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The Takeaway9 O'ClockGetting to the TopThe DownswingAt ImpactThe Follow-ThroughPro Shop

Before getting started, lets take a moment to understand what needs to happen. I personally believe that the Golf Swing is done within a 'Wedge'. Ben Hogan's book 'Five lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf', the term 'swing plane' was introduced. That plane he described was a line or Plane drawn from the top of the shoulders to the ball, something I like to call 'secondary plane'. Unfortunately, that's not quite correct, but very crucial to the answer.

Today, what is considered 'The Plane' or what I like to call 'Primary Plane' is the angle created by the shaft of the club at address. This angle is influenced by your height, the length of your arms & legs, as well as your posture. Put the two together and you have your 'Wedge'.

Now the object of the game is to bring the club to the top and back down to impact on the same path or somewhere within that wedge, so if your club and hands are within that wedge, your swing will be considered 'On Plane'. More on this a little later....

The 'Plane' that Hogan spoke of is everything. Don't forget, You don't hit the golf ball, the Club does. To swing "On plane" is the best way to insure proper contact, angle and direction that you will have on the ball.

Now let's get started....

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The importance of a good solid 'One-Piece' takeaway cannot be emphasized enough. The swing is literally a domino effect from the start, so a good 'Takeaway' will promote less compensation with more Consistency and Power.

What is deemed 'One-Piece' are the Clubhead, Hands and Shoulders. These three components must start the 'Takeaway' as ONE. Don't let your wrists pull or lift the club up, just have the clubhead, hands and shoulders move back as one.

Firm up the left side via the pressure points in the left hand and relax the right, take the club straight back in 'One-Piece' low to the ground, generating a good 'Extension'. Don't let the left arm collapse, keep it straight and close to the body. This will help to produce a good Shoulder Turn, proper Weight Transfer, nice Arc, which is the size of the circle the club makes going to the top of the swing, bigger is better, and will help keep the club 'On Plane'.

The key to generating Power is to create Torque between your Upper Body (Shoulder Turn), and your Lower Body (Hip Turn). The bigger the difference the greater the speed at which the clubhead will travel through Impact, resulting in distance. So when taking the club back, and through the backswing, keep your Hips nice and quiet and let them turn naturally keeping the Left or Front foot flat on the ground. This will reduce excess and unnecessary rotation, yet produce the best possible Torque between the two parts.

Now even if the front foot comes up that's OK, but it can lead to loss of torque and overswing so just keep that in mind.

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The first 3 feet are the most crucial. If the 'Takeaway' is solid you should be in perfect shape, at a position called 9 O'Clock.

THIS DOES NOT REFER TO THE POSITION OF THE HANDS BUT THE SHAFT OF THE CLUB. This is by far, one of Golf's biggest misconceptions. This IS the biggest flaw I correct in well over 95% of students, beginners to advanced alike and one of the major reasons why so many beginners seem to hit a rather large range of clubs the same distance, prompting them to say "... why should I hit my 4 or 5 iron when I hit my 7 iron the same distance." Notice how low and ever so slightly past the back foot my hands are when the shaft of the club is parallel to the ground...... not much.

At this point the wrists have started to hinge, thus setting the club, inturn keeping the hands low and left arm straight. To minimize unnecessary movement at the top of the swing and maximize consistency and power, I use my right hand to set my wrists.

The club should be parallel to the ground, and inline with your feet. The clubface should be square or slightly closed to the target line, left arm/shoulder, hands and clubhead inline with each other and your hands in front of your body.

At this point the importance of keeping your right or back leg flexed is Huge. In order to transfer your weight properly, that leg must stay flexed. To get away from losing that flex, try to feel like you're squatting through the back swing. This thought will help you transfer the weight to the back foot, and minimize 'Vertical' head movement, the reason for 'Fat' or 'Topped' shots. If you don't, you'll do the dreaded 'Reverse Pivot'.

The 'Reverse Pivot' happens when the back or right leg loses its flex and straightens out or what I like to call Midriff Syndrome happens. That's when your HEAD stays over the ball and your mid section moves side to side, in essence keeping the centre of your weight over the ball rather then over your back foot, creating a 'C' at the top of your swing, and a 'Reverse C' in the finish position.

This will invariably make you very unstable and falling backwards with all your weight on your back foot. All of which result in loss of power, accuracy and balance. To help stay away from this simply rotate your shoulders so the left shoulder is somewhere over your back foot, instant weight transfer with no Midriff collapse.

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(The following two sections show that, even though things are not perfect, the parts are within acceptable limits thus generating consistency and accuracy.)

From a good 9 O'Clock position, simply complete the hinging of the wrists and rotate the shoulders so your front or left shoulder is over the back hip, back foot area with your hands somewhere over your right shoulder with a good straight left arm. This will definitely have you rotating your shoulders and generating a nice arc. Remember the arc bigger is better.

Once at the top, think of carrying a tray with your right hand like a waiter, while pointing your right thumb towards your back ear. (again the opposite is true for left handed golfers.) This thought will help in setting your wrists correctly, hinged in the proper manner if you will, and help set the back of the left hand/forearm and clubface inline or parallel to each other at the top. The more they are, the better the chances of the shaft being parallel and not pointed across or away from the target line and foot alignment. Again, this is golf, so if it's slightly off, it's still workable.

Now here's that 'Wedge' I talked about earlier.......

As stated, if your club and hands are within that wedge, more specifically centre to upper half or 'Secondary Plane' for your hands, centre to lower or 'Primary Plane' for the clubhead, your swing will be considered 'On Plane'. Ideally, at the top of the swing, the line drawn from the butt-end of the club down through your left shoulder should be parallel to the 'Primary Plane', placing your hands right in the middle of the 'Wedge'. For some, like Jack Nicklaus, Fred Couples, yours truly, the hands are slightly higher, and others like Ben Hogan, David Duval and Sergio Garcia on centre or slightly lower. Just as long as you start things in sequence coming down, you should be able to get things on track.

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Now let's have a better look at that 'Wedge' and how the shaft & clubhead relate to the 'Primary Plane'.

Once at the top, the object of the game is to get the clubhead back on the 'Primary Plane' or 'On Plane' as soon as possible. So one of the first moves that should be done in my opinion, is a gentle 'Slide' torwards the target then a quick 'Push Off'/'Pull Down' motion with the back foot and hands. Nick Price and Sergio Garcia, just to name two, do this quite noticeably.

To start transferring the weight from back to front, start by 'Sliding' ever so slightly towards the target first, then quickly 'Pushing Off' with your back foot, starting the uncoiling process from the ground up not the hands down, just like a baseball pitcher does when delivering a pitch. The hard part is not to let the 'Gentle Slide' turn into a 'Hard Sway'............ BEWARE!!!!

If done properly, your hips will start to clear first, enabling your hands to drop or 'Pull Down' the club getting it 'Slotted' and 'On Plane'. Let me rephrase that... time and evolution kinda works that way..... enabling your hands to maintain their position and stay nice and quiet and 'Slotted', ready to catch up to your hips with your shoulders leading the way. All of this to bring the club up and down on the same line, which is exactly what one needs to do to be consistent and accurate.... how's that for a 'rephrase' for yaa!

You should feel the back of the left hand/forearm and the butt-end of the club all inline with the ball. In essence, feel like you're throwing the butt-end of the club at the ball from the start of your downswing. The only way you can achieve this is if your hips clear out first, as they should, thus placing the shaft of the club 'Parallel' to the 'Primary Plane'. If not, simply start the downswing by thrusting the back knee towards the front knee by pushing off with the back foot. This should aid in getting things going in sequence and keep the club slotted. Remember, you start uncoiling from the 'Ground Up' not from the 'Hands Down'.

Note the word 'Parallel', (as stated before, the following sequence shows that things are not perfect,..... geez you're telling me....... nonetheless, within Acceptable limits), the closer the clubhead is to that 'Primary Plane' coming down, the better. But this is Golf, so if the clubhead isn't quite on that 'Primary Plane' don't worry, just as long as the clubhead stays below the Centre Line of the wedge, things should be OK. Ideally, your hands throughout the Downswing should be ON or slightly BELOW the centre line placing the clubhead ................................. 'On Plane'. Ideally!!!

Now, if the 'Clubhead' crosses over the centre line, let alone the wedge, you'll be coming 'Over the Top' and hitting the ball with an 'outside to inside' swing path, resulting in a left to right (fade/slice) or a straight left (pulled) shot. The path itself is good if done properly with intent, but for many, it's a loss of distance and accuracy. The more you go over, the worse it gets. So really it's a combination of being 'On Plane', and 'Parallel' to the 'Primary Plane' throughout the Backswing and Downswing.

This is not easily done without hitting hundreds of golf balls several days a week with proper instruction/supervision, but Ernie 'The Big Easy' Els, is just one of many that does this beautifully.

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Assuming that everything is in a relatively good position, the goal at impact is to transfer the weight from the back foot through to the front foot, keeping the head behind the ball and having everything inline at impact. What I mean by 'inline' are the clubhead, the V's of both hands, left or front leg, arm and shoulder. This is best seen when swinging a Driver.

What happens a lot of the times, is that the golfer tends to twist 'around and away' through impact, pulling the club across the ball and 'away' from the target, like when you bait a fish, resulting in a fade or slice and falling back onto the back foot. What I tell students is to try and keep the heal of the right or back foot closer to the ground through the downswing and impact zone. Like pushing off of the back foot like a baseball pitcher does when delivering a pitch. This will help you move 'through and up' not 'around and away' as well as transfer the weight through to a nice tall upright finish.

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What you want to have happen during the Follow-Through is a sense of 'chasing' the ball down the target line. This is really going to help you get your weight through the shot or 'through and up' not 'around and away'.

An easy drill is at address, with a ball in place, simply set yourself up as you would normally, then start rotating or clearing your hips out of the way while pushing off with the back foot, moving ever so slightly towards or 'through' the target. This will set you up pretty much like you should be at impact. Notice how everything lines up with the front leg & shoulder... that's the apex, in this case the lowest part of the swing, hence the 'constant ball position for every club' method.

Let the clearing of the hips and pushing-off of the back foot help you move the ball with the clubhead towards the target. In essence, don't start moving the ball until the clearing and pushing make you. Follow-through to a full finish 'up' and over your front foot, letting your back foot roll over onto the toes and your belt buckle facing the target with all or most of your weight over your front foot.

This drill will help you feel how the weight transfers from your back foot to your front foot, what your hips are doing through impact, and help you get to a nice tall and balanced finish over your front foot. If you're in the habit of moving backwards or 'around and away' after you hit the ball, you'll notice the difference right away.

Hey, with all that said, all you have to do is have that club twirl as it slides down through your hand, and stare it down............. just like the pros.

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