This is more a feeling of a way to swing, something that happens when you are connected, or swinging the golf club with your “core muscles.” Remember first of all that you cannot control the golf club to any large extent, with power and accuracy, with only your hands and arms.  you have to get other parts of your body involved. I for one have spent countless hours and hundreds of thousands of golf balls learning to swing the golf club in an effortless, consistent and controlled manner under tournament conditions no matter if I felt good or if I felt lousy. I never get to play much, because I work in the pro shop most of the time, so I have a lot of time to watch golfers swing on the driving range and on the 1st tee. I also have a lot of time to think about the golf swing.

Backtracking a few months, I played a golf marathon on September 7, 2009, Labor Day, to benefit the Major Dan Rooney’s Folds of Honor foundation. To make a long story short, Mike Hogan, another PGA professional and I played 162 holes of golf in 11 hours and 14 minutes. We started at 6:16 a.m. on the #1 blue tee at Dutch Hollow CC. I didn’t hit one good shot for the first four holes. When you are standing on the tee at 6:30 in the morning dog tired, with no golf swing, knowing that you have at least 11 hours of golf left, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out that you better adjust pretty quickly and find a golf swing that will last for the next 11 hours.

Almost by instinct, I stood up to the ball on the 5th tee and just turned my shoulders back and away from the ball, and my golf swing just kind of happened, taking on a life of its own that sustained me and it until 7:30 p.m. The important thing that I learned about swinging a golf club was that this was a truly connected golf swing, one that could repeat under all conditions and situations, time after time, hour after hour. Since I do not really play much, I thought about the golf marathon and my golf swing while I worked my hours in the golf shop, and practiced it whenever I could. I had the feeling down, but I lacked an understanding of some of the technical fundamental aspects of what I was doing. I practiced and found that the simple shoulder turn happened by just taking the club half way back to waist high, the just rotating my shoulders around my vertical axis. This worked great on occasion, but I kept going back to my key swing flaw, which is an outside across pull hook as the club shaft crosses the line.

After a particularly strenuous work week in October, I finally had a chance to hit a few balls on the driving range. As I started, I could not even hit my 8 iron 100 yards. My swing was a weak over the top cut that was producing nothing. I had the feeling of the shoulder turn, but just could not make contact with the ball. Then I had the realization that the key for me with the last stage of connectivity, one that I used in the golf marathon, was to keep my upper right arm, from the elbow to the arm pit, glued to my right upper body as I turned my shoulders. Almost as miraculously as I found a golf swing on September 7, I found a whole new vista to my golf shots a month later on the range. I went from not being able to almost even make contact with the ball, to hitting pure golf shot after golf shot, with power, precision, distance and accuracy. My alignment made sense, and the ball was suddenly jumping off the club face in the direction that I wanted to hit it. I took the swing to the golf course, and it worked out there. I played an important challenge match with a neighboring golf club, for which I was very nervous after two straight really bad performances, and my swing and move held up for 18 holes under the pressure of having to perform under the gun. Stepping up to the 14th tee, a par three, our last hole for the day with a 1 up lead in the match, I hit third, after our opponents both hit the green. I stuck to my routine and fundamentals, and hit a six iron to 15 feet of the hole.

I had never really thought much about my upper right arm, as I now realize that it is my key swing fault. My right arm disconnects from my body and golf swing and moves away from my body during the downswing, causing a pull hook that has ruined many good rounds with out of bounds shots and shots into hazards in the worst possible places. Now, with the upper right arm glued to the right side of my body, at least on the downswing, I am able to control my direction and my distance. More important to the entire process, I know where the club is at the transition point ( from end of backswing to beginning of downswing), so I am better able to control the club head through impact and control the direction, distance and shape of the golf shop.

The most important thing here is that this move held up under, for me anyway whether self-imposed or otherwise, extreme pressure.

I have spent many years working on keeping my arms connected to my body during the golf swing, experiencing many peaks and valleys along the way. Playing 162 holes of golf in 1 day was the best thing I could have done, particularly since it was right after 54 holes in 2 days of our PGA Section Championship at the Shenendoah Course at the Turning Stone Resort in Oneida, NY. I finally finished the entire tournament come hell or high water, and feel like at least this year I have accomplished something. I shot 90-90-87, but more important, through many quadruple bogeys, I hung in there and played as hard as I could, didn’t quit, and didn’t give up.

Getting back to staying connected, it is a learning process, but one that is vital to the process of building a competent, repetitive golf swing. I now know that I can control the direction of the shot by the direction I begin my shoulder turn, as long as my upper right arm stays glued to the right side of my upper body during the downswing. It must return there smoothly right after the transition from backswing to downswing. If I separate my upper right arm from my body a little or more than a little during the backswing (in order to get a little more distance or club head speed) it must return to the correct position (glued to the right side of the upper body ) to keep control of the visualized golf shot.

I still utilize the Target Side Strong move that I have detailed on this website, weight left with no sway off the ball onto the right side during the backswing. The great thing about keeping my upper right arm glued to my upper right side of my body is that is that it makes all the rest of the golf swing parts make sense. It produces a smooth, relaxed tempo, and swings that vary in power output, high or low, and fades or draws. When I reach for a little more, I still have to be careful not to get disconnected and hit my little round ruining snap hook.

I feel excited again about my swing and my game, and know that I am going in the right direction. It feels good to be excited about golf again, to want to play, to want to get out there and compete and hit golf shots. Because now I know that I can at least compete with the other pros, and I feel like I can show my real golf game.



OCTOBER 23, 2009

But the greatest thing about glueing or tucking the upper right arm to the right side my body is that I am bringing the other half, the forgotten half of the core muscles into play. I think of how conditioned I am to think of core muscles only as abs, chest, thighs etcetera, in other words, the front side of my body. We also have a back side to our bodies that contain even stronger muscles. With the upper right arm close to my right side, the immediate thing that I feel is my back (upper and lower back ) muscles, my hamstrings, and my calf muscles being called to work. It is kind of like an automatic physical response to tucking the right elbow (simply) into my right side. I am reminded of a slow motion video of Tiger Woods and how he goes down after the ball, where he gets all his power. 

In my own case, I feel the power of my back muscles and leg muscles as a more potent source of strength than my front side core muscles. I have not felt this power source in many years although I now realize that his is and has always been a key component of my golf swing. I have spent so much time working on so many other mechanics, that I had forgotten the real meat and potatoes of a repetitive, competent swing. It took a couple days for me to figure out why my back hurt since I have been tucking my right elbow, well, I don’t think I tuck the right elbow as much as place mu upper right arm close to my body on the down swing, through impact and then release into a follow through, which I am much better able to complete since I have been using this move.

I was hitting balls with Zeke at night under a spotlight off the back of the house, when as I hit a ball in the dark from the vacant lot next door to my backyard, I actually felt a sense of happiness and joy as I realized that my back and hamstring and all the core muscles of my back were actually swinging the club, not just the front of my body. I felt the good tension, power, and straining of my back muscles as I hit wedge after wedge, in the dark, or every kind of terrible lie imaginable. All I can say is that it was a great revelation.