At its best, teaching is inseparable from entertainment. The more something captures your attention and imagination, the better your chances of being able to recall it later. That's why I use images to teach. The visual is intimately connected to the sensory, so that what you see is what you are able to feel. Swing mechanics are great for the practice tee, but when you play golf, allow your brain to swim in pictures and feelings. That's where the greatest golfers have always excelled. Here are a few images from my new book, Kinetic Golf, that I think will help you see and feel the game at a higher level.
Good positions throughout the swing occur when the motion is working in order. Picture your swing as a uniform circle of flames around your body. The best swings keep the backswing and downswing knitted together in terms of tempo. You don't want to swing back at 20 miles per hour and down at 95 mph; the change of direction would be out of control.
Also, different elements of the swing move at different speeds, or else the body would finish its backswing before the club got halfway there. Imagine the clubhead orbiting at a faster speed than your body--the clubhead at, say, 100 mph and your torso at 30 mph.
To understand the flow of energy from the start of the downswing to the finish, think of how a fisherman casts a fly. The first image here (A) shows how the downswing should begin before the backswing is complete. To use the casting analogy, the tip of the fishing rod is still going back as the fisherman starts forward. You can see here the tassels on my left leg show the left knee is moving forward in response to the weight shift toward the target; it's a great image to think about as the first move down: Get those tassels going early.
The next image (B) is the rest of the body's response to that initial move. All the tassels are now flowing with speed and direction. The last image (C) is a fully rotated finish. My right knee has fired into my left leg; my belt line is horizontal; and my chest is facing left of the target. Try this drill with your arms behind your back, and you'll feel the correct flow of energy.
When you stand to the ball correctly, your hands should hang directly under your breastbone, or between your two shoulder joints. This creates the shape of a triangle, indicated by the shield in these illustrations, and sets the radius of your swing. Ideally, this radius would not vary during the entire motion. Because it's primarily the wrist action that generates leverage, your radius serves as a static constant; it's a controller, not a provider of power. In other words, the leverage of the wrist hinge is harnessed in the radius.
Imagine taking your setup in front of a mirror: You want the shaft at a 90-degree angle to the ground. Your goal is to get the shaft back to that angle at impact. To do that, you have to close (or fold) your right wrist and elbow joints on the backswing, then open them on the downswing.
Slicers tend to have trouble unfolding the right elbow: The body unwinds, but the elbow gets trapped behind it. They need to feel the right hand bleeding away from the right shoulder ASAP in the downswing. Better players sometimes fail to unload the right wrist by impact, so they also need to focus on getting the shaft back to its address position. In short, you have to release the club--all of it--by the time you reach impact.
NICK BRADLEY, *who operates Nick Bradley Golf, has taught numerous tour players, including Justin Rose and Kevin Chappell. This article is excerpted with permission from Kinetic Golf by Nick Bradley, published by Abrams Books, copyright © 2013, 195 pages, $29.95. *