The Downswing

Starting the Downswing

As the right arm begins to unfold and the left hip moves one or two inches towards the target before it begins to turn out of the way, the downswing is in full swing mode. In other words the game is on. No holding back, no stopping and no bailing out. There is no turning back.

As the force of the arms swinging down the lower part of the body is moving out of the way. There are some very important moves that have to take place for a solid shot with maximum clubhead speed.

The speed of the arms and hands and the tension in the lower body is what creates the clubhead speed you are in search of.

  1. When the hands pass your belt buckle the right knee will begin to move down the intended line and the right heel will come up off of the ground. At the same time, the body is moving parallel to the target line and the left knee is about to become involved.
Body is Moving Parallel to the Target Line

1. Body is Moving Parallel to the Target Line

  1. The purpose of the left knee at this moment is to distribute the force from the downswing and maintain a strong foundation for a solid finish. The left leg must straighten out 90% of its maximum, it can not over extend.
Left Knee Returns to Address Position

2. Left Knee Returns to Address Position

Snapping the left knee or overextending it can cause injury. If you snap the knee too soon it will also weaken the foundation and the downswing will not have any stability.

As the golf club starts down it must remain on the same path it went back on. The path is a slight arc going back down into the back of the golf ball. The only way you can remain on this path is to start the right arm first and then the rest of the body can follow. If the right shoulder starts first in the downswing the golf club will have a tendency to swing outside the arc too much and if the left hip starts first in the downswing the golf club will have a tendency to start inside the arc too much.

The golf club has to stay on this correct path until impact. The combination of the left hip turning back out of the way and the right shoulder following the arms will enable the golf club to stay on the correct path. At any time if there is a change in direction of the body, the club will come off of the path.

At impact the left arm is long, the left arm has turned out of way, and your bottom half has moved back towards the address position. The right arm is now long (speed of downswing has made the right arm longer than at address), the right shoulder and head are slightly behind the golf ball, and your right heel is off of the ground.

Two Feet Before Impact

At the top of the backswing the clubface is open and as it begins to swing down, the face has to start closing immediately. The closing of the clubface is a long process that has to happen during the entire down swing. The clubface can not square up at the bottom of the hit. If you try to square the clubface up at impact, you have to be extremely quick and strong. 

The only case where you can “take more time” squaring the clubface in the golf swing is if you hook the ball. Getting the face back to square is not a quick flick of the arms and hands either.  Remember, it is a long process that starts at the top of the backswing.

By the time the shaft reaches your right knee, the clubface has to be square or close to it. You only have three more feet for the face to be one or two degrees closed and it is moving at 75-115 mph. If the face is open more than this amount, the ball is slicing to the right. 

Clubhead Closing 2 Feet Before Impact

Clubhead Closing 2 Feet Before Impact

There have been a million words written on the couple of feet before impact and I know that the absolute death of the downswing lies in the last couple of feet. If you have started the downswing with the right shoulder or left hip, this will be a very difficult way to improve your game.

I do not believe the masses have the strength or the need to swing the body first in the downswing. Their arms simply cannot keep up. 

Making sure the golf club is swinging on the arc is the first and foremost part of the downswing. If you can swing the golf club on the arc with maximum clubhead speed, you will head down the road of success with your golf game. The body compliments the arms swinging the club; it is not the opposite.

When you addressed the golf club, your right hand was even or slightly under the left hand. As the golf club begins to swing back, the left hand is slightly on top of the right. At the top of the backswing, the left hand is on top of the right, and now the golf club begins to swing down and as the club approaches the golf ball the right hand will roll over the left near and at impact. From that moment on, the right hand will be on top of the left. 

Clubhead Closing 2 Feet Before Impact

Before Impact Right Arm about to Roll Over Left Arm

Clubhead Closing 2 Feet Before Impact

After Impact Right Arm Rolls
Over Left Arm

The roll I just mentioned is referred to as the “release”. This is yet another golf word that has had a million words written about. The release takes place just before impact and will insure a clubface that is slightly closed. 

Another topic that comes up in this part of the golf swing is “timing”. The timing aspect of the game is when the body works in concert with the arms and hands. When the left hip turns out of the way at the moment the right hand rolls the clubface closed at impact, this is what is referred to as perfect timing. 

Let there be no misunderstanding, it is certainly easier to write about timing the golf club correctly than to actually do it. The easy way out is to instruct students to hit one million golf balls, and that ought to do it. One million golf shots divided by 50 years is twenty thousand golf shots a year. I can not say I have hit 20 thousand golf shots a year, I can say I have averaged 10 thousand and my timing is not always exactly how I would prefer. 

On the flip side, if you are not swinging the golf club back and down on the correct path with the correct posture and aim, you can hit 2 million shots and your timing is NOT going to be in any different place than if you hit 200 shots a year.

Full Golf Swing Fundamentals Series

1. The Grip
2. Correct Address – Foundation of the Golf Swing

3. Perfect your backswing with the one piece take away

4. The Top of the Backswing

5. The First Move Down

7. Golf Swing – Impact and Follow Through

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Brian is an award winning golf writer and is the founder and editor of Australian Senior Golfer. He is a former Sydney journalist who had little interest in golf till he hit his first ball at the age of 49 (and a half). Since then golf has just about overtaken his life. Brian founded ASG in April 2008 and has since covered every Australian Open, Presidents Cups, World Cups and numerous other big men’s and women’s tournaments, spending days inside the ropes with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, numerous amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association and won the award for Best News Report for 2016 - 2017

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