Monday, 24 May 2021

The Golden Axis in the Backswing Phase. The [Radial Extension - Ulnar Flexion - Radial Extension] Sequence.

A natural consequence of finding excellent application of the Golden Axis in the downswing phase is verifying its usefulness in the backswing phase. This urge is being certainly enhanced either by opinions of such greats as Johnny Miller or Nick Faldo researches of such genial theorists as Mac O'Grady who all recommended the so-called early set of the wrists. For instance, Johnny Miller writes in his great book 'Pure Golf': "The early cocking action sets up the late release. But equally important is the fact that wrists have to cock somewhere and, when they do, they must cock without disturbing the angle in the left wrist. Otherwise, the clubface will not be maintained in a square position. It is not only more natural to set the hands early. it is frankly far easier to do than the late cocking since the club is still in front of you in the early set and the club is traveling so much slower at this early stage of the backswing than toward the end of the backswing."


While we surely appreciate the afore-mentioned points and gladly neglect Miller's lack of anatomical know-how, we rather prefer to concentrate on channeling the clubhead momentum through the Golden Axis of the lead wrist as the main goal that leads to eliminating redundant rotation of forearms not responding to the clubhead's CoG momentum. This is especially important as excessive forearm rotation gives the feeling (and in fact provides it) of accumulating power during the downswing phase. It brings some problems as well -- first, sucking the clubhead too low and to the inside too much (it is difficult to remain on this plane later on) and secondly, jeopardizing the clubface stability (that might have serious repercussions when fighting for the clubface stability in the wide impact zone). Of course some procedures as e.g. Scapular Plane Humerus Takeaway may vividly help but will not eliminate all possible errors. One thing is very important and we are in a full accordance with Johnny Miller -- the earlier the wrist acts the smaller are the chances for forearm rotation to occur. Let us show the comparison of the author's swing without (left, white shirt) and with (right, dark shirt) Golden Axis backswing below:

Biokinetic sequence of momentum transfer throughout the whole swing motion along the Golden Axis of the lead wrist is then radial deviation coupled with dorsi flexion (a good abbreviation would be 'radial extension') at transition it starts to transform gradually into almost full ulnar deviation coupled with palmar flexion (a good abbreviation would be 'ulnar flexion') approaching impact and then it transforms again into radial deviation coupled with dorsi flexion (i.e. into 'radial extension') after separation. A very good validation of this sequence is the fact that if, theoretically, a man would like to mimic a golf swing with a very heavy object (say, a spade) using a golf grip he can do it relatively easy without losing balance with this sequence only. The conversion into 'ulnar flexion' during the downswing phase does not happen at transition otherwise lag angle is lost momentarily -- mind you, palmar flexion reduces radial deviation inevitably. Therefore, it happens automatically late in the downswing when momentum is too big for the wrists to stay in 'radial extension'



 It is to be pointed out that the rear hand can be of a huge help to secure the Golden Axis of the lead wrist during the backswing phase but only when the rear wrist can also act more or less on this axis. It is possible with the Bio-K grip, i.e. when both hands are in natural position on the grip (and not in a parallel opposite position as many teachers recommend because it would force one of the forearms to rotate in order to accomodate). In this scenario, a golfer can concentrate on guiding the momentum via both wrists or even via the rear hand if one is accustomed to the rear side backswing. This backswing biokinetic sequence could be described as gradual transformation of a tiny 'radial extension' of both wrists established at address into a full 'radial extension' of both wrists at the top (maximizing all angles while maintaining the rear hand in the 'holding tray' desired position). Then from the top, resulting from the change of the orientation during the transition, clubhead momentum shallows the plane neutralizing full 'radial extension' of the lead wrist while maximizing it in the rear wrist. Please see a beautiful angle of the Henry Cotton's transition below:

The Golden Angle address universality is also worth underlining. Since some golfers prefer to have high hands at set-up it means that they are more on the 'ulnar flexion' side while those who prefer low set-up of hands (as e.g. Mac O'Grady advocates) have their lead wrist already slightly 'radially extended'. The lower hands' position appears to be better as the angle has already been established in right direction and there are practically no room for any redundant forearm rotation to occur, however, high hands at set-up can be offset by their more mid-body position. When we compare Mac O'Grady's low 'y-shaped' position (the so-called 'impact fix') with Ben Hogan's high 'Y-shaped' mid-body one we can easily see that both make sense. However, if someone prefers a low 'Y-shaped' position or a high 'y-shaped' one will meet certain problems in reaching optimal Golden Axis channeling process.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Control Enhancement in the Controlled Draw Pattern. Channeling Clubhead Momentum via the Golden Axis.

Wrist is the most mobile joint in the whole human body. It can flex, extend, deviate and perform all possible combinations of these motions. When we add also the pronation and supination of forearms it appears that our hands can move in practically all directions. In view of this fact wrists can be seen as chains in between nunchaku sticks joining forearms and hands gripping the club, hence joining practically arms and the clubshaft. This notion is very important for those who believe in lack of conscious actions in this area of the body. Let us remind here the famous quote from Ben Hogan's '5 Lessons' book:


Mr.Hogan was of course right, as almost always. But the biokinetical truth is more complex than that. Our wrists are capable to both deviate in both direction (cock/uncock) and flex in both direction (hinge/unhinge); moreover, there is a coupling between these action described in our 'Omnium Trium Perfectum' article, namely that the most usual movement of the wrist is one of dorsi flexion (extension) combined with radial deviation, and of palmar flexion combined with ulnar deviation. Pure palmar-dorsal flexion (flexion-extension) and radial-ulnar deviation are movements that rarely occur in a straight plane. It is like that because when we want to maximize ulnar deviation range we unintentionally bow the wrist which means we flex it palmarily; conversely, when we want to maximize radial deviation range our wrist becomes dorsally flexed. It should give us the picture that the axis of wrist deviation RoM is not parallel to pure deviation motions but is slanted from slight palmar flexion to slight dorsal flexion just as shown below (we shall call it "the Golden Axis"):


Please note what scientifists wrote ( : "The earliest notation of the functional use of conjoined wrist motions is attributed to Fisk, who noted the association of wrist extension with radial deviation and wrist flexion with ulnar deviation “when someone is casting a fly, throwing a dart, or conducting an orchestra.” Palmer et al showed that many occupational activities, exemplified by hammer use, involved an arc of motion from radial deviation and wrist extension to ulnar deviation and wrist flexion. These investigators popularized the term dart thrower’s arc to describe this conjoined wrist motion. Indeed, nearly all sporting activities, including pitching, racquet sports, fly fishing, javelin throw, batting, and golf also use the dart-thrower’s arc of wrist motion."

These motions along the Golden Axis are present in many human activities such as e.g. throwing darts or hammering nails. It shows us that this is the most effective and natural motion of the wrist -- not pure deviation or pure flexion/extension, but this coupling combination of , say, radial extension and ulnar flexion, a direction along a path of the dart thrower's wrist motion. A very interesting additional phenomenon is that the Golden Axis is the only one easily achieved and there is no other possibility to do it in another direction without the conscious help of pronation/supination movements of our forearms. Moving the wrist along the Golden Axis engages pronation and supination only in a slight necessary manner to perform the motion from maximal ulnar to maximal radial deviation. Moreover ,as beautifully described in the 'Solutions to Lengthen the Flat Spot. Part 4. Controlling Up and Down Movements: Automatic Shallowing via Sweetspot' article, further pronation/supination motions of forearms are just the automatic response for clubhead's CoG momentum.

The clubhead momentum created after the top during the downswing phase is huge (the head is relatively heavy because it is located at the end of a long shaft) not only ensuring a strong hit at the ball but also enough large to create balance problems of the whole body at the end of the swing. The lead wrist after impact bends at an angle (and not just purely radially deviates) which can be easily seen when we try to maximize its range of motion up which is totally in accordance with the slap-hinge release principles. Momentum vector is in line to the axis of maximum radial deviation enforced by the help of dorsi flexion. Further motion along the Golden Axis leads to absorb the momentum in the most effective way as the limit of the lead wrist's motion range is being reached in the most natural and neutral way possible -- no excessive or intentional supination/pronation of forearms which is equal to clubface stability, repeatability and consistency of strokes within the pattern. It even can be a primary goal to eliminate conscious pronation or supination; pronation and supination of forearms should occur totally unintentionally; the follow through without supination of the lead arm and pronation of the rear one requires to be preceeded by the slap-hinge release (or, at least, by some elements of the slap-hinge release, i.e. dorsal flexion of the lead wrist after impact) since without it the sweetspot would wander off plane or would require a very strong pivot and pure push release (not a good option for seniors and body-handicapperd golfers) or just an early swivel as in the heavily timing-dependent crossover release.

This is extremely important for draw patterns that require long flat spot and it is crucial to have stable clubface all the time there -- fades basing on slight OTT accross the ball have a very short flat spot, hence potential problems with clubface horizontal stability are minimal comparing to draws.

Mac O'Grady (and his later successors as e.g. Stack&Tilt promotors) strongly recommended more or less conscious "recocking" of the wrists in the follow through phase as a power leakage  and lack of post-impact balance antidotum. From 'The Stack and Tilt Swing' by M.Bennet and A.Plummer: " The unhinging of the wrists  on the downswing is a result of the club gaining dynamic weight and your right arm straightening, both of which exert a strong outward force and cause the wrists to unhinge. [...] Rehinging is an important action that better players often do instinctively but that less experienced golfers need to focus on. Just as the club got heavy on the downswing, causing your wrist to unhinge, it should feel heavy after impact, so your wrist rehinge to absorb this force. [...] If your body is left to brake the swing without help from the rehinging of your wrists, the club's momentum can pull you off balance."
While we can certainly agree to the latter we cannot follow the first part. "Recocking" phenomenon happens entirely unintentionally when the shoulder girdle is not rapidly opening through and after impact -- simply energy of the club and clubhead coming from the body and arms forces wrists to cock. We are sure though that Mac O'Grady knew that the lead wrist had to cock and hinge together to maximize the bend because it can be seen on his swing videos while watching very carefully what happens with his lead wrist. It is more the Golden Axis bend than typical slap-hinge release only or plain naive thinking about "recocking".
Moreover, it is crucial to remember about dividing the motion of the shoulder girdle from the torso as we described in detail in our last article from this year. Then the only thing we should do is to let the clubhead momentum guide the wrists to move up along the Golden Axis unintentionally. As we can see on the comparison below the effect is practically the same, no matter if one is a great pro with athletic body and one of the best swing motions in the history of golf and the other is just an old body-handicapped untrained weekend hacker who trusts the Golden Axis:

Seniors and body-handicapped golfers would bless the possibility of playing draws in a controlled manner without forcing their bodies to try to perform very tough moves, such as e.g. very strong pivot, straight arms after impact or maintaining tour-quality flexions and extensions of all joints. It is worth remembering that late Mr.Hogan preferred to sacrifice his overhuman accuracy as he couldn't score well with shortened discances; we all should consider the same attitude unless we want to suffer much worse scores or to play from women's tees. Here is a brief video summary dedicated to the Controlled Draw Pattern:

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Further Important Facilitation for the Controlled Draw Pattern. Antithetic Body + Waggle.

We already know that the process of opening the shoulders has to be delayed in the Controlled Draw Pattern. Since the rotary motion is very prevailing for us humans taking into account the orientation of the motion while maximizing power unintentionally it is relatively very tough to control the amount of turning shoulders in relation to hips. While looking at the great drawing taken from one of Sir Henry Cotton's great books below let us deepen into the subject throughfully:

Human anatomy calls the body part between hips and shoulder girdle the thoracic/abdominal part. Together with pelvic region this part forms the so-called trunk or torso. Many golf theorists that were not anatomy-literate had difficulties in understanding that the thoracic part is much more merged to pelvis than to shoulders and, thus, often separated hips from what is above the waist. The consequence is that even if they understood the sequentiality of the motion well (i.e. they wanted hips turn before the shoulders during the downswing phase so to speak) they introduced unnecessary timing element even without knowing about it as they wanted their students to use their mid-torso together with shoulders and the effect was that there were three parts moving separately from each other. 

The answer is very simple and effective -- if we follow anatomy and its nuances we will merge the rotation of the pelvic area with the thoracic/abdominal part which will mean the whole torso (trunk) is going to move as an unit and can easily move in opposition to the shoulder girdle. Moreover, It is de facto easier to turn hips together with torso as they are less mobile as they cannot protract and retract (protraction and retraction occur only in two major regions of the body – the scapula and the mandible) hence the shoulder girdle can be more separated from the torso in its movement and it is able to move in a completely different orientation which is very helpful in our Controlled Draw Pattern, the more we talk invariably about the rear shoulder in depression and the lead one in protraction. 

Someone could ask why not to limit the motion of the hips and move them together with torso and shoulder girdle so that the timing issues can be eliminated. Unfortunately, the timing issues will paradoxially occur in a bigger scale as limiting the turning motion of the hips in the downswing is against the cascade of biokinetical events for a biped and would require lots of timing to control it; it is partially possible to convert its rotary motion orientation into linear one (as Stack and Tilt gurus suggest) but to do it just to ensure demanded motion of the shoulders while introducing a huge timing factor is just not wise; it is much better to create as big angular gap between pelvis and shoulder girdle as possible starting already at setup and letting the shoulders do their job unintentionally. Hence the big role of Antithetic Waggle concept that we are returning to a bit later in the article.


It is worth noting that this configuration of both shoulder joints (even including a pronounced axis tilt preset) can be noticed in the famous scene from 'The Greatest Game Ever Played' movie (above; we were lucky to find this fragment on You Tube) when the old Scottish pro Alec Campbell gives young Francis Ouimet a lesson before his US Open battle against Vardon and Ray and uses a stick making his lead shoulder protract while rear one depress and, simultaneously, closing his shoulder girdle in relation to his entire torso. What is extremely important, it all happens during the set-up phase, therefore, it is exactly what we always appreciate in our set-up-dependent swing patterns -- of course we can do it without anyone's help using procedures described in detail in previous articles.

Now we have to go back to one of much earlier articles of our site named 'The Antithetic Waggle'. We have concluded there that the waggle Hogan used could be named "the antithetic waggle". The word 'antithetic' means 'in diametrical opposition' which describe perfectly what is going on with the body. When one waggles the club back one should move the legs and hips into the opposite direction, like one wants to maintain symmetry in the sagittal plane. Now we want something more, i.e. diametrical opposition of the whole torso (hips and thoracic/abdominal part) against the shoulder girdle. 

Please look at Mr.Hogan here and pay close attention how his body goes in diametrical opposition to his arms:


Now associate this image with much more pronounced rotation of the whole torso anticlockwise against the protraction of the lead shoulder and the depression of the rear one with the arms waggling as in Mr.Hogan's case. It creates a pretty strong opposition, strong enough to rename the whole notion to "The Antithetic Body + Waggle" (when "+" means something deliberately added to the concept). Since this new procedure presets everything very well in this area of the body at setup we have nothing more to do in this section but proceed to start the motion right after. Our body is prepared to follow this achieved preset all the swing up to the impact phase letting us enter it with open torso and a little closed shoulders. Just exactly as on the following pic of Mac O'Grady playing his draw at impact:


By the way, we chose this swing to illustrate the idea as it is known that Mac plays a draw here (since it is described this way in You Tube channel where we found it). Besides O'Grady is a swing motion stylist who based his swing motion on Hogan and Snead which is a very good recommendation for us. What is also important and it is a link to this film Alec Campbell lesson -- if we take a look at Mac's address position it is very easy to "see" an invisible Campbell's stick making his lead shoulder protract resulting in making his lead arm appear over his rear one still at address and, simultaneously, making his rear shoulder depress (our Controlled Draw Pattern would ensure the address position even more similar to the impact one mainly thanks to the new Antithetic Body + Waggle procedure):

P.S. Although it does not belong to today's subject it is worth noticing that both O'Grady as well as the author of this blog used proper diagonality of his stance closing his feet line while letting his hips be slightly open at set up (his lead knee practically covered by his rear one and his lead hip not visible at all).