Top 3 Tips on Triggering the Downswing
The downswing in golf is likely the most natural move in the swing. Everything from the basic fundamentals including the grip, alignment, posture, ball position right up to the start of the backswing can be controlled by the individual. The downswing is where some athleticism and gravity take over and with the combination of proper fundamentals can produce extra length and accuracy.
The following tips will help assist in the triggering of the downswing to ensure it remains an athletic yet natural movement.
Tour players have the best tempo in their golf swings. Tempo is not about swinging the club slowly or the same speed throughout. It’s actually the opposite. When we see most avid golfers working on their tempo, they’re attempting to swing the club at a similar speed from start to finish. However, when a golfer swings with good tempo we should see a serious increase in speed from takeaway to impact. The preferred timing of a golf swing from backswing to downswing should be a ratio or difference of 3 to 1. Ideally, perfect tempo should be a count of three on the backswing compared to a count of one on the downswing.
A great drill in your practice sessions and even as part of your pre-shot routine while playing, is to adopt the conscious effort to make a count of 1-2-3 on the backswing and a count of 1 on the downswing. In your practice sessions, we would encourage you to take ten golf balls with a sand wedge, ten balls with a 7 iron and ten balls with your driver. Hit each set of balls with the appropriate club and make the count. If you’re working with a coach or friend have them count out loud and try to get in sync with the timing. While playing, we would suggest that on every full shot practice swing that you make the count. This perfect tempo and timing triggers the downswing with minimal thought and creates consistent ball striking.
Unlike the backswing where we want to create and maintain our width. The downswing is the opposite as we like to see the creation of lag. In the downswing, lag is simply ensuring that the hands stay in front of the club’s shaft. How do we create this lag? It’s the same process that’s seen in using a bull whip or the action of snapping a towel. The best players in the world all have great sequence to their golf swings and in slow motion it looks like the club is moving effortlessly. Biomechanics of a golf swing can be confusing but all the top golfers have a great winding and unwinding of their bodies and the club just goes along for the ride like a whip.
The best way to learn the feeling of lag in a golf swing and understand a little bit of biomechanics is the Towel Snap drill. Take a regular beach towel and roll it up. Then you will get some packing tape or duct tape and tape it up in five or six spots so it stays rolled up. You will then get into your golf posture and take an end of the towel in each hand. You will make a swing and attempt to release the towel out of your right hand (left hand for left handed golfers) at impact. The idea is to have the towel snap or drop onto the golf ball. If the towel hits before the golf ball, this signals an early release. If the towel doesn’t make contact with the ball or goes directly over the top, you have come out of your dynamic posture. This is a great sequencing drill and can dramatically improve your transition from backswing to downswing.
The downswing is a natural movement and one that takes less than a second. From the time we take the club away right to the finish, it should be thoughtless. The top professionals are thoughtless when playing golf or at the very most they have one key swing thought. A good pre-shot routine is where constructive thoughts should happen regarding the task at hand. Once we begin the swing, our only thought should be focused on the target.
A great thought process to develop prior to hitting a shot is to ensure you finish at the target. Once we start the swing and focus on getting our body to finish at our target, it creates a smooth transition from backswing to downswing to finish.
Tips to finishing the golf swing at our target include:
1. Having our right shoulder (left shoulder for left handed golfers) rotate and point at the target in our finish position
2. Center of our chest is facing the target in our finish position
3. Belt Buckle is facing the target in our finish position