Golf swing instruction tells us to observe: Circles. The back’swing’, moving clockwise; the down’swing’, moving counter-clockwise. Since the clubhead is moving in circles, why not investigate whether what’s moving it also is moving in circles. And.....what moves the clubhead in the first place? This from Jack Nicklaus in Golf My Way: “….the legs and body are the engine of the golf swing….The arms are simply connecting rods to the club….I regard the hands as linkage….” This from Alastair Cochran and John Stobbs (English physicists who studied the golf swing in depth) in search for the perfect swing: “During his downswing, a good golfer can generate up to four horsepower. This is a surprisingly high power; and must need at least 30 pounds of muscles, working flat out, to produce it.
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This figure excludes those muscles which merely stabilize his joints in action; and it leaves no doubt that the big muscles of the legs and trunk must play a greater part in the top-class player’s striking of the ball than those of his arms and hands.” (The volume of 30 pounds of meat at your grocery store is far greater than that of the muscles in your arms and hands!) Are the legs and trunk rotating around in circles? They are, as you’ll find in our book. Hmmm...... Then why are “back” and “forth” the dominant directional indicators in golf instruction?
“Take the club back” is a phrase we’ve all heard. But where is “back”? In the most-common face-on view of the golf ‘swing’, during the first third of the ‘backswing’ where the clubshaft moves 90 degrees from address back to horizontal, the motion seems to match the words being used to describe it (‘take the club back’). This action is the start of the ‘backswing’ and back is the opposite of forward, the direction the ball is intended to go. All is well. Trouble is the ‘backswing’ has another 180 degrees to go, and the clubhead will be moving forward all this time--!