Awhile back, I wrote an article about the controversial debate among the teaching community concerning left side vs. right as used in the golf swing.
This time, I'd like to delve a little further into the proper use of the sides to hopefully clear up any misunderstanding that might exist in the minds of my loyal readers.
If you can get a good working concept of how these opposing sides function in an effective golf swing, you'll see dramatic improvement with your golf game.
The first thing you have to understand is that the muscles in your body always work in opposition (contract and expand). While one side is stretched, the other side contracts.
In a golf swing, the left side stretches while the right side contracts on the back swing (coil). On the forward swing, the left side contracts and the right side expands (this is where the debate gets heated and misunderstood).
The popular line of thinking has the average player extending the left arm away from the body and contracting the right arm in against the right hip.
This is the perfect recipe for every slice, shank or top you'll ever hit, and is the exact opposite of what should take place. All the muscles that have been stretched going back now have to contract going through, while the contracted muscles are allowed to expand. The opposite sides are doing opposite things at the same moment of time.
This is where the word "extension" comes into play and confusion mounts. It's the right side that extends down the line going through, not the left.
Until this concept is fully understood, power and direction will not happen. Get these ideas programmed into your golf computer (brain) and you're automatically on your way to better golf.
The best way I know to get you to feel how the sides function in a good golf swing is my old reliable split-grip drill.
Place your hands about 2 inches apart on the club handle (you should have the sense that the left arm is now the "short" arm and the right is the "long" arm). As you go back, feel a stretch in your upper left side (armpit to waistline) and a "resistance" in your right leg. You're now coiled and ready to recoil through the ball on your way to a full finish.
As you start down, your cocked right elbow instantly begins to unhinge (getting longer) so as you pass the impact area the right arm is fully extended and the left elbow is starting to fold. This is exactly what must happen if you hope to square the club back to the ball.
Take your sand wedge, split your hands on the handle and make several swings back and through. Become aware of left side stretch going back and right side stretch coming through. Work on this every day for the next few weeks and watch your game get better and stronger.
Yours for better golf.
Del Starks is a PGA teaching professional at Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter. Contact him at (561) 262-0708, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.delstarks.com.