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More Distance? It’s a Stretch

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Article by George Connor, PGA Professional & Two-Time CT Teacher of the Year –

Make a big turn in the back swing to hit it far.You hear that all the time.  As we get going into another season let’s change the goal of the back swing.  Rather than trying to make the biggest turn possible, make the goal to gather and store as much potential power as possible.  There is a significant difference.

A muscle can do one of three things. It can relax, it can stretch or it can contract.  The more a muscle is stretched, the faster it can contract.   In simple terms, think of muscles contracting to deliver a lot of club head speed just like an elastic band.  The more you stretch it the faster it will shorten (contract).  With this in mind; turning everything, head, chest, hips and knees way into the backswing will yes provide a lot of turn but will not store any energy as nothing is being stretched.  In addition to no stored energy, I see golfers in this mindset getting so far out of position that solid contact becomes nearly impossible.  Let’s make your back swing as efficient as possible, rather than as complicated as possible.

n order to create power I like to have my golfers have some stability in the knees while they stretch the upper body into the backswing.  By stable knees, I mean that the trail knee (right knee for a right-handed golfer) stays over the trail foot rather than drifting away from the target.  The lead knee will always move some in a full swing but lets prevent it from moving behind the golf ball during the back swing.  If the knees stay relatively quiet while the trail shoulder stretches away from the lead shoulder we are creating that rubber band like effect.  The hips will turn but we are not necessarily trying to turn the hips as much as possible.  The stable knees keep us in position or what I like to refer to as “aimed at the ball throughout the swing.”  Staying in position will absolve you from having to find the ball in the midst of the forward swing.  

When the lead shoulder stretches away you are using the same powerful motion as athletes do in other sports.  A quarterback in football stretches his chest early in the throwing motion just as a pitcher in baseball will have his non-throwing arm as far away from the throwing arm as possible early in the delivery stage of throwing.  This will allow for more speed, more power in the throw AND in your golf swing (see video).

Lastly, while that upper body is stretching, I like to have the golfer feel that the back foot is being pushed or driven down into the ground, but we will talk about that more in future issues.

George Connor has been teaching and coaching golfers of all abilities since 1989. The two-time Connecticut PGA Teacher of the Year is based at Farmington Woods GC in Avon, CT. George’s student’s include Division 1 College Players, Professional Players, State Amateur Champions, Club Champions as well as beginners and intermediate players.