June 17th, 2014

Anatomy of new Golf Swing Trends from US Open 2014, Pinehurst No. 2

Anatomy of new Golf Swing Trends from US Open 2014, Pinehurst No. 2

The new trends that all the pros seem to be following are:

1. Full swing: a big spine forward flexion and a steep lead shoulder tilt during backswing and an equally steep shoulder tilt during downswing.

The result? A huge, deep divot.(see Martin Kaymer below)

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Effect of ball-striking efficiency - with such a deep divot, a lot of the intended power goes into the ground - a simple vector summation of forces drawing will show that. Its great when the players are young and supremely athletic and they have so much force production to spare that they do not even realize that they could get much more distance with a shallower divot.

However, the main problem is direction. The 'upright pendulum' which seems to be the latest version of the golf swing,  means that there is a very narrow margin within which direction can be good. Also, as the club rides inside such a deep divot, it could be prone to being twisted in the hands, as it digs through a large quantity of our planet!

All this excessive effort for not enough result probably comes from the new concept of making a squat-jump type move during the downswing to enhance ground-reaction-force (GRF). As the lead upper body 'jumps up', it apparently allows the golfer to decelerate correctly. No-one, however, has quantified how much 'jumping-up' to create GRF is optimal. The Minimalist Golf Swing creates 'just enough' GRF, by not requiring any up-and-down motion, but simply from the natural straightening of the trail arm! Does the full-swing need, and can it afford, all this excessive movement?

2. Chipping: What a big back-and-through motion (see Rory McIlroy below). Why are chip shots involving so much shoulder rock, ever since some famous pro told the world 'The dog must wag the tail". All it needs is an arms back-and-through movement, a much lower clubhead trajectory in both directions, and a ball which has the bare minimum air-time for it to just carry the lip of the green, then roll, like a putt (the simplest, least error-prone stroke) the rest of the way home. With a lower trajectory, the extra joint-movements of the shoulders gets reduced, and intentional shoulder-movement is a much more complex movement than that of just the arms.

Does the chip shot need, and can it afford, all this excessive movement? [And, on that subject, did Martin Kaymer win because he always used his putter from off the green, making a much simpler stroke?]

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3. Putting: Open shoulders and a right (trail)-arm-back-and-through movement (see Martin Kaymer below). This makes both elbows bend to differing amounts during back-and-through swings and differing amounts of shoulder rotation too, resulting in inconsistency. Does the putting stroke need, and can it afford, all this movement?

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Consider the human joints, folks, they are sadly (so far) not designed to move in all directions with equal ease, and require everything that's done to them during the backswing to be un-done - in correct sequence - in the fraction of a second that the downswing lasts!

(All pics from NBC Sports live streaming)

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