This is part 1 of a 3-part series on building a powerful and consistent golf swing:

Part 1 – [You Are Here] How To Load The Club During The Back Swing
Part 2 – Foot Pressure In The Golf Swing & How To Feel It
Part 3 – Golf Swing Side Tilting & Extending | Weight & Pressure Data

I’ve experimented a lot during my career as a golf pro. And witnessed first hand the little idiosyncrasies that produce good moves and bad as a teacher of the game.

What I’m going to share with you today will help you not only ‘load’ the club going back but also help you stay centered with your body and understand how to use the ground properly to produce power.

Loading

There’s a few things we need to do during the back swing to produce a powerful blow through impact. There’s the full pivot action of the body, an arm swing and a hinging of the wrists. All necessary to apply power to the ball through impact.

The backswing should essentially be a fluid ‘loading’ motion.

Having spent time around many good players it has become apparent to me that whether you have a cupped left (lead) wrist (extension) ala Ben Hogan, or a bowed lead wrist (flexion) like Dustin Johnson, at the top, it’s important you combine this with the maximum amount of wrist cock to benefit from loading properly.

Basically, the more wrist cock (radial deviation) you can create at the top of the backswing, the more stored power you can create coming down. This leads to a forward leaning shaft at impact.

There has been many ways people load during the back swing.

The club can be loaded early, gradually, or late, as long as it is fully loaded at the top of the backswing or no later than the transition move into the downswing.

Tiger, Annika and Norman load and set the club gradually during the back swing. Although Tiger sets the club a little earlier now since he has worked with Sean Foley. Who like me and many others, prefer an earlier wrist set.

Jack Nicklaus had a very late back swing load and setting of the wrists.

While guys like Johnny Miller, Jay Haas and Kenny Perry all set and load the club very early on the back swing.

So there’s more than one way of getting it done.

I’m all for getting back to impact properly and producing the desired dynamics. If someone came to me with a late wrist set and load but had an amazing downswing and impact, I wouldn’t change that! that would just be changing something for the sake of it and not a good teaching mentality. The real answers lie in the route cause of things.

As long as we’re loading our lag going back and lagging our load coming down. It’s all good..

So why do I promote an early wrist set?

Simply because I’ve been around so many amateur golfers who sway so much during their back swing. With a late setting and loading of the wrists, it only promotes a sway away from the target with body. Namely the head and hips.

If there’s no priority in setting the wrists early then there’s definitely the chance of allowing the body to sway as the hands drag the club away during the back swing.

I don’t like any movement of the body swaying away from the target during the back swing. Unless you practice hitting balls doing it hundreds of times a day, chances are you won’t get back to impact in the desired position. Which includes having your weight forward, hands forward and shaft leaning forward. The downswing happens too fast.

Most PGA tour pros average between 80-95% weight on their lead leg at impact.

How To Use The Legs To “Load and Explode”

The legs play a huge role in the golf swing and learning how and when to push off the ground is essential if you want to introduce some more power into your move.

Studying the Pressure Patterns of the top players in the world you start to realize that most Tour Pros transfer at least 80% of pressure to the trail foot in the backswing, and at least 80% to the lead foot by impact.

For example:

Justin Thomas: 88% in the trail leg at the top, 93% in the lead leg by impact.
Jason Day: 95% in the trail leg at the top, 77% in the lead leg at impact.
Kevin Kisner: 80% in the trail leg at the top, 91% in the lead leg at impact.

This can be measured with a Boditrak mat or swing Catalyst Balance plate or something similar.

Here’s a short analysis of Kevin Kisners pressure trace by Terry Hashimoto of Boditrak.

Sure, everyone’s a little different with their numbers but there’s no disputing the ground must be the first link in the kinetic chain of energy transfer to produce the most amount of power. Once we use our legs to drive into the ground, the ground reacts and pushes back (think of a trampoline) up into our body with an equal amount of force.

This force then gets transferred up the chain though the body. First through the legs, then pelvis, core, shoulders, arms, club and eventually to the ball.

Weight V Pressure

Pressure is not weight – in fact, the two can oppose one another i.e. Load the pressure under the back foot, but keep the weight forward.

In a nutshell, weight refers to the COM (Center of Mass). The central points (Center of Shoulders & Center of Hips) of the body throughout the swing. If the hips or head move to the right, the weight has moved to the right.

The slight bias of the lower body forward in the setup that I like to teach is produced by moving the hips a little more over the lead foot, 55% instead of 50/50. The mass has moved slightly closer to the lead foot so the weight has moved a little forward also.

During the swing, we want to keep the mass (weight) slightly forward. But the pressure exerted into the ground through the feet and movement of the swing needs to move from one foot the other, especially if you want to produce maximum power in your swing. This is called the Pressure Trace or COP (Center of Pressure).

At the top, and during the transition the pressure should start to drastically increase under the lead foot (think of crushing a Coke can under your lead foot..).

For elite players, this ground reaction force is transferred into their lead glute (from their trail glute during the top of their backswing), and then they thrust their lead leg into the ground through impact.

So, to produce the most efficient and powerful swing, we should keep our weight (mass) slightly forward but LOAD the pressure under our trail foot going back. Remember, Pressure is not weight (Mass).

How To Start The Swing

Here’s how I see the golf swing starting, and I’ve got a few thoughts on it.

Firstly, the club head travels the furthest in the swing so therefore it makes perfect sense for that to start moving first. Right?

After all the arc or circle that the club head is traveling on is a lot larger than say the arc of our hands or the rotation of our body.

So to get the club head moving first the hands have to play a very specific role in the takeaway. And it’s simply a feeling of hinging the club head up and setting the club with a cocking of the wrists and simultaneous bending of the right wrist. If you can do this in conjunction with your body’s pivot, you shouldn’t have any problem loading fully during your back swing.

Here’s a great video I found of Steve Elkington working with Paul Kopp in their ‘Secret in The Dirt’ series

The second part of the equation is the direction of the hands.

This is the easy part, and if your arms are connected to your torso they should move back, up and inward.

From a down the line view, your hands and arms should be hanging pretty much straight down from your shoulders. Just draw a line straight down from your shoulders and as your hands move back and up, they should also move inside or eventually this line.

If you haven’t got an app on your phone or tablet to analyze your own swing. You’re truly being left behind nowadays. Download the V1 app to the right by clicking on the banner.

So, we know the club head should move first in the takeaway and we know our hands (that control the club head) should move back, up and inwards. But how do we check to see if the club face is in the right position?

Check this video out and start implementing this drill when you practice.

It will SET the club face in the correct position during the takeaway so you can move and turn fully during the back swing and not have to manipulate the club face coming down. Also, there’s a few other bits of info.

Note to self: I must stop rambling in my videos and get to the point faster…. Also check my bloopers at the end..

Now, please show some love by leaving a comment or question below. Do you agree that the club head should move first? Want to know more about loading? Ask away.. Just want to say thanks… that’s fine too.

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