April 9, 2020- by Steven E. Greer, MD
The key to good ball striking from fairway to green is to have a shift of the center of gravity towards the target early in the downswing. This generates momentum and a force that offsets the opposing centrifugal force of the club that wants to pull you backward to your right side, away from the target.
A steady head is crucial in order to achieve a tour-caliber swing. If your head and body move away from the target, then you will hit very unreliable shots. You will have to release early and flip the club to make contact. However, it is impossible to have perfect timing. Sometimes you will make contact and feel good about yourself. Then, inexplicably, you will chunk it, thin it, or shank it, and want to quit the game.
Well, how does one control their center of gravity? The key is in your pelvis.
Wherever your sacrum, or center of your pelvis, goes, then that is where your center of gravity is going to go too. The massive weight of your upper body is what controls your center of gravity. Your torso is stacked on top of your pelvis. Where your pelvis goes, so goes the center of gravity.
People have different bony structures and turn their hips back-and-forth differently in the swing. Mike Adams gets the credit for realizing this and having his students do anthropometric tests. Jason Carbone clued me in on this last November and it really fixed my backswing.
For some people, they will twist around a rather stable central flagpole axis. Then, during the transition, they have to push their rear-end towards the target to achieve this center of gravity shift. For people like me, our hips move in a big arc. I physically cannot twist around the center axis (see 1:00 mark of the video below).
However, for all people, the pelvis does not twist around a perfectly stable flagpole axis. There is a big arc that the sacrum and pelvis move on. This aerial view of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player demonstrates that.
Regardless of how you achieve the backswing, the common thing that happens in all good ball strikers is that their right hip, or right gluteal region (AKA their rear-end) goes past the mid-line towards the target at the top of the swing. For some people, like Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods, they lunge their pelvis in the transition as they start the downswing. For others, like Jack Nicklaus or me, we get into that position at the top of the swing before the transition.
Once you realize this concept of center of gravity and getting the right gluteal region past the mid-line, you can start to feel this. It is like a dance move. You are moving your hips.
I had discovered much of the above through my own experimentation. However, I recently saw a nice online video by a Stanford golf instructor, Jake Hutton, who demonstrated the mid-line concept well.
In the video at the top, you see me doing all of this for the first time. I had a lot of success on my first attempt. I recommend, however, that you start indoors with air swings. Sleep on it, then attempt it with real balls. Be sure to pause at the top, feel it, then hit, as your beginning drill.