In this section I want to talk about the most important position in the golf swing. Many times in magazines they’ll feature a centerfold spread and they’ll have individual frames of the golf swing from a few different angles, this position and so on, and we get to think of the golf swing as a sequence of static positions that are put together through motions, and that’s really true.
Because our golf swing works through space, it has to work through a certain space with a certain timing and movement for it to work correctly. But there is one position that is more important than any other and when you think about it makes perfect sense; it’s the moment of impact.
The moment that the club strikes the ball is the most important moment because that’s when the ball gets the information from the club. What does impact position look like? Well, if you look at the tour players in the moment of impact what you’re going to notice is that they started their swing here and they look like this when they strike the ball (refer to video). The handle of the shaft and the shaft are leaning forward. The left arm is very firm, the left wrist is flat, and the right knee and right side are starting to work inward. Towards the ball and past the ball, the weight has already transferred to the left side and the left side is firming up getting into a very solid position; what we often call in teaching “hitting into a firm left side”. But the most important thing is that when we strike the ball that we have a fairly straight line between the left arm and the club. The left arm should be hugging and be very connected to the chest.
I’ve got here what we call an impact bag. If you’ve been around golf at all you may have seen various versions of impact bags. It’s just a nylon cooler bag filled with sand. First of all I’m just going to press the club into the bag. I’m going to take my club and place the edge of the bag in the position where the ball would ordinarily be, which is just front of center. And I’m going to make a little bit of a back swing and I’m going to slowly come down and just press the club into the back as if I’m trying to push it along the ground. Now if I do that like this I have no power, I’m not using the big muscles in my body to help me pull the power from the ground the muscles in my thighs and my hips and back are all very important in creating this pressure against the golf ball.
So, if I just put it here and just press I feel very solid in this position. If was hitting a golf ball I would it is very square and very flush and I would compress the ball a lot. Again, that’s the position you see the tour players in. Now the neat thing is that is doesn’t matter what shot your hitting or what club your hitting you’re going get in the same impact position, relatively speaking.
There may be a slight change in ball position so the angel of the shaft may be slightly different but basically you’re going to be in the same position. What I’m going to do now is start making little swings. And at first I’m just going to tap the bag, even though I’m in a great impact position. Boy, I’d love to hit a golf ball like this every time. My club is not moving it has to move. So let’s get is swinging. Set up and make a little back swing and just tap the bag and try and hold that impact position. As we said earlier what is making my club; the hinging and unhinging of my wrists and the rotation of my body. All those factors combined give the club a little speed but I’m not going to swing hard in fact I’ve choked down on the club. I’m just going to swing nice and easy as if I was hitting a little punch shot out of the tree line.
Let’s switch clubs to something more lofted and I’m going to pretend that I’m chipping. Choke down and give it a little love tap. Now what you’ll notice or I should point is that every element of a golf swing is in that little shot. And by every element I mean the movement of my arms, hinging of my wrists and there might be a tiny bit of weight shift. I’m not turning much here, I don’t need to it’s a short shot, so I’ve got this little bit of unhinging of my wrists. Now do I need to always hinge my wrists? No, if it’s a real short shot, there’s going to be almost no hinge of the wrist but there is going to be movement of my body, again getting into that impact position.
Now, with a driver I’m not tapping the ball, I’m smashing the ball. Now I’m not going to do it, I’ll just simulate it because I don’t want to break the driver. But if I was swinging the driver I would have a bigger turn, a bigger arm swing a deeper wrist hinge, I would rotate faster, but I would still slam that club into the back of the impact area, what we would call in teaching “closing the door ” slamming the door shut. Every tour player looks like this when they strike the golf ball.
Now do not constantly slam the impact bag and hurt yourself. You just want to get the feeling of impact. So I’m just going to hit it a little harder to get the feeling. So you see what is happening. I’m just unhinging my wrists right at the moment my balance and body get here. It’s a lot like hitting a baseball. Most people hit golf balls by falling to their back foot and flipping their wrists. You don’t hit the ball very solid doing that.
People often wonder how the tour players hit the golf ball so far and so straight with tremendous velocity off the club face and its really because they’re unleashing all that storing energy of the club through the wrist and the hanged right at the movement that it hits the golf ball and there using their body to add power. In conclusion I’ll say; whether you’re hitting a chip shot or driving the ball down the fairway your impact position is going to be very much the same.