right elbow down toward the right hip.
30. The feel of the upper left arm dictating the pull or downswing.
However, while trying to make a good downswing; many players create a bad position on the way down with a premature shoulder turn. Turning the shoulders too soon on the way down will open the body or turn the body to the left of the target before the club head can contact the ball. Most people call this going over the top which creates a swing path across the ball. When the clubface is square to that line you will pull the ball. When the face is open to that line, you may slice or cause ball flights to the right side rough on every hole.
There are many other swing thoughts that could initiate the downswing and most likely, you will always come back to the one that works best for you. Experiment on the practice tee with a variety of ideas and actions until you find the right one for you. I know that I am repeating myself, but mental and physical swing changes require time for development. Keep trying, don’t give up and invest the time necessary to reach your goals.
Lou has been a golf professional since 1953. He has worked at many clubs around the country with his longest connections on Cape Cod and Maine. He was a teaching pro at the Island Country Club in the early 80’s and the head golf pro and Director of golf at The Hideaway Beach Club on Marco Island for ten years. He is presently the teaching pro at the Links of Naples.