A random video went viral on the nerdier side of the golf Internet last week which was both unintentionally funny and fascinating. There’s a lot golfers can learn from it — even though the video has nothing to do with golf.
I don’t know about you, but whatever social media algorithm I’m on has gotten me totally hooked on the Tik Tok trend of watching terrifying and awesome videos of sailors battling the brutal conditions of the North Sea.
Anyway, one of those terrifying and awesome videos showed a North Sea-dweller hammering a nail with a giant hammer. Then, randomly, that same video started taking off on golf social media because despite the guy being nowhere in sight of dry land—let alone a golf course—his technique looked eerily similar to a golf swing. And a really good golf swing, at that.
So how does swinging North Sea hammer man end up with such a good golf swing without even trying?
Well, one big reason is because golf clubs are relatively lightweight. It’s a gift that allows golfers to swing them faster, but a curse in that they’re easily manipulated—and not always in good ways.
Shift onto your left toe
The sledgehammer this sailor is swinging, on the other hand, is way too heavy to manipulate. The only way he can move this thing from Point A to Point B is to rearrange his body in the most efficient way possible. There’s simply no room for lazy manipulations.
One way you see this is in his transition from backswing to downswing.
First of all there’s no pronounced pause—because if he was to pause while holding a sledgehammer this heavy, he’d probably topple over—but notice how the sailor’s first move down is a hard push into his left foot.
This, as Golf Digest No. 1 ranked teacher Mark Blackburn explains here, is really important.
Lots of amateur golfers struggle with making this move in transition. Either they’ll hang back on their trail side and send the club over the top, slide their hips back and forth with no power or consistency.
The feeling instead should be one of pushing and pulling the ground with your feet: Pushing into your left toe at the start of your downswing, then pulling back off it as you turn through.
“You want to feel like you’re stuffing your toes into the front of your shoes by the time the club gets here,” Blackburn writes.
The best players often push about 30 to 40 percent of their body weight into their lead foot at this point, he says.
The more you push at the start, the more you’ll be able to pull your body back later in your swing. That early press is a big key in all of this. It’s what helps players torque the ground with their feet, and transfer their weight in a way that allows them to rotate so powerfully.
It's one of the things amateur record-setter Nick Dunlap does so well in his golf swing, as you can see below.
So next time you're at the range, think: Push into your left toes, then pull your body back off it. That’s what creates the kind of powerful rotation that is a key to lots of clubhead speed. Or in the sailor’s case, hammerhead speed.
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