Throughout my years of teaching I continually hear comments about how weight moves through the golf swing. There are certain words used that I think need to be stricken from golfer’s vocabularies. The first word we will discuss is “shift.”
You often hear that the backswing should start with a shift of weight to the back foot. Or you might hear that the primary goal is to shift your weight behind the ball. To most people the word shift means, side to side or lateral movement. The problem with that is the misapplication an amateur makes in his backswing to achieve shift.
In studying the great players of the game, I’ve found that the backswing consists of a rotational transfer of weight to the top of the backswing not a lateral or side-to-side movement of weight.
At the address position the player’s hips should be inside of the back foot, and the spine tilted slightly back at address.
From the correct address position we see that at the top of the backswing the hips stay within the confines of their starting position with no lateral or side-to-side motion. The spine is still pointing to the right. There is more body mass on the right side or behind the ball than there was at address, but this movement of weight came from rotation of the shoulders and hips around the spine.
One of my favorite gaffes was an analysis of Nick Price’s swing when he was winning everything and was recognized as one of the premier ball strikers in the game.
When an analyst noticed evidence of Price’s hips moving to his left or laterally at the start of his downswing, the analyst said, “Nick Price has a fault found in many great players - he has a lateral movement of weight to start his downswing.”
I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this statement. If many great players have this lateral movement, maybe, just maybe, it is not a fault.
The weight also has to move on a downward vector as it goes slightly forward. This downward movement is apparent in all great ball strikers, and it is a key element to understanding how the weight moves.
Jack Nicklaus stated that he started his downswing by slamming his left heel down on the ground.
I use the analogy of a boxer hitting an uppercut. The boxer loads down into the ground and then comes out of the ground with force.
The ground is a big part of an effective motion. Imagine if someone put a harness around your torso and lifted you off of the ground and you tried to hit a golf ball. You would be powerless.
Another way is to feel your left knee go down and forward slightly to initiate the downswing. You can also try to keep your left shoulder moving forward and low. Keeping your back to the target as you start down has worked for many of my students.