Saturday Morning Tip: Why you need a swing trigger

September 02, 2011

*By Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest

Twitter @RogerSchiffman

The term "paralysis by analysis" is a common one heard in golf. How many times have you seen your fellow players virtually freeze over the ball just trying to take the club back. Their arms are so stiff, it looks like rigor mortis is about to set in.

What these golfers need is a swing trigger, something that becomes a habit, gets their mind off swing mechanics and gets their swing started the same way every time. Ideally, it also puts the swing into a smooth, fluid motion, so they can hit shots in a repeatable, consistent fashion.

Sam Snead comes to mind. He often cocked his chin to the right, just before taking the club back. Jack Nicklaus played with Sam once as a youngster and developed a similar swing trigger. "If it was good enough for Sam, it was good enough for me," Nicklaus told me in an interview I did with him recently. That swing trigger also allowed Sam and Jack to make a fuller, more deliberate shoulder turn, which resulted in more distance.

Tom Kite developed a little bending of both knees at address as a last move just before starting the club back. His coach at the time, Chuck Cook, told me it was a trigger designed not only to start the swing, but to get Kite feeling more athletic at address, so he would engage his leg muscles for better support.

One of the more famous swing triggers is Gary Player's kicking in of his right knee. He has done this consistently throughout his long career (see video below). Player told me once that this trigger got his weight moving laterally, which he needed more than most golfers due to his diminutive size. This move got his swing flowing in the direction he would be shifting his weight, and he took it a step farther (literally) when he completed his swing by stepping through with his right foot toward the target on his finish.

It doesn't matter what your trigger is, just as long as you have one. It not only makes it easier to start the club back, it can also promote good things in your swing. If you don't currently have a swing trigger, I suggest you work with your teacher to adopt one.