February 2011 Newsletter:  The Role of the Hands in the Golf Swing.

Good golf swings can be effective with a variety of different looking backswings and positions of the body.
Yet, there are only three common denominators shared by all good golf swings.  One is the proper sequence of
the muscle movement in the swing (the kinematic sequence), another is the path (plane) of the club head as it
enters the impact zone, and the final one is the way the hands work in the swing.  In this newsletter, I will focus on
the hands.

In the photo sequence below, Annika Sorenstam, one of the greatest woman players of all time,
exhibits perfect use of her hands in the downswing.
Study the frames of Annika's downswing.  At the top of her back swing she has established a hinge at the base of
her left thumb.  This hinge is creating an angle between her firm left arm and the club shaft.  As she advances
her downswing and moves her arms down to hip high (frame three) she has maintained that angle...and in fact
the angle has actually deepened.   I want you to also notice that the back of Annika's left arm and hand have
remained flat.  She has not "cupped" or flipped her hands into the impact area.   She has merely rotated her left
forearm to square the face.
TIP:  One of the great paradoxes in the golf swing is that it is almost impossible to consciously think about what
your hands are doing on the downswing.  The downswing lasts less than a second and if you think about
delaying your hands you will probably miss hit the ball or actually slow down your swing.  There is a correct way
to learn to delay your wrists until the bottom of your swing.   Please examine the keys and tips that follow.
The Secret to getting a great hand action is found in the following two keys:

1.  Proper Grip.  You must be able to use light grip pressure to let the weight of the clubhead hinge the wrist at
the top of the back swing.   The most important aspect of the grip is the proper position of the Palm Pad of your
left hand.  It must be on top of the grip to secure it.  Please study the two photos below.
On the left you will see the correct position of the palm pad on top of the grip.   On the right you will see an
incorrect position where the clubs grip is resting between the palm pad and the thumb pad.
After I complete my grip by wrapping my fingers around the club, a correctly placed palm pad will result in a
secure position at the top of my back swing (picture on the left below) and I will not have to use much pressure
in the left hand to keep the club secure.   The position on the right below shows the club coming apart from my
hand and this is will feel very insecure, hence I will need more pressure with both hands to secure the club.   
You want to secure the club at the top of the back swing with as little pressure as possible.
2.  Keep the hands "quiet" as your start the downswing.
For the vast majority of golfers, active hands at the beginning of the downswing are a disaster.  Adding power with
your hands requires a basic understanding of a law in Physics called:
Conservation of Angular Momentum.  The law
states that:  "If an object (club head) is brought closer to the rotating axis (your cervical spine) it speeds up.  If the
object is moved further out, it slows down."   Think about a figure skater as they spin and move their hands and
arms in to the body, they speed up.   A golfer who throws the club head out toward the ball at the beginning of the
downswing is actually slowing the club down.   Take another look at Annika's downswing pictures, do you see her
club head staying close to center of her rotating axis as she starts the downswing in frame two?  If I had a view from
above her looking straight down, you would see the club head falling behind her back as she starts down instead of
out in front of her right shoulder.

Great hand action is actually learning to not use your hands at the beginning of the downswing.  Let your downswing
begin from the ground up, with a shift of your weight and a turn of your hips, the hands will just drop down into a
power slot.
TIP:  Practice in front of a mirror.   Work on your grip.  Work on the correct hinge position at the top of the back
swing.  Feel the retention of the angle.   Repeat it over and over.
This is good grip to copy.
Notice my hands a opposed to each
other.  Almost in a prayer position.
This allow my hands to work as a unit.
TIP:  The amount of strength you have in your hands
and forearms will determine how much of a delay of the
wrist angle you can accomplish on the downswing.  If you
are not very strong you will not be able to square the face
at impact if you try to delay the release too long into the
downswing....hence your face will stay open and the ball
will go off to the right.  Practice rotating the left forearm to
square the face at impact.  You will get a sense of how
fast you need to do this to hit it straight.
TIP:  A great way to feel a late hand release is to use the "swish drill."  Take your driver and turn it upside down.  
Grip the club just below the club head and swing the grip end.  Aim a foot above the ground and swing until you
get a "Swoosh" sound.   You have to maintain light grip pressure to get this sound.   Very important, try to get the
swoosh sound as late as possible in the downswing....if you can....get it past the bottom of your swing.
Fast Hands vs Slow Hands.  It is not a coincidence that Domenic Mazza, the 16 year old who came in second in
the 2010 World Long Drive Championship can pitch the baseball almost 90 mph.  He has been blessed with Fast
Hands, or what Sports Biomechanists call "Fast Twitch Muscle Speed."  This is something you are born with.
If you have slow hands, thank god you were not a gun slinger in the old west.  What I want you all to do is learn to
maximize your own efficient personal hand speed in your golf swing.   Take heart, I will take a great short game
over an out of control fast hands player every day.