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.



[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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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:]

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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]

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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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                                                                                                       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:

John Jacobs was put on the map of golf instructors’ for bringing a vital perspective to teaching the golf swing. In his own words, “… 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.

What is the Purpose of the Backswing in Golf?

What is the Purpose of the BACKSWING in golf?

Collective comments of golfers from 3 facebook groups:

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A scientific response to this poll:

It is scary that we, as a group of golfers and golf instructors do not reach consensus, and really do not know the purpose of the backswing in golf. Responses were so diverse that even after an attempt to group similar ones together there were too many.

It is important for all golfers, but especially for instructors to understand what the terms energy (potential, kinetic), power, momentum, torque, leverage actually mean.

PP in bold stands for POINT to PONDER so that the reader may re-consider the purpose of the backswing with regard to a specific topic.

Basically, OF COURSE the full-swing backswing is designed to put a golfer into ‘position’ (what a cop-out to merely say that!). BUT FOR WHAT exactly (other than ‘for the downswing’ – another ‘cop out’!). Specifically for the downswing to deliver the club for straight direction and maximum distance, MAINLY BY achieving the most important of the ball flight laws – the INSIDE PATH.

You might interject, “So the path will help with direction but what about club speed?”

ONE – and ONLY ONE – downswing body SEQUENCE, is capable of SIMULTANEOUSLY generating both inside an path AND maximal club speed (see this reference to learn more:

That is one with a proximal (lower body) to distal (upper body, arms and finally club) body motion pattern. ONLY this sequence can give a golfer both straight distance and maximum possible direction.

Note that this correct ground-up sequence is able to harness external forces better (ground reaction force, mainly), so that less muscle-force is required to be generated by the golfer.

PP1: So, WHICH body/arm POSITIONs of the backswing are ‘PROPER’ for the production of a good downswing SEQUENCE?

PP2: If the purpose of the backswing is to store ‘POTENTIAL ENERGY’ (PE), what precisely is potential energy? PE can be of several types – ‘gravitational potential energy’ (GPE), and ‘elastic/strain energy’ (SE) amongst others. GPE is the energy stored in an object by virtue of it’s position (away from the Earth’s center), so that an object placed at a height of 5’ has more GPE than one placed at 3’ from the ground. The height of the hands above the ground is an indication of stored GPE. Similarly if the body is fully ‘wound’ it just might have the ability to ‘unwind’ and release the SE it has stored.

Look at the orange-and-stick experiment below to understand useful and meaningless GPE. Past about 10 o’clock in the backswing, GPE is stored so the orange can only fall off the stick in a USELESS direction. In other words, WORK must first be done against gravity to bring the club to a position of USEFUL (ie in a targetward direction) GPE.

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‘Coil’, ‘rotation’, ‘torque’ are all words used (sometimes inappropriately) to describe rotary or twisting motions, which are believed to store SE via muscle stretch. However, here, a meaningful direction of ‘unstoring’ is on a horizontal plane, which also harnesses the horizontal element of ground reaction force. So that unless there is a purely horizontal element to backswing rotation, downswing ‘unstoring’ (as in the typical golf swing) will be in a downward (towards the ground) direction.

Try this drill to understand why the typical golf backswing is not a true coil. Stand upright, with the feet slightly apart and the arms by your sides. Now twist everything from the ankles to the head (yes the eyes too). THAT is a twist, around an imaginary vertical axis, just like the top on the left, in the picture below. Now put your hands on your hips and side-bend to your left. Then ‘rotate’. What you’re doing (as in the typical golf swing) is really mostly a side-bend -not a pure twist – followed by an ‘un-sidebend’ – NOT a rotation/coil for storage of useful elastic energy. More like the top on the right.

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PP3: Loading. This term strictly means adding a resistance or weight. Muscles do not load, they only create tension. Weight-shift could be considered adding weight to the trail side, and is useful only if ‘un-load’ happens in the correct kinematic sequence, ie proximal to distal or lower body before upper body. In other words, the ‘loading’ is quite useless for all those who come over-the-top (often as a direct result of the loading process itself!)

PP4: Momentum. This term, in physics, means ‘quantity of motion’. It is a product of the mass of an object and its velocity. As velocity changes with the direction of motion, the momentum of the golf club is zero at the top of the backswing, and must be recreated during the downswing, so momentum is not an appropriate term to use here. For the same reason, neither are velocity or acceleration.

PP5: Creating time/space for acceleration to take place. In many sports a person is told to increase the length of their swing/motion so as to give themselves a greater distance over which to accelerate. To my mind it means exactly the same as telling someone that driving from New York to California will allow them to accelerate more than merely driving to New Jersey! If distance increases without time reducing, velocity and thus acceleration do not automatically increase. Moreover, in the case of human muscle, can muscles hold their forceful contractions as efficiently over longer distances? After all, it is well-known that muscle force and velocity are inversely related.

PP6: Leverage. A wider arc creates a longer lever so that more force can be created with less effort. Yet, when a golf swing goes ‘on-and-on’ with a lot of wrist ‘cock’, where is the wide arc? Merely having a wide arc at the start of the backswing but narrowing it down considerably by bending the trail elbow and wrist no longer count as ‘wide’.

So, what then, IS the purpose of the backswing, if nothing above can be converted to useful positions or forces (to give both distance AND direction) during the downswing? I have no idea!

I only know the purpose of the Minimalist Golf Swing’s backswing – to place all the body’s joints into positions that harness maximal external force, thus reducing the effort required by the golfer’s muscles; and for an inside path. To me, most other backswings make no sense in science!

The Minimalist Golf Swing System, 2015

Happy New Year to all visitors to this blog, and to all users of the Minimalist Golf Swing System.

Over 3 years spend completing a Masters in Sports Science helped to solidify concepts of how the body is designed and thus how best to harness its natural capabilities.

Now, a single term in a PhD in Biomechanics has only served to validate previously developed patterns for the MGSS.

The movements taught over the past 3-4 years have been correct, only I never quite knew how to get the positions right for any and every individual.

Three weeks spent working with my oldest student and dear friend (a leading pulmonary physician of India), have helped to consolidate all the tiny missing links, because there is nothing as useful as feedback from someone who has internalized a system and understands the repercussions of making correct as well as wrong moves.

So, ofcourse any regular visitor to this blog knows that the MGSS requires

a) A pre-swing rotation of the entire spine (including the big mass of the pelvis)                       b) The arms to be the only moving parts from address to the ‘top’                                               c) The angles of the trunk and head to be maintained from address to impact

Here’s the latest information for 2015:

1. If the body forward-bending posture and front-to-back weight distribution are ideal, the pre-swing ‘turn’ is very easy

2. If the pre-swing head position is correct, the body maintains its required angles during the swing

3. If both the pre-swing turn and the head positions are correct, the arms movement is effortlessly fluid and on the correct ‘plane’, and the right (trail) side – ear, shoulder, elbow, wrist and waist – is always lower than its corresponding part of the left (lead) side.

IF you are a serious student of golf and wish to use the MGSS to improve either your full-swing or short-game, the ONLY way to do so is with in-person lessons.

There are no other teachers of this system and no availability of lessons on-line.

See some pictures below and decide whether they’re MGSS or not:

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Tiger Woods and his Swing Coaches

Tiger Woods and his Swing Coaches


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As any undergraduate course on the subject will explain, the purpose of studying sports biomechanics is three-fold:

  1. To understand the mechanism of injury of sports movements, and then rectify the cause (by either reducing any loads which are beyond the ability of various body-tissue to tolerate, or by improving the endurance of said tissue)
  1. To maximize efficiency by having greater economy of motion
  1. To maximize performance by more efficient positioning of body parts

How should a good biomechanical approach be applied to Tiger Woods’ swing, which currently needs to have greater efficiency AND less potential for causing injury?

A general description of what the above three aspects mean with respect to golf is followed by Tiger’s particular problems, below:


Firstly, improving the ‘endurance’ of body-tissue is not enough, especially because some tissues with less blood-supply are less amenable to, and do not benefit from, training. After all, most golf-fitness programs work at trying to reduce the scope for injury and simultaneously to improve performance. They are based on strengthening those body parts (muscles) which produce power-speed and stretching other body parts which need greater flexibility (once again mostly muscle). HOWEVER these programs are all flawed because they are based on the swing-mechanics of the best players in the world – which are themselves flawed.

Fitness programs should be based on an ‘ideal’ golf swing, which should be one devised from ‘first-principles’; working backwards from the laws of physics and biomechanics which govern ‘ideal’ impact (ie. arriving at the ball from an inside, shallow path at maximum speed).

Fitness programs should NOT be based on what is traditionally considered to be a ‘good’ swing, because all traditional ideas have evolved from the SUBJECTIVE, NOT SCIENTIFIC, thinking of leading players and teachers.

Injury mechanism should purely be assessed by looking (from a rear view) at a golfer’s top-of-backswing position and then at his impact, and just-past-impact body positions. When doing this one can count how many of the following joints change their direction of motion from the top of the backswing to the start of the downswing:

Cervical spine, rest-of-the-spine, trail shoulder, trail elbow, trail forearm, trail wrist, lead shoulder, lead hip, lead knee, lead ankle.

If a golfer’s change-of-direction (mainly because the golfer accelerates at maximum speed during the downswing) requires very many of these joints to be repositioned during the LIMITED TIME SPAN of the downswing, the golfer can only be successful as long as his rhythm remains smooth. It is known that in an aroused state (ie. one of anxiety) such as that seen during competition, the fight-or-flight response kicks in, and the hormones secreted as a result make the muscles contract faster and more forcefully, so that with the best will in the world a golfer cannot help but slightly mis-time body-movement sequences, resulting in unreliable results. Similar mis-timing takes place under conditions of fatigue, when the brain cannot handle many complex movement patterns regardless of how often the patterns have been repeated in practice. (For example do you walk or talk as efficiently when exhausted?).


The very same extra-movements-in-a-short-time-span which cause injury also cause inefficiency, and not only under conditions of arousal or fatigue. If two people who can run equally fast were to be in a race, and one of them took a few steps backwards before running towards the finish-line, the other one, leaning forward and running in a straight line towards the finish would surely win. EXTRA movements which require to be undone before the joints are in position for their roles in the downswing, waste time and increase the potential for inefficiency.

For instance, when the right side/trunk (of a right-handed golfer) is lower than the left at both address and at impact (simply because the right hand is placed lower than the left!), what earthly sense does it make for the right shoulder to be higher at the top of the backswing? Contact is never as pure as when the right trunk/side stays lower than the left throughout the backswing. Besides that, the great concept of ‘ground reaction force’ (GRF) which is being made so much of these days, has to be ‘artificially’ increased! This can be seen in the work of some coaches, who encourage their students to squat down then jump up to increase GRF. GRF is optimized when the left arm is able to be fully extended as the radius of the swing. However, many golfers are unable to drop the right side of the body down AND straighten the lead arm, IN TIME FOR impact.


In the full-swing in golf, maximizing performance means hitting the ball as far as possible, in a straight direction, and with ideal trajectory for the club being used. There are only 3 biomechanically proven ways to increase distance – the stretch-shorten cycle (recently proven controversial), ground reaction force, and a sequential summation of forces. Of the three, the latter is also responsible for straight direction, and simply requires the lower body to rotate before the upper, allowing the arms and club to be the last things arriving at the club, so that each successive moving body-part adds to the forces generated by the previous one.



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  • All his recent coaches have supposedly worked on reducing his distance to control his direction, yet made his swing more violent! They have reduced his distance yet not improved his directional control – how ironic!
  • The latest coach has erroneously reduced the length of his backswing and made it more compact. When the backswing is reduced too much, so that the club and hands are not even at around 10 o’clock (in THIS BLOG 10 o’clock means without any wrist-bend) – their position of maximum gravitational potential energy, the body has to exert force to start the downswing, rather than it beginning with the force of gravity alone. This force throws off the correct sequence of the downswing
  • The swing coaches have also made his swing increasingly more compact (as seen by an increasingly more flexed/bent trail elbow and excessively flexed lead hip, knee and ankle), which means all the OTHER joints which have made movements surplus-to-requirement now have to unbend and untwist within a very narrow space. A ‘wide’ trail elbow creates a longer lever for more power, and also has to straighten out less when arriving at the ball!
  • According to a former coach, Hank Haney, Tiger himself has always believed that the squat-jump gives him greater power-speed. Yet, common sense tells us that to jump up and down in an essentially back-and-through movement is absurd. Do baseball pitchers jump up and down on the mound in order to throw the ball forwards faster? In slightly more technical terms, if one intends to put ‘x’ amount of force into an object, then makes a glancing blow – instead of a full-on one – at the object, one only puts a portion of intended force into the object, and the rest into the ground or the air around the ball!

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  • He has been overloaded with ideas of across-the-line, laid-off, swing plane, palm-vs-finger grip etc. etc. ALL club movements are merely the result of body-joint movements – after all, the club does not move itself! THEREFORE the entire concept of swing-plane is redundant. The ONLY requirement is for the club to arrive at the ball from a slightly inside path (to connect the right-inside quadrant of the ball), and this becomes a non-issue if the lead upper-arm maintains a similar, slightly-inside path, during both back- and through-swings
  • Those of his former coaches who believed ‘rotation’ to be an important element of power-creation gave him a ‘lateral flexion’ instead! A TRUE body-rotation during the downswing can only come from a similar movement during the backswing, which in turn requires not only trunk, BUT ALSO HIP, rotation.
  • His fitness coaches have bulked up his upper-arms and chest (some sports chiropractors term this ‘mattressing’!). This prevents his arms from swinging freely during the backswing and prevents his having an ‘ectomorph’ body type, ideal for golfers as it provides long, slim, wiry-strong limbs, which have better leverage and less ‘inertia’.


  1. Reduce injury potential by placing all joints – at the top of the backswing – IN POSITION for their role in the downswing, so that no re-routing is required before target-ward motion can begin
  2. Maximize swing efficiency by minimizing the numbers of joints moved, and minimizing their directions (planes) of movement
  3. Maximize swing performance (maximum distance, straight direction and ideal trajectory) by ensuring a without-volition downswing summation-of-forces

IT ACHIEVES these ends by

  1. Being the only swing in the world which creates TRUE rotation of the spine AND hips for more power
  2. Separating the roles of the body and arms, as the former requires to move in a merry-go-round or horizontal plane and the latter in a more ferris-wheel or frontal plane, and when combined result in less efficiency
  3. Cutting out all extra movement so that contact with the ball is much purer and no effort is wasted in connecting with the ground or air around the ball
  4. Always positioning the club so that it arrives at the ball – WITHOUT VOLITION – from the inside, at a shallow angle and with maximum speed

In CONCLUSION, a 21st Century golf coach MUST have academic-based, in-depth knowledge of anatomy, rehabilitation and biomechanics (preferably also exercise physiology and exercise testing-and-prescription) in order to coach top athletes. The causation – or at least exacerbation – of several of Tiger Woods’ injuries can be linked to specific unscientific-in-anatomy movements he has been taught over the years.

See the ‘about’ section of this blog to understand the type of credentials required.


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