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“Throw the Ball – Don’t Hit It”

Almost all golfers, in an effort to create power, add some degree of upper body muscle in the start of the downswing. In fact, the Rules of Golf state that you are supposed to add muscle – “the ball must be fairly struck at.” To fairly strike at something, connotes a flexing of the muscles. That makes Arnold Palmer’s swing legal and Jack Nicklaus’ swing illegal. Jack’s swing is a combination of a “scrape” and a “spoon,” both illegal moves according to the rules. 

Contact with the ball in Jack’s swing is totally incidental to the club-path – there is no effort to “strike.” Of course the definition of a legal swing needs to be rewritten by the USGA, but that’s another story. When players add muscle starting down, some of the energy from the arms and shoulders goes into the ball, but part of it also goes simultaneously back into the body, causing an immediate change in the path of the arms and club. Leverage will work either way on a see-saw and it does the same thing in a golf swing. This is not merely my opinion, it is a physics law (3rd) – “for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.”

Any energy going back into the body during the downswing causes a change in the swing-plane that must be compensated for – through alignment, grip, ball position, or postural compensations – or else the shot will go off-line. When you watch Freddie Couples and other players with similar power applications, they don’t hit the ball, they simply allow the arms to “dead fall” from the top of the back swing and their core rotation slings the arms and club through the ball to the finish of the swing. The physical action is a “throw.”

There is no effort to strike the ball with the arms and club whatsoever. It’s as if the ball were sitting in the middle of the club face at the top of the back swing and they allow it to be slung from the club. When the swing is executed properly, no energy is internalized to the body, and the swing-plane doesn't change.

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