Swing Myths ~ Unicorns

by Tadhg Harrington

15th October 2019

Just as the flat earth society believed the earth was flat, the advent of 3D golf technology has shown many swing “truths’ to be as mythical as the multi-colored unicorn. 


🤥 The club follows a circle around your body as you swing. 🤥

This is one of the more common myths I hear from clients when teaching. I use a “hula-hoop lying on your shoulders” analogy to reference low point in the swing and to describe how the club travels in and out of this reference frame. If you were to draw a circle around the golfer, the club would move out from address, briefly touch the circle on the backswing, and then move markedly inwards at the top. From there, for a professional player maximizing the law of centrifugal force, the club always travels inside on the way down and only hits the circle again at impact. Expert golfers and elite athletes tend to lower their center of gravity when they start to move dynamically. Yes, the circle would actually move slightly downwards and back up at impact. In other words, a swing captured in 3D motion looks nothing like a circle. Not even close.

🤥 Keep your head still. 🤥

The old chestnut, I can still hear it ringing in my ears when first learning the game of golf years ago! Most golfers do not have the flexibility to keep their head still, to stay centered on their backswing as they load the club correctly. The reality is that professional golfers lower their heads slightly in the backswing, and it rises back up through impact due to other forces being applied. The biggest problem for amateur golfers is the head moving forward in the backswing. This causes the body to move into a plane of motion (sagittal plane, forward, and backward movements) that is a swing wrecker. This flexibility issue can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle and modern living. My advice is to allow the head to move somewhat sideways in the backswing (frontal plane) if you suffer from a lack of flexibility, but at all times, you should be able to keep your eye on the ball! 

🤥 Stay connected throughout the swing. 🤥

If you wish to kill your swing speed and hit the ball shorter, enter the words “stay connected in the golf swing” on YouTube. Every snake oil salesman is lined up with “expert” advice on staying connected. This is a YouTube at its best and why most amateur golfers fail to improve, take a statement that contains logic and turn it into a “fake news” story. Staying connected in the golf swing is essential but not at the expense of already sub-standard swing speed. For most amateur golfers, pinning your lead arm to your chest (right-handers) on the downswing kills swing speed. The reality in 3D now shows that top professionals move the lead arm OFF the chest on the downswing. It was just not possible to see this with video. A nice image I use with my students is to imagine the arms go up in the backswing while the torso does the turning. Too many amateur golfers attempt to turn the club around their body using their hands.

🤥 Push up with your lead foot through impact. 🤥

This is just so wrong on so many levels. A host of top professionals coin this exact phrase when asked how they feel they create power in their swings. They might FEEL this, but it is produced elsewhere in the swing. The thrusting motion that generates so much power in the swing comes from the transition period. Again, 3D technology shows some lateral movement from the top with professionals already shifting a lot of their center of pressure (not weight) to the lead side at lead arm parallel to the ground. The ground then acts in accordance with Newton’s third law, and it pushes the lead foot back up. Yes, you have read that correctly, an inanimate object does the pushing. Tell an amateur to push up with the lead foot, and they spend the day thinning the ball. Finally, when assessing the power source in a golf swing, I like to divide my students into three buckets, thrusters, lateral, and rotational. Most middle-aged amateurs are trying to bring a power source they don’t own to the party, pushing up with the lead foot through impact, just because Rory feels like that, is like that unicorn on corticosteroids.

🤥 Impact ~ Tilt v Thrust. 🤥

I left the best till last. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons I see that amateur golfers fail to improve at golf. They do not understand this statement, they understand the words but not the how and why? It is the biggest single difference between the weekend warrior and the professional player. Professional players load the club using rotation around a stable but dynamic base, their transition from the top creates forces in the swing that allows them to use the ground to create a thrusting motion which acts as a stabilizer to allow the rotational movement to execute efficiently. In some cases, the forces created are so great that the player reverses back through impact (Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed). Our intrepid amateur tends to stall through impact and tilt the lead shoulder up in the air (especially with the driver) in the mistaken belief that this will help them achieve a positive launch angle. Cue the pandora’s box that is golf, the lead shoulder, as an image, travels “down and around” not up through impact! 


Puzzles fret me, puzzles annoy me, puzzles exasperate me.Mark Twain.
Get a competent coach, use word of mouth, nothing more, nothing less.

Thank you for taking the time to read! It is appreciated. Follow our Ryder Cup Captain at our dedicated Ryder Cup page and over at his website. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for my FREE monthly digital magazine. Finally, you also have a chance to win a dozen Titleist Pro V1’s each & every month. Tadhg.


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