Presented with the opportunity to watch Robert Garrigus’ golf swing in slow motion it occurred to me that it would be interesting to compare his powerful action to that of a baseball player, especially a power hitter. I wasn’t sure what I would come up with, as I hadn’t previously broken down any baseball swings, but after viewing Barry Bonds and putting him side-by-side with Garrigus I knew I had some pretty cool parallels.
Average or below –average golf players often have serious problems with athletic sequencing, that is, the ability to start the forward motion of the golf swing from the ground, with the upper body continuing to move backwards for a short period before being “caught”, or pulled into the forward swing by the lower body, setting up a condition of “lagging”, whereby the clubhead trails the motion and energy is stored in the hands and wrists to be used where it is needed most, at impact. Studies have shown that this ability is the single greatest divider of the “haves” and “have-nots” in the striking of the golf ball.
In order to appeal to a more natural motion I often have students hold the golf club like a baseball bat and wait for a pitch, at which point I will lob an imaginary ball toward them and have them swing. What usually (not always, unfortunately) happens at this point is that the student will lift the left foot and stride forward before swinging the club forward, producing a usable sequence of lower body first movement. The huge difference between the baseball swing and a golf swing is that the requirements for precision in the golf swing preclude the lifting and moving of the left foot and leg. Thus, the student has to be taught to push off the right foot and transfer weight to the left by sliding the hips forward and left (I like to call it a 45 degree push, meaning the slide is directed 45 degrees left of target) without the head moving forward.
In watching Garrigus and Bonds you can see how both use the ground effectively through lowering (compressing), and how the analogy might be helpful for those struggling to make sense of hip and leg movement in the swing.