December 16, 2018- by Steven E. Greer, MD
Over the last few months of indoor swinging and thinking, I have started to view the entire swing as a throwing motion similar to a good football quarterback. In both sports, proper form has the right elbow leading the hands as the body opens up to face the target.
I told this to Jason Carbone at Baltusrol and he replied with a tip to read Extraordinary Golf by Fred Shoemaker. I bought the book and was stunned to see that he had come up with the same ideas that I had.
Shoemaker has students actually throw clubs. They always demonstrate nearly perfect golf swing form despite their actual golf swings being quite awkward.
I too have thought about throwing golf clubs as a drill. It started two-years ago when I realized that the motion made while skipping a stone across water was similar to a good golf swing. Then, I observed that great golfers, such as Brooks Koepka, have a right elbow that goes down in front of the belly and belt buckle before the right forearm releases the club. That is when I realized that the good golf swing is really just a throwing motion, tossing the club handle the same way a QB throws a football.
Fred Shoemaker tries to explain why his students can suddenly look like professional golfers when they throw clubs by using psychological terms. As an MD, I prefer to view this in scientific neurological terms.
We are all born with the neurocircuitry to allow us to have good golf swings. It is part of our spinal cord vestibular system as well as the cerebellum. Balance feedback from the inner ear is part of the circuitry too. Throwing objects must have been so important to the survival of ancient ancestors that evolution printed it into our brains.
However, almost all people struggle to hit a golf ball because they are presented with a round white piece of kryptonite known as the golf ball. This causes us to hit AT the ball rather than throw through the point of impact toward the target.
By hitting at the ball, we stop turning our shoulders and the swing aborts before impact. This is what causes “casting”, where the club head is released too soon and gets ahead of the hands.
Try this. Indoors, without a golf ball before you, swing a club as you visualize throwing it. If you have an empty field or open practice range, actually throw your clubs down the target line. If you do not, just go to a driving range and think only about throwing the club and not about the golf ball. Film it and look at your right shoulder near impact. It should continue to turn into the follow-through and not stall.
Having said all of that, I am a firm believer in understanding the mechanics of the swing and practicing them in drills. For example, in the video above, my initial backswing was wrong because I made no effort, and this led to a bad position at the top of the swing. Next time, I will use my proper form in the backswing and then simply visualize throwing the cub for the downswing.
But one should understand that the actual real swing should not be a conscious process generated from the cortex. Your vestibular system and cerebellum do it all.
Watch how my neurocircuitry corrected for the bad position in the top of the swing.
We are all born with a very powerful computer. We just have to unleash it.