Swing Sequence: Key to a Great Golf Swing

Question: Golf Swing Sequence

I’m left handed. When I play well I can shoot some good scores (mid 70s) but I am very hit and miss. My problem is pull and duck hooks with most clubs.  My grip is neutral and alignment is ok but from the top of my swing I have to make an almighty effort to stop my hands flipping over and causing hooks and pulls. Even good shots by me start slightly right of target and bad shots then go further right. My divot is pretty ok (pointing ever so slightly right but not bad). Even though I hook the ball I can’t ever seem to start it to the left and draw it back to target. Even by quarter way down in my downswing I can feel my wrists rolling and have to hang on for dear life. I have a slight over swing (caused I think by right elbow bending at the top) and I have been told that I seem to be on my back (left) foot at impact. Do you think these could be causes of my overactive hands in the downswing.  Any thoughts you might have on this would be appreciated as it is driving me mad and I can’t seem to stop it. Thanks for listening.

Regards John (Ireland)

Answer: Golf Swing Sequence

Thank you so much for sending in this great question. This is a great example a player looking to take his game to the next level. As your game improves, the harder it is to shed strokes off your score. It is easier to reduce your score from 120 to 100 than it is to consistently go from 75 to 72. The most important thing will be to commit to the change and understand that the scores will likely go backwards at the start. This can be mitigated by a great short game. So please don’t forget to practice your short game even though you are making changes to your long game.

In reading your description above, it sounds like a sequencing issue. I would say that you make a lot of the right moves, however, they may not be in the right order. When we are not in the proper swing sequence it can impact our positioning through our golf swing. In your case, it is causing you to come slightly over the top and hang back on your left foot at impact. Let’s take a look at the swing sequence first, and then how a couple of positions are preventing you from scoring in the low 70s.

The instruction in this lesson is geared for any level of player who is looking to understand and improve their swing sequence.

Ball Flight Laws

As it has been described above, this player pulls the ball and creates hook spin on his shots. The club face through impact determines the line the ball starts on. The path relative to that face angle determines spin (hook/slice).

Therefore we can determine that this player’s club face is slightly closed at impact, The path is anywhere from slightly over the top to square to slightly inside out, depending on how much he is hooking the ball. The more hook the more square to inside out the swing path.

This is primarily caused by the miss timing of the swing sequencing. When we start the down swing we want to make sure it is initiated by the lower body. If not it can lead to too much of our lower body weight being too much on our back foot at impact. If our weight is too far back through impact then our hands and arms will rotate too much through the ball and create a closed cub face (pull).

One way to help with the proper swing sequence it to find a lower body downswing trigger. This means that when you get to the top of your backswing you use something on your lower body to start your downswing action. There are many different ways to do this, and sometimes the hardest part is picking the one that works best for you. For example:

  • Jack Nicklaus would raise his front heel on his backswing and his downswing trigger was to replace this heel on the ground. Thus shifting his lower body weight first.
  • Nick Faldo was on the Golf Channel taking about pulling his front knee towards the target.
  • I have also heard of players putting their scorecard in their rear pocket closest to the target. This is a reminder to start their downswing by moving the scorecard to the target.

I would suggest practicing with these different concepts. Start with the one that makes the most sense to you and see how it feels. Anyone of them will work and there are plenty of others, probably even a couple that are undiscovered. This will help get your lower body weight to be even or slightly ahead of the golf ball at impact. This is key to a solid strike.

Now that we have discussed the swing sequence it is time to discuss a little golf swing theory. A lot of time players have heard they should stay behind the ball at impact. This can be a little miss leading. When I teach I like to separate our upper body weight and lower body weight. I find that when our weight is discussed as one piece their proper distributions get confusing. For example, on the backswing players are told to shift their weight onto their back foot. I prefer to explain that we want to shift our upper body weight onto our back foot. When people shift their whole weight they tend to slide their hips on their back swing getting them out of position.

The same concept holds true for the downswing. We want our head to stay behind the ball but not our lower body. If we don’t follow the swing sequence as described above and keep our lower body weight behind the golf ball then our shoulders will pull our club into an over the top position. This will cause the pull, and keeping our lower body weight on our back foot will force the arms to over rotate through impact. This over rotation will likely create a closed club face at impact and impart hook spin on the golf ball. This means for this left handed player that his shots will start right and go more right of his target.

This is not to say that this type of swing sequence will not work. It is just harder to have consistently great timing. One day you might be “on” and hit a lot of great shots to shoot a low score. However the next day you are all over the place. Excessive rotation can cause this inconsistency.

In order to get a sense for how your weight should feel at impact start in your setup position. Now turn your hips towards your ‘target’ without moving anything else. Keep your head steady and don’t move your golf club. Try to get your belly button to point towards the butt end of your golf club (that is assuming you started in strong setup position and your hands were ahead of your golf ball). Now hold this position.

Take special note of where you feel your lower body weight. It should be primarily on your front foot (target side). You will also see how it is mostly on the heel of that foot. That is a great sign that the lower body has rotated properly and cleared the hips out of the way for the arms at impact.

Now let’s tie this into the arms rotating properly through impact. Maintaining this position with your belly button pointed at the butt end of the club and your weight to the heel of the target side foot. Now turn your chest and shoulders towards your ‘target’ so that arms are fully extended and pointing at the ‘target’. Take careful note of how your arms rotate at almost the same rate as your shoulders are turning.

Now try the opposite. Start in your setup position and shift most of your lower body weight onto your back foot, while keeping everything else still. Now try and turn your chest and shoulders and feel how much quicker your arms rotate. This type of rotation is the kind that is very hard to keep consistent.

So, remember, for consistent ball ball striking, find a trigger that will start the downswing sequence with the lower body and have the lower body weight move to your front foot through and beyond impact.

I hope you found this lesson helpful. Good luck with your practicing and playing. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kris Ruiter