Why are most people bad at the game of golf is a question we get asked all the time, and the answer is actually quite simple. Golf is a lead side dominant sport, which means if you’re right-handed, your left hand, if you’re using right-handed golf clubs, is the dominant hand in the golf swing. Now, unfortunately, most golfers do everything with their right hand and, because of that, they never train the right hemisphere of their brain that is controlling the left side of the body.
It is critical if you want to be a competent and consistent golfer that you have to learn how to use the left hand to control the golf club. It doesn’t mean that the right hand doesn’t have an important job to do. It has a very important job. It actually helps to transfer power efficiently from the trunk and also acts as a lever in the swing to add power. Unfortunately, because most of us are completely right side dominant, learning how to use the left side is a big challenge at first, and many won’t stick with the couple of weeks of training that is required to start to develop the left side dominant motion.
Now, of course, the body also has a critical role to play that’s actually more important than the left arm, but the reality is that most golfers simply use nothing but their right arm and shoulders to try and do everything in the golf swing, and that leads to every single common swing flaw that you’ve ever imagined the average golfer has. The over-the-top move is caused by overuse of the right arm trying to create power too early in the golf swing. The slice move is a result of that. As the club comes down steeply with an over-the-top swing plane, the club has no natural tendency to want to rotate. Think of this as if you were chopping a piece of wood with an ax. You would swing straight up and down, and the ax head would have no tendency to want to rotate because of the vertical swing plane that you are creating.
The golf swing happens more in three dimensions rather than two. You swing the club around your body on an inclined arc and, because of this, the clubface naturally wants to rotate open in the back swing and naturally wants to rotate closed. However, the steeper your swing plane, the less this tendency helps square the clubface.
Never Over the Top Again
If you use just your left arm and your body to create a golf swing, you’ll instantly find that it’s virtually impossible to swing over the top because the left arm as it internally rotates during the back swing is in a very weakened position, and so the muscles that you have to help rotate and steepen the shaft in the downswing are very limited, but the right hand has no problem steepening the shaft if it’s in an externally rotated position, which opens up the pectoral muscle, which is very powerful. You also have your front deltoid and, of course, the right tricep is loaded up. All three of these things together make it very, very easy to steepen the swing plane and swing over the top.
If you want to get good at golf, you have to learn at first to take the right arm completely out of the swing at first, build the fundamentals into your swing that are going to be body and lead side dominant, and then slowly add the right arm back into the swing, which is exactly the sequence the Rotary Swing Tour method teaches.
The first thing we teach you is weight shift. If you can shift your weight correctly, we’re at least off to a good start. Most amateurs can’t shift their weight because they simply throw their right arm from the top, and this actually creates a situation where your weight wants to hang back on the right side rather than shift back to the left, so we teach you weight shift first and foremost, and you do not pass go, you do not collect $200 until you can shift your weight correctly. We don’t care about the position of your left pinky at the top of your back swing if you can’t shift your weight properly.
From there, we add core rotation. We’re going to get the body in control of the movement of the golf club. If the body is controlling the club, then the arms have a chance to do the right thing. However, if you’re just trying to make a swing that’s all arms dominated and not learning how to use your body correctly, all bets are off, and you will struggle with the game of golf for the rest of your life.
Once you can learn to rotate your core correctly and get the club moving based on how your body is moving, then we add the left arm back into the golf swing. Now that the body is in control of that initial rotation and weight shift, the arm simply has to follow along. It’s being told what to do by the rotating core.
Once the arm is working correctly, we add the golf club back into the mix. Now, listen up, this is the number one place where most people go wrong. They add the golf club into the mix immediately. When you’re trying to work on something new, the golf swing is so complex that you need to break it down into simple, digestible, small chunks that you can master over time rather than trying to learn something new and go straight up to the driving range, grab your driver and swing as hard as you can. You haven’t learned anything in your life like that, and you certainly won’t learn how to play good golf by going to the range and hammering balls while trying to make a big change in your swing. You have to do digestible chunks.
I like to explain this as when you were learning how to drive a manual transmission in a car. If you learned how to drive a manual transmission like many of us, you started out in a back-country parking lot somewhere, a back-country road where there was no distractions. There was no people. There was no traffic. There was nothing for you to hit. We had a wide open space. Perhaps, you were in a wide open field somewhere. Once you learned how to slip the clutch and give it just the right amount of gas, then you were able to progress and slowly move on to, perhaps, a side street with no traffic, and then you learned how to go through traffic with stoplights, and then you eventually learned how to progress to the highway.
You didn’t learn how to drive a manual transmission and then go race in the Indy 500 the next day. Trying to take some random golf tip to the driving range and swing full speed is just as foolish as learning how to drive a manual transmission and trying to race a car the next day. You’re going to crash at turn one, and your golf swing is just like that car crash that you’re experiencing when trying to learn how to drive a car while racing it. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in the golf swing either.
Once you learn how to add the golf club back into the mix to sync out with your body and your arm movement, then and only then do you add the right arm back into the swing and slowly start working at the full speed swings. We don’t even go full speed at first. We work on what we call the nine-to-three drill, which is basically the club shaft being parallel to the ground in the back swing and the club shaft being parallel to the ground in the follow-through. These simple moves of moving the club only 12 feet back and forward allow you to start mastering the weight shift, the core rotation, the left-arm movement, the right-arm movement, the movement of the club while not going at full speed, but still challenging yourself by actually hitting golf balls.
That little white demon can change a lot of things because it distracts you from the focus of learning how to move your core to move the club. All of a sudden, we get fixated on that little white devil, and we no longer pay attention to the movement we had been working on in front of the mirror or on our video camera by just learning how to turn our core and release the club properly, so it’s critical that you build up to that. In fact, I like to use foam balls as an intermediate step rather than just going straight to hitting actual hard golf balls because, psychologically, it’s much easier to get ourselves to focus on just the body movements when we’re not worried about hitting this hard object.
We have to deal with the fear of chunking it, hitting a bad shot, being embarrassed if we’re doing it in front of people at a driving range and so on. Doing it at home with a foam ball takes a lot of those fears away and allows you to progress much more quickly to move up to hitting full shots with a real golf ball.
If you heed this advice, I guarantee that you’ll get better. If you don’t heed this advice, I guarantee you’ll continue to struggle for the rest of your life.