Club head throwaway is one of the most common swing flaws that I see. Club head throwaway is sometimes referred to as “casting.” It is throwing the club head outward, so the angle between the left arm and the shaft is not retained or as acute, having an angle of 90 degrees or less. In order to sustain lag we must develop a better pivot because the pivot delivers the lag. It is the cargo truck. Without it, all the goods (lag), get spilled out too soon. Hence, in order to create better impact, we need to have better lag, and without a better pivot, we cannot get better lag. This is why I recommend doing the pump drill to increase the quality of your pivot, your lag, and therefore, ultimately, your impact.
First, what is the pivot? Homer Kelly described in The Golfing Machine, “The pivot is the rotation of multiple centers in the body.” Titleist performance Institute (TPI) and others have been able to measure the speed and the sequence spacing of the body’s turn as a series of moving components like a chain reaction. First the hips accelerate in the initial downswing while the torso, arms and club stay back. Once the hips get to a certain point where the left hip (right handed golfer) is stacked adequately over the left knee and the ankle, the hips stabilize and decelerate. Then the torso begins to accelerate. At a certain point, the torso begins to slow down, and the arms kick into gear. Finally, the club is going the fastest at impact. This is done very naturally when we throw a medicine ball from the side to a friend….we step, bump the hips into the lead leg, torso rotates, the arms sling themselves and then the ball flies with the release. This very natural motion is just as easy when throwing a club down the fairway or a practice swing. It is not so easy when we swing with a golf ball in front of us. Our minds go to the ball. We believe that we have to get the club face to the ball in order to help the impact, thus, destroying the “whip cracking or towel snapping” sequence.
In short, each component’s ability to accelerate is predicated on the ability of the preceding component (body part) to decelerate and stabilize. This is a more precise way of describing the series of movements that are necessary for an efficient pivot. In addition, the pivot must have a certain rhythm and spacing between the components. Better spacing usually equals better ball striking and accuracy. As more acceleration and stabilization occurs, the greater the distance. Witness all the baseball, hockey, and cricket players that hit the golf ball extremely long. They have very developed rotational speed and sense of stabilization (these sports are “to the side sports”). They know how to create sharp acceleration and then stabilize on their lead leg from their own sport. Hence, if a student comes to me and they hit the ball extremely far but they hit the golf ball all over the map, I know that the spacing in their pivot needs more consistency. Conversely, if a player is very accurate and they want to increase their distance, they need to work on their ability to accelerate and stabilize in order to hit the ball further. This is where the K-vest can be extremely helpful in measuring the player’s kinematic sequence and speed. For those that need to increase speed and stabilization, I recommend consulting with a physical fitness trainer.
How does this relate to the pump drill? Well for those that don’t have access to a K-vest, the pump drill gives that first initial component, the hips, the feeling of “the bump or the trigger” of their downswing. (I highly recommend using a mirror or better yet the Live View Camera, www.liveviewgolf.com, so you can observe and monitor the pivot sequence while staying in your posture.) The hips set up the initial spacing and sequence of the whole downswing. Secondly, with this “bump” of the left hip the drill also allows the arms to drop into the slot versus the arms moving forward and creating the dreaded “over the top” swing plane. The pump drill gives the student the feel they need to get stacked over to the front leg, allow the arms to drop while the chest stays back and retain the angle between the left arm and the shaft that they created on the backswing. Nearly 90% of my students are surprised at how this drill feels relative to their real golf swing. That’s where the feel and real are different. With the repetition of this drill, the disparity of the two becomes less obvious, the lag gets better and our swing bottom moves forward allowing us to have better impact and more compression of the golf ball.