When talking about the mechanics of the golf swing, what I am really trying to do is simplify the process of hitting a golf ball. With the couple of lessons that I have taken in my lifetime, the instructors talked lots about hand position, locked arms and wrists, and a couple of other biomechanical positions that did not come naturally to my body.
Having a B.A. in Kinesiology (the study of human movement), the unnaturalness of the process never made sense to me. When the body is aligned and centered the process of swinging a club and hitting the ball should come easily. However, if you have been struggling in mastering the mechanics of the swing, letting go of what you either know or assume can be very complicated. This is where breathing comes in. By making the breath the focus of movement you can short-circuit the thinking process of the swing and let the body move in the manner to which it was designed.
This is why centering is so important to the game of golf. When you’re centered, your core muscles are actively engaged and ready to create movement. In preparation for finishing the mechanics of a centered golf swing, let’s take a quick look at core alignment and activation when addressing the ball.
Establishing the “V”
When standing centered at address, if you move from the belly button outward towards each shoulder you have a “V.” The raised diaphragm squares and drops the shoulders while engaging the core muscles. If you are truly moving from center you should be able to maintain your “V” at all times. Any movement that distorts or breaks your “V” is considered to be outside of center. The goal during any activity is to monitor and protect your “V” at all times.
Standing at address in the centered position, take a couple centered breaths while relaxing your body. Initiate your back swing by turning your back shoulder slowly so that your “V” remains intact at all times. Ideally you’ll rotate until your front shoulder is directly under your chin.
Understanding your flexibility in rotation is essential here. Anytime you rotate too far, your “V” will collapse and your head will move off of the ball. When this happens you change your contact point, causing the club face to be less then centered when it contacts the ball, causing a misdirected shot.
If you have maintained your center throughout the back swing you should be able to pause at the top of the swing and take an open flowing breath. If at the top of your backswing your breath is limited you have either rotated too far, so you’re now out of center, or you have over tightened muscles in anticipation of hitting the ball.
If you are finding it difficult to relax your body during the backswing, return to addressing the ball and take several centered breaths. Practice rotating into your backswing and relaxing the body until you can easily hold the back swing and take open flowing breathes.
Having completed the backswing, you should be centered with your front shoulder under your chin and your head directly over the ball. Being centered you should be able to hold this position comfortably.
To initiate the down stroke, pull the front shoulder back, rotating around the axis of your spine. (You should be able to maintain your “V” throughout contacting the ball) Keep your head over and your eyes on the ball so that you can actually see your club make contact with the ball.
The rotation that pulls your club through the hitting zone will cause your hips to rotate so that your weight shifts over your front leg with a balanced and centered stance. Your navel will be pointed at your target as you hold your follow through with your head up and eyes on the ball.
The way I have described the swing here makes the most sense to me not only biomechanically, but also as an organic movement. As I continue to experiment and practice, I might offer suggestions and ideas on further modifications. Until then, I suggest you play with the ideas I have shared here, making adjustments based on your individual strengths and weaknesses.