This is the second part of a four part series, where Philadelphia Section PGA teaching pro- John Carpineta a.k.a. Johnny ‘C’ offers some new perspective on the lifelong journey of solving Golf’s dilemnas. In the first article from 2011, Johnny looked at priceless dialogue that needs to occur between a student and pro: the truly 1st step on becoming a satisfied golfer. In today’s piece, John challenges some century old assumptions relating to swing set-up, keys things that can make or break a swing before the club even moves an inch.
About the Grip… Of course- we begin with a reflection on THE GRIP. The GRIP, the GRIP, the GRIP- it’s been studied more than the Bible. Congressional subcommittes have held hearings on the grip. Grip dogma has always revolved around ‘stronger’ or ‘weaker’ hands, obsession with where the ‘v’s’ are pointing, ‘palms facing each other’, baseball grip versus overlap, interlock and curious fascination with what the pinky is up to. Don’t even start to talk about what the thumb can do. And there’s always this sense what’s right and wrong. What I’ve discovered is that there is tremendous variation in the Grip.. look at Azinger, Arnie, and Charles Owens they all have radically different grips, but they are all super ball strikers.
So what is it about how they hold their club- what do they have in common- what might not be so easy to see in a photograph that actually means something, something we can actually learn from? What you can’t see is that they are masters at maintaining correct pressure on the club. Your grip might be gorgeous, but if your grip pressure is fluctuating like the NASDAQ or, worse yet, the real estate market,
then you’ve got issues.
If you rate your pressure at a 7.5 from 1 to 10, that’s ok- but steady as she goes or there’s going to be a wrinkle in the overall dynamic flow of your swing.
Lite might be the ticket for beer or yogurt but your grip can’t be too light. Otherwise, there’s a sense in the backswing that the club is getting away followed by a high pressure gripping to get things under control.
Tighty isn’t mighty: There is a natural tendency to ‘strike’, ‘hit’, ‘attack’ the ball but that’s just not the way it works. As the club picks up intense speed through the downswing- inadequate pressure beforehand or any large increase in tension will alter the swing path, clubface alignment, and drastically reduce your distance.
About Posture and Stance…. One of the pillars of the golf swing is a sound address position, and its one aspect of the swing where there is little variation among the superstars. My advice on stance and posture may not be well received by my colleagues- save your time and dollars spent on the lesson tee for other matters- the economy’s tough enough.
You can come close to perfection simply by looking at who’s out there. Look at those golf magazines that you’ve piled up, google images, or freeze frame one of those DVD’s you bought, then get a mirror or commission your restless teenagers to tell you what they see. Look for a pro who has a build similar to yours- you might be built like a Corey Pavin or a Vijay, whatever…. find your doppelganger and make their moves. Look at how they flex their knees, how their arms hang, where their head rests, how their back is arched, and where the ball sits (approx 2 inches back from the left heel.) One thing that won’t show up in the photos... the toes. Never turn down your toes as if you are digging in to the turf. You’re no kitty digging in the litter. Relax your feet and allow good footwork to happen.
Getting into motion…. There is a growing school of thought that is challenging the old assumptions. Technology such as Track Man™ and careful look at a century of swing film and photo has shed new light on what’s really happening during the swing. Things aren’t exactly what they seemed to be.
As we were taught in the 60’s and what remains standard today, classic swing philosophy explains that a key aspect of fine ball striking is loading your weight to your right side. This usually features some acceptable head movement to the right. While that may be the truth for many and an effective formula for fine play, it may not be the whole truth. I’ve now realized that centeredness is a key within the swing and there are different ways of accounting for this in the living swing.
In the 3rd of this four part series we will be getting into detail about this emerging swing philosophy- what some may call “Stack and Tilt”. The previously damned swing tendency referred to as ‘reverse pivoting’ while ultimately flawed, may have been telling us something about a different way to consider things. If you aren’t sure where you are traveling to cap off the summer, consider a trip to Wildwood Country Club, New Jersey. PGA Pro John Appleget is working with Track Man™ and having incredible results with his students- for they are seeing what they’ve never been able to see before. Stand 3 feet away from something moving 100+ miles per hour and try to tell a friend what you saw. Hmmm.. The naked eye just doesn’t tell the truth, not the whole truth anyway.
John Carpineta is a distinguished member of the Phila. Section of a PGA Professional at the Bensalem Township Country Club.