Quoting Maverick's famous line "I feel the need, the need for speed" has become a common practice in golf today. However, many golfers misunderstand this concept and equate it with maximizing body, arm and hand speed, which often leads to overswinging.
To address this issue, I always start my teaching by emphasizing the importance of creating force instead of speed. A boxer who relies only on fast hand movements without proper hip rotation is unlikely to win many fights. Similarly, a golfer who focuses solely on fast hand movements, as most people interpret a cue for speed, will not generate the desired distance or consistency.
To help golfers understand this concept, I use a demonstration. I show them how moving hands quickly without using the rest of the body to generate force is ineffective by throwing a mock punch from the side. Then, I demonstrated the correct way to create force using a rotational golf swing. I wind up my whole body and then unwind it in a rotational movement, where my hands follow the rest of my body, resulting in the correct timing of impact.
The ultimate goal of a golfer should be to create force efficiently and effectively at the right moment in the swing, which is at impact.
Now that we’ve generally identified that we are trying to create force instead of “speed”, let’s look at what to focus on to maximize force. Something that any and all golfers can work on.
There are three main concepts that will help you achieve maximum force through the ball if worked on correctly. Contact, sequencing and ground reaction force can all be used to achieve great force with minimal effort. The factors should be addressed in this order as each will help build on the other and promote consistency as well as increased force and distance.
If you’re a seasoned golfer, you’re familiar with the sweet spot. The center of mass on a club that promotes the best result, but if you are new to golf, you may not know exactly what’s being talked about. More and more, clubs are not built to give anyone a particular indication of where clubs are meant to be hit. Golfers take for granted that beginners would understand inherently that clubs are meant to be hit in the center. Go look at your own irons. If you had never played golf, what indication is there to you that any particular spot on the club would be any more effective than any other spot? Keep in mind that the most important and first piece in learning to create force, consistency and distance is being able to make contact consistently with the sweet spot.
The same sequence of movements in addition to creating consistency, done well can be a huge source of force and momentum generation. Going back to the example of the baseball pitcher, think of a baseball pitcher that attempts to move their arm faster in transition and early towards home plate. Doing it in this way will ensure that almost no force is delivered and the pitch will come out weakly and off target. The transition sequence should be, pressure transfer, lead hip turn (differentiated from turning your *hips*), lead shoulder and torso rotation, arm swing and hands. This sequence, again envisioning a baseball pitcher will allow for the maximum generation of momentum and maximum creation of torque. The more you can separate each piece of this sequence from the last, extending the time maximally between shift and hand hit, the more momentum and torque you will create.
The final piece of creating force through impact is Ground Reaction Force. Ground Reaction Force (GRF) refers to the force that the ground exerts on your body as you move during your golf swing. Many golfers focus on their body's position in space during the swing, but they often overlook the crucial role of the ground and its effects on power generation. To achieve effortless power, it is essential to utilize the ground effectively by keeping your feet in contact with it and pushing against it as much as possible. Many people believe that lifting their feet off the ground will increase speed, but this is not the case. Instead, focus on maintaining a stable platform by keeping your feet on the ground. Your feet should only move to support your body's movement, and they should actively push into the ground to generate force.
By pushing into the ground, the ground reaction force transfers the opposite force to your body. The summation of both vertical and horizontal forces can be used to generate significant amounts of force that can translate into power during the golf swing. The difference between players at every level is their ability to leverage the ground. Most golfers, aside from small single-digit handicaps, have not considered their interaction with the ground, as they are more concerned with their body's spatial relationship. However, tour professionals understand the importance of leveraging the ground because it provides the most stable platform for generating power.
Golf and creating a golf swing that maximizes force, power and consistency is a process that takes time and insight. Contact me to learn more about how we can start building your game and swing beyond a level you ever thought possible.
Brad Alston, PGA is the Director of Instruction at Optimum Golf, he performs lessons at aurora Hills Golf Course, Optimum Golf Park Hill and Optimum Golf RiNo