US Women's Open 2014 - Day 1
Comments on the ANATOMY of this and that....
Had the honor of speaking with Dr Tom Boers, physiotherapist to the LPGA and PGA Tours. A wonderful quotable quote from him, "The golf swing should be designed around the spine, not the spine around the golf swing". If only more people in golf understood that.
He has worked with very many injured golfers' backs, including that of Suzann Pettersen. Scroll down to the previous post to see the video analysis of the anatomy of her swing and understand what might have exacerbated her disc irritation a few months ago. Also, a golfer's standing posture is rarely analyzed in golf, look at hers below:
Then there is the question of swing efficiency. It seems to be very popular (and this is true for all skill-levels of golfers, all over the world) to make long back- and through-swings for small 'chip' shots. Did these originate from the 'dog must wag the tail' phrase, requiring shoulder involvement even for short shots such as chipping? Did it originate from people believing the wrists are essential for all shots [see the note at the end of this post regarding wrist involvement]? Whatever its antecedents, the 'modern' chip shot involves too many joints being bent/twisted during the backswing for there ever to be enough time to undo it all, in this tiniest of swings.
Look at this big dog. If he had a tiny fly sitting at the end of his tail, should he 'wag' his entire body to get rid of it? Would simply wagging his tail not be sufficient? That would be the equivalent to a chip shot being made with the arms acting as two sticks, with no in-swing knee bending, no hip rotation and no shoulder rotation. A simple pendulum-like motion (with a shallower arc than a true pendulum would have), picking the ball off the ground with no dramatic divots.
Look at the size of back- and down-swings of this golfer making a small shot from 15 yards off the green, with 5 yards of green to the pin, OFF an UPHILL LIE! Do not all professional golfers attend 'Chipping 101', the basic class that tells one not to have a big arc of swing from an uphill lie, as it reduces the margin within which they can err?
In the above situation, the golfer has to undo all of: 1. neck forward flexion 2. left arm adduction (the ideal lead-arm movement should be more like a flexion - post a question in the forum here if interested in how/why) 3. right shoulder elevation 4. right shoulder internal rotation 5. right wrist extension (backward bending) 6. left trunk lateral flexion
Another golfer made 6-7 practice shots from the same position with a highly lofted club which had lots of bounce, and brushed the grass at different spots each time, to get the feel of what to do. Better sense finally prevailed and she chose to go with her putter. However, even then she made a long swing arc back and through, with the putter-head moving steeply up then down and then up again. Both chip and pitch shots should have a low, shallow arc, especially on an uphill lie, to increase the margin within which to err!
As regards bunker shots. See this green-side bunker top-of-backswing and past-impact positions. At the top there has been wrist bend, right elbow bend, left trunk bend and a lot of spinal rotation - different at each of the spinal levels - the cervical or neck region has remained in place, and the thoracic spine (where the ribs are) has rotated. The lumbar and sacral areas (hip area) are probably being kept in place, if the amount of knee flexion is any indication (players are often told to have a 'solid base').
In the downswing she chokes - as can be seen by her hands, which stop moving during early and late follow-through. Her brain probably makes hers arms decelerate in reaction to feeling either that there will be more-than-required acceleration from the body's involvement OR that as her shoulders spin open, over-the-top, the club will come too close to the ball (not stay behind the ball as would be the case with an 'inside' approach). Another reason for the cessation of her hand and arm movement could be that her head turns during early follow-through.
The Minimalist Golf Swing System works not only for the full-swing, but has excellent heaven-sent solutions for the basic pitch, chip and putt strokes too. [An example of MGSS simplicity - create any steepness required for a slightly high chip shot or what might be termed a pitch-and-run shot, from elbow, NOT wrist, bend, as there is more time for the trail elbow to straighten than for the trail wrist to do so].