The 2016 PGA of America Show

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If you’re a die-hard golfer and eager to know everything golf – you’re in good company here!

Watch out for all the #GolfScience posts both here and at www.golfbytourmiss.com over the four days of the PGA Show 2016. Lots of exciting snippets will be posted during and after the Show.

Results from Recent Minimalist Golf Swing Research – Part II

Some Exciting Results from Recent Research on the Minimalist Golf Swing – the world’s only anatomically efficient golf swing

Part II

While Part I was data collected using motion capture and force plates, Part II is based on comparing a golfer’s existing swing’s muscle activation patterns with the Minimalist Golf Swing patterns after a single session in the laboratory.

The muscles chosen for Electromyography (EMG) studies were all trail side ones (right-side, as all participants were right-handed): external oblique (EO); pectoralis major (PM), biceps femoris (BF), gluteus maximus (GM) and latissimus dorsi (LD).

While the names do not matter, the role of the 3 main muscles are:

EO rotates the torso; PM and LD pull the upper arm towards the body during the downswing.

Table 1

Calculations were made as a percent change from the pre-intervention to the post-intervention swings. It can be seen from the table that muscle activation of the EO and PM muscles was much higher than the participants’ existing swing during ALL phases of the swing. LD was less during the backswing (it is designed to not have a big role at this time) but contracted much more forcefully during the downswing, especially the early downswing. Thus the MGS is able to increase muscle activation for a more forceful swing. However, feedback from all 12 participants was that the swing felt easier on the body and the follow-through happened effortlessly.

EO

PM

LD

The stretching of the three main muscles during the backswing probably allows them to contract more forcefully without any extra effort on the part of the golfer. At the same time, the MGS’s ‘weight’ which remains slightly forward of center during the back- and down-swings plus the lead hip not being ‘stuck’ allows a much freer through-movement of the swing and ease of follow-through.

Kiran Kanwar

  •   Developer of The Minimalist Golf Swing System -100% scientific, simple and specific
  •   BS (physics, math); MS (sports science, nutrition); PhD (biomechanics – student)
  •   Class A Member: the LPGA, The PGA (GB&I), The NGA of India, The PGA of India

Some Exciting Results from Recent MGS Research Part I

Some Exciting Results from Recent Research on the Minimalist Golf Swing – the world’s only anatomically efficient golf swing

Part I

The two pictures of a golfer wearing reflective markers on the pelvis and arms and standing on force plates represent a view from the target side of a golfer at ‘early downswing’. At this stage, the lead arm (here left arm of a right-handed golfer) is horizontal and the clubshaft (usually) vertical. The red arrows show the quantity and direction of ground reaction force, an indication of how forcefully the golfer can use the ground to push himself off, for eventually better club speed.

The picture on the left is of a golfer with his existing swing, while the one on the right is when he uses the Minimalist Golf Swing, after a single session in the laboratory.

Force plate pic

Research on muscle activation in the typical golf swing states that “At the end of the backswing, the hip and knee are flexed (bent).”  [from Electromyographic Analysis of the Hip and Knee During the Golf Swing by Bechler et al.] Combine that with information from a paper titled “A Review of Biomechanical Differences Between Golfers of varied Skill Levels” (http://multi-science.atypon.com/doi/pdf/10.1260/174795408785024117) which states that, “….recreational golfers demonstrated greater left lateral bending at the top of the backswing, resulting from sliding of the hips away from the target and dropping the left (lead) shoulder toward the ground.”

Together it can be seen that all golfers, to some extent or the other, have a trail hip which is flexed (bent) and at a higher level than the lead hip.

The Bechler et al. paper adds, “Forward swing (early downswing) is initiated as the trail hip begins to extend (straighten out), pushing the hip forward…”. Combine this observed downswing muscle activation pattern with the words of well-known PGA Tour chiropractor (http://www.golfbytourmiss.com/2015/01/a-glut-of-injury-on-the-pga-50-to-75-of-field-visit-physio-van-each-week/), “….many tour players are unable to rotate their lead hip area during the downswing, so have to forcefully power through with the trail-side gluteal muscles.”

It soon becomes apparent that golfers do not have a pure rotation of the pelvis/trunk region during either the back- or the through-swing, but one in which the bent and high trail hip must straighten and become level with the lead hip, before rotation can take place (see pic.  to understand better).

Put pic of hip level at top and early downswing here remove these words

Hence, as seen in the picture of the golfer on force plates on the left, although the right (trail side for this right-handed golfer) side hip is attempting to power through, the left side (as seen by the red arrow pointing vertically upwards) is “stuck” and does not reciprocally rotate. This probably happens during the straightening part of the right hip, at which time the torso has to drop its level down, in order to begin to rotate.

The red arrow through the lead (left) foot is much longer in the golfer’s existing swing, which implies that more force is being exerted by the golfer through that leg. This is a wasted force and probably keeps increasing, not creating any useful motion which might add to beneficial force transfer from the hips to the torso to the arms and finally to the club for a ‘summation of forces’ being passed on to the club.

With the MGS swing, the hips are always level with one-another, and the right trunk never rises during the backswing, so pure rotation begins earlier and is not impeded in any way. Thus, as seen in the force-plates picture on the right, there is a pure rotational force-couple being generated, with one red arrow pointing forward, the other backward.

Kiran Kanwar

  •   Developer of The Minimalist Golf Swing System -100% scientific, simple and specific
  •   BS (physics, math); MS (sports science, nutrition); PhD (biomechanics – student)
  •   Class A Member: the LPGA, The PGA (GB&I), The NGA of India, The PGA of India

Your swing – and Tiger’s – should resemble a modern car

Where Tiger – and YOU – go wrong

Concepts about the golf swing have truly never evolved since the time shepherd boys insouciantly swung their crocks and knocked pebbles into holes. Not in any meaningful, scientific manner. So, although Tiger’s coaches have all been smart folks, none of them has ever dared think ‘outside-the-box’ enough to understand they were teaching a flat-earth philosophy! How so? Let’s compare the golf swing to a nice, solid modern car.

The least any driver of a modern car expects is a smooth ride. So too should your body during your golf swing. At least the car has powerful shock absorbers to dissipate the impulse of a jarring dip. How can your poor ligaments, cartilage, muscles and not to forget spinal discs continue to do this throughout a long golf career?

The lead shoulder is the hub around which your wheel should be moving at impact, with its radius being your lead arm and clubshaft. Imagine you’re driving your car and the axle itself moved side-to-side or up and down. What a horrific ride!

At the same time, the engine that drives your car comprises just a single block housing some moving parts – the entire car does not have to move to power the rotation of a wheel!

Look at Tiger’s hub and his engine, then look at how the Minimalist Golf Swing’s hub stays stable and only the engine creates the motion, not every part of the vehicle moving the golf club!

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Tiger’s hub moves, how can the wheel (ie. clubhead) connect the road (grass) the same way everytime?

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Tiger’s car moves along with the engine – everything that can move does!

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Minimalist Golf Swing – the hub never moves out of place, the engine is contained within a powerful ‘block’ – the pelvis.

Jordan Spieth – An Anatomical Analysis of his Swing

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth – current number one golfer in the world. Great golfer, great human being!

This is an anatomical analysis of his swing, showing how even he can get still better with an anatomical solution.

You would find little of significance to  complain about with regard to his swing, using traditional means of assessment. With good timing, little things like the lead wrist position at the top can be easily undone during the downswing.

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The concept is totally different when looked at from an anatomical perspective, however. At the top, his trail shoulder is internally rotated and his hips are not level – the trail one is higher. Each golfer’s brain will have him undo these positions in any random sequence which is easiest for his body – during the process the world of traditional golf terms ‘transition’.

Jordan’s particular ‘undo’ style is to first drop down his trail trunk till his hips and knees are practically level. From this point, given the flexion of his spine, hips and knees, the hip joints get compressed and cannot rotate as easily as when the golfer stands tall.

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He then rotates his trail leg – thigh, mainly – a pattern often seen in junior golfers, who then typically retain that move for life.

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This push-off can be dangerous for three reasons: 1) whenever the trail thigh is pushed forward rapidly, it naturally takes the trail shoulder forward with it too, sometimes resulting in an over-the-top impact and a slice or a fade. 2) The hips do not have a horizontal-plane pure rotation, so they do not generate as much power-speed as one would expect for an athlete of his stature. 3) The push-forward of the trail thigh is also probably his body’s unique way of undoing the top-of-backswing internal rotation of his trail shoulder. 

The chicken wing in the late follow-through is also an indication of top-of-backswing shoulder internal rotation.

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The partial solutions for Jordan Spieth:

  1. Reduce the inhibition of the serratus anterior, trapezius (especially mid-) and rhomboids so the shoulder blades (scapulae) sit snugly against his thoracic-wall, to slightly help reduce internal trail-shoulder rotation

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  1. Do not push-off with the trail leg, keep the foot grounded until momentum pulls it off.

The complete solution for Jordan Spieth:

1. Use the Minimalist Golf Swing! All joints positioned perfectly at the top for an effective downswing, because with Minimalist the ‘top’ is the top of the downswing, not of the backswing, from which a ‘transition’ is required and is the most common time during which inconsistencies occur.

TIGER WOODS June ’15 – an ANATOMICAL & BIOMECHANICAL Analysis

TIGER WOODS June ’15 – an ANATOMICAL & BIOMECHANICAL Analysis SIMPLIFIED

[By a golf instructor with BS (physics, math); MS (sports science ie anatomy, orthopedic assessment, biomechanics, exercise physiology, exercise testing & prescription, sports nutrition etc.);                             PhD (biomechanics – student).]

Musculoskeletal Anatomy = the study  of the structure and capabilities of individual bones, muscles, joints (mostly at joint/segment level)

Biomechanics = the study of the structure and function (mostly at entire-limb or whole-body level) of living organisms



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Anatomy

Address: Trail shoulder and knee forward of lead side = CANNOT make a PURE rotation of hips/trunk. Also, ANY forward bend of the spine AT ALL prevents pure rotation – an upright posture is more efficient and safer.

[PURE ROTATION is the only body movement which can give BOTH distance and direction through a summation-of-speeds principal. See: http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1376&context=hsm_pubs]

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Backswing club parallel to ground: Trail shoulder already in internal rotation (will need a re-route to help club arrive from the inside). Trail pelvis raised (as seen from drop of lead knee), so the hips now cannot rotate into the downswing.

Backswing lead-arm parallel to ground: More shoulder internal rotation, more trail pelvis rise. Downswing squat position already beginning. Such a position only serves to ram the hip ‘socket’ (acetabulum) more firmly onto the ‘ball’ of the thigh bone (femur head).  Once again pure rotation cannot result, the trail hip has to push the body forward to start lower-body motion.

Backswing Top: With a lot of wrist-bend resulting in a horizontal shaft, the golfer must do work against gravity to get the club and hands back to a position of maximum gravitational potential energy. Such a position is a WASTE of EFFORT!

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Downswing lead-arm parallel to ground: From the top of Tiger’s backswing, a lot of wasted effort results in getting the club to this position, which is finally one where his hands and the club are in a position of Maximum Gravitational Potential Energy and can do useful, TARGETWARD WORK (application of force over a distance). 

With the terrific squat maintained at this stage by Tiger (OUCH say his back, hips and knees) hip/trunk rotation will be difficult and/or highly contrived, not natural.

Downswing club parallel to ground: The hips have spun open to a great extent, while the shoulders have stayed closed. Such a position requires exaggerated forward-flexion along with torquing of upper- and lower-spine in opposite directions (not to mention the neck in a third!) and causes a lot of low back issues.

Downswing pre-impact: Each golfer’s brain makes its own most-convenient compensations to allow a reroute-of the trail shoulder from internal rotation and a rotation of the pelvis from a lateral flexion (side-bend). Here, Tiger arches his spine to create space for the trail elbow to straighten in a manner closer to that elbow’s design.

The trail knee juts out, a sign that if the arms were to straighten right now the club would not be delivered sufficiently ‘from the inside’ (see previous post for more on this topic). When the trail knee and thigh are pushed forward so much, the trail shoulder arrives at the ball ‘internally rotated’, as indicated by very rounded shoulders at impact, and thus a ‘BS’ impact. [According to this blog, unless the club arrives well from the inside, a ‘bludgeon’ or ‘smother’ results, not PURE IMPACT see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UosXcURDg0Y]

club arriving from the inside

Biomechanics

Impact: The combined length of the lead shoulder and arm at impact is a sign of better utilization of ground-reaction-force and makes a longer lever – some term it ‘going normal’. Both are indications of better distance potential. HOWEVER, from the deep squat that Tiger gets into, there is not enough time to straighten out the torso maximally, so at impact he does not have as much height as he possibly can with a straighter starting posture and less squat-jump (the ‘jump-up’ part needs a very strong and young golfer to accomplish along with everything else a downswing must, within a 1/4 of a second!).

Also, the quantity of motion each body part has, eventually gets transferred to the ball. This ‘quantity’ is termed ‘angular momentum’. In a swing in which the trail shoulder or hip move nearer and further from the position of the golfer’s spine at address, the direction in which the ‘quantity of motion’ acts continually changes, much like spinning top gains wobble.

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In Conclusion

INCONSISTENCY and INJURY BOTH result from both excessive, useless motion AND from poor joint positions. It’s all very well to say ‘move the body thus’ or the ‘let the club do such-and-such’ However, the MIDDLE JOINTS such as the hips, knees, elbows and wrists get badly ‘jammed’ in the process. The 21st Century golf instructor needs a very sound understanding of not just the biomechanics of limb/whole-body structure but also of joint/segment level structure and function.

The MOST important thing about the golf swing

The MOST important thing about the golf swing

Regardless of anything else, the golf club MUST approach the ball FROM THE INSIDE.

NOT merely enough to strike the ball at it’s center, but on it’s inside right quadrant (for a right-handed golfer).

club arriving from the inside

To enable this, there are very many compensatory moves you can use, while starting down from the top of the backswing. You could slide your body towards target. You could drop your trail shoulder backwards. You could arch your spine…. And the list goes on. Your brain will figure out a pattern, to allow you (once you’re a fairly regular golfer) to arrive at the ball ‘from the inside’ – most of the time.

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        SLIDE

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     DROP TRAIL SHOULDER BACKWARDS

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                                                                                                       ARCH SPINE

However, when you are aroused, nervous, in unfamiliar surroundings, the timing, that is the ‘sequencing of body parts’ of your swing might change, and you will not make all of the compensatory movements you need to, to get from the top of your backswing to impact, in the limited time span of your downswing.

The ONLY way to arrive at the ball from the inside without any manipulating/compensatory/re-routing movements is to position your body at the ‘top of the downswing’, rather than the ‘top of the backswing’.

What on earth does that mean? That means, every joint must be placed so it is positioned for its role in the downswing.

So, the TWO MOST IMPORTANT body parts to position correctly are the trail shoulder and hip joints. The trail shoulder MUST be in external rotation and the trail hip level with the lead one, not higher.

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THAT’S ALL. You can, through trial and error, find positions that allow these two joints to be placed correctly, OR use the Minimalist Golf Swing, which positions ALL joints at the TOP of the DOWNSWING. Why do more?

John Jacobs’ Teachings – Relevant to the 21st Century?

Are the teachings of John Jacobs – and by extension all the famous golf instructors such as Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter, Hank Haney, Jim McLean and Jim Hardy who credit Jacobs as a major influence in their teachings – relevant for the 21st Century Golfer?

Before reading on, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbAe2vgfzbA

John Jacobs was put on the map of golf instructors’ for bringing a vital perspective to teaching the golf swing. In his own words, “…..my breakthrough as a teacher. I look at what the ball’s doing, and then I ask, ‘why’?” He refers to his always having prioritized what the club was doing at impact.

So, naturally then, the video is a classic, a must-watch, full of useful information for what a golfer might do to bring the club back to the ball correctly, and, based on the Ball Flight Laws.

Jacobs mentions that many people thought him to be the teacher of a flatter swing, back in the day. He explains that Ben Hogan’s arms were very flat too, but when he set his wrists, that went away. ‘There is a relationship between the direction of the club shaft and the plane of the club’, so that Hogan’s flat and rounded arm movement with a cupped wrist at the top, changed him from being ‘closed’ and ‘flat’ at the top to ‘open’ and ‘upright’.

You could teach the body-arm marriage even to a beginner very simply, feels Jacobs, as long as the set up is right. Simply tell them take to the right (trail) shoulder back and point the clubhead to the target at the top. Then all that might be left to factor in would be giving the left (lead) arm some width, because the left (lead) arm must be wide enough on the right (trail) side of the ball, for the golfer to be able to swing through.

There is naturally nothing wrong with what John Jacobs, and those other famous teachers who succeeded him say, because otherwise how could they have produced so many great golfers? The patterns they teach are usually simple and common-sense. And, it’s easy enough for a golfer’s brain to ‘figure it out’ to some extent, and repeat the motion often, especially when the golfer is relaxed. (See Jacobs’ own swing below, and the many compensations it’d require for him to arrive from the inside)

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What never fails to shock me, however, is that all the very best teachers simply teach in opposites – if you’re laid off, swing more around, if you’re too shallow, steepen up your swing, if you arrive from over-the-top do something-or-the-other blah blah to arrive from the inside. If you top the ball, swing down, if you chunk the ball swing over it more and on and on.

HOW, HOW, HOW? What must the body DO to facilitate whatever you tell the golfer to do? What do the various arm and leg segments DO because, please understand, they are linked when we grip a club with both hands or have both feet planted on the ground (when the furthest part of the arms or legs is not free to move independently, we call it a ‘closed kinetic chain’, and this can make the linked joints move in peculiar, non-normal patterns).

The problem, now that Jacobs’ ‘why’ is well understood, is that no-one asks ‘how’.

How to make sure the body rotates in a horizontal plane as the arms are required to move in a more vertical one simultaneously?

How does moving the right shoulder back affect where the body’s weight moves, and, in fact, how should weight shift – move towards target, stay centered, move to the trail side?

How does setting the wrists at the top (wrists can set in varying combinations of two directions) affect the positions of the trail shoulder and elbow, and will the correct combination of shaft direction and plane (adjusted for the individual) ensure that the swing arrives at the ball from the inside and at speed?

CAN a golfer arrive at impact in a BETTER STILL manner, MORE CONSISTENTLY and with LESS SCOPE FOR INJURY? These are 21st Century questions! HOW?

The time for ‘why’ is long past, and the modern golf instructor must move beyond the club to what the body CAN/CANNOT do, so as to be able to teach the golf swing across all body sizes and shapes, because the human body only has very fixed motion capabilities.

Tiger’s has chipping ‘yips’? Nonsense!

Tiger’s chipping ‘yips’ – Hello Golf World, you need some ‘Anatomy 101’!

The whole golf world is commenting on Tiger’s ‘yips’. A word I’d save only for neuro-musculo-skeletal issues. Such as when there is a physical twitch with the trail hand during the down-stroke.

Tiger has the chipping ‘yips’? Utter rubbish. It’s the fact that human muscles can only do certain things and move in specific directions and no-one in golf has bothered to understand that – all golf ‘fixers’ do is ‘work out’ to strengthen and stretch muscles at alternate joints and expect to wave a magic wand that makes everything problem disappear.

So here’s an explanation that even the least scientifically-educated of those who feel free to comment on the situation can understand.

Think of Tiger’s current issue as being one of someone in a ferris-wheel suddenly deciding he wants a merry-go-round ride. In Tiger’s case his ferris-wheel is a triple-whammy situation.

So what’s ‘ferris-wheel’ about it? His arms swing ‘out’, but the ball needs to be approached from the inside. His left side drops down, but his right side needs to be lower at impact. His right shoulder girdle is very elevated and needs to be down to release into the ground. And the through-swing does not have all day to ‘undo’ these movements.

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So, being such a great athlete, he realizes he’s coming down too steeply at the ball and makes a downswing compensation – rotating his right shoulder around, and thus making the right arm the radius of the swing, and ‘smothering’ the ball (the club does not connect with the inside right quadrant of the ball), giving it too much run. An attempt at jumping into a merry-go-round!

All he needs is less of a ferris-wheel backswing with respect to all the three factors described above. His motion involves trail arm abduction with flexion, trail shoulder-girdle elevation and lead lateral flexion use a bunch of muscles as prime movers (agonists), when some of them should be stabilizers and others should actually not be involved at all. It is vital, also, to position both lead and trail shoulder-girdles appropriately at the outset of the swing itself, so the club follows a similar path back and through in order for the awkward latissimus dorsi’s origin and insertion to not get separated in the wrong direction. For all those to whom this (intentionally obfuscating and confounding) paragraph was double dutch, how about some Anatomy 101? Just so you understand the situation based on what the body is and is not capable of doing before passing judgment?

What made a Mouse out of a Tiger?

The System that made a Mouse out of a Tiger

Where to begin? Full-swing or short game? Everything was so un-Tiger-like at the 2015 Phoenix Waste Management event. Under pressure, his full-swing simply went back to default mode based on what he’d been doing for the past few years.

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Imagine a mouse which has been in a rat trap for a long time. If the cage door is open, it does not simply run out of its cage. It looks around, sniffs around, and then might either bolt from the cage or run right back inside straight into its comfort zone. The mouse has no way of knowing what is in its best interests – freedom and perhaps a new set of survival problems, or the cage and lifelong captivity.

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The problem lies not with any of Tiger’s coaches or himself, he is still one of the greatest golfers ever. The problem lies with the entire ‘traditional’ golf swing system. ‘Traditional’ here meaning any backswing which involves a simultaneous horizontal rotation of the body and vertical movement of the arms; requires the lead side to drop down in the hip, knee and ankle and requires a lot of forward bend of the body to achieve the latter. These aspects are true of all swings being made today whether they are ‘traditional traditional’ or ‘stack and tilt traditional’.

Basically there is too much movement involved, in too many directions, which must happen all together. Whatever combination of moves the golfer tries to make results in a slightly different set of start-of-downswing compensatory moves, and herein lies the problem.

The golfer’s brain must decide which to accomplish first in the limited time span of the downswing – slide sideways to bring body weight into position; or drop the trail side down; or rotate? Then the brain must decide where the arms and wrists must be in relation to all that body motion. Under pressure, when muscles contract faster and more forcefully because of an increase in hormone levels, everything changes.

The ‘traditional’ golf swing requires the golfer’s brain to make too many choices. What is required is a movement of very limited choices, with most of them being accomplished before the backswing even begins, and one move leading to the next in a domino-effect so the brain has very little to control.

Simply put, why do more than needed? Why lift the trail side up only to drop it down? Why drop the lead side just to lift it up? And so many more ‘whys’.

Let’s take a look at what is actually needed for downswing success. The body (legs, hips, torso, shoulder girdle) produces the power and club speed, and the arms (shoulders, forearms and hands) control club path and face and thus direction. The only link in their roles, then, is the shoulder girdle. Where the shoulder-girdles face, there go the arms.

It is thus obvious that it is mainly the body’s position at any given time which can control both itself and the direction of motion of the arms. Why not position the body in advance  of the start of the backswing so that all that’s left is for the arms to move where they now have no choice but to move, and from where they cannot interfere in the role of the body?

All body parts should be set for their downswing role – of harnessing the by-now-famous ground-reaction-forces! Then all the arms have to do is move within a limited ‘channel’ which assures they will arrive at the ball from the inside and at the correct angle.

The ‘traditional’ golf swing must go  – and soon – before golf loses even more popularity than it already has, and before more and more leading athletes succumb to injury because of too many conflicting moves during the downswing.

The mouse will never run out of it’s cage when faced with the prospect of an unknown future, and thus the Tiger might never roar again.

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