This is the 3rd part of the "Feel of the Club Head" series of articles. I managed to make this entry less than 24 hours before my wedding. I will try to publish the last part after the wedding (on the weekend), but before going on holidays.
So much for one end of the feel of the club head!
What about the other end, the force-center?
This is obviously a difficult feel to fix, and the best way I have found is by making the pupil stand in the imaginary barrel described in the entry about the "Golf Swing."
You will remember that swinging in this barrel gives him the feeling of keeping his hips up; at the same time he must now stretch down (even when his hands are up chest high).
Because the body is braced, there will no longer be any tendency for the knees to sag in towards one another; they will roll round at a constant height as he pivots and this is a very essential feel in the back swing.
Now we are building up so that you will shortly be able to feel your force-center, but first another word or two about the hips. The feel of holding them up that you get through the barrel image is a good one.
So is the sort of hip brace you can get by pulling your hips in as you walk. I often tell pupils to do this. You get the feeling of holding your hips firmly together and that they no longer sag or dip first to the right and then to the left.
The good golf swing is based on a pivot with the minimum of to-and-fro movement.
Both hips and shoulders are held up and braced, and they move in the same circular path-except that the turn of the body slightly inclines the shoulders as they go round.
Now if you stand before an imaginary ball, holding an imaginary club, with your arms stretched down but held lightly (with little tension, I mean) as if you were ready to play a shot, and then turn first right and then left, rather briskly and getting the movement from the knees, calves, and feet, you will begin to feel the pull on your arms from the force-center.
The power is largely produced by the feet and legs, but it is the force-center (somewhere in the pit of the back) which collects it and is responsible for its transfer to the arms and then out to the club head.
Now take a mashie and do very short swings to and fro with it.
Soon you will begin to detect the center which you will feel controls both the setting up of power and the guiding of the club. Do not break the wrists or lift the club head during this experiment.
The hands do nothing but keep the club straight out in front of you; let the arms feel supple and yet pushed down as the club head is down, while all the time you are moving to and fro from the legs.
You begin to feel connected right through, from legs to center and from center to club head.
Though you make this experiment first with a mashie (that being an easy club to feel), the full drive is simply a big edition of the same movement and must be just as connected.
What I think you will find different in this braced pivot movement as compared with an uncontrolled swing is this: as your hips turn without sag, you will feel you are getting more power and getting it in a different way.
You develop rotary power, largely from the legs.
This is what I want you to feel, because, when you feel it, you may know that you have got your nether regions well fixed in space.
Now we have to find a similar fixing for the shoulders, to control their position and direction of movement.
How should they be held at the address and what is their movement?
You have to incline them forward slightly as you address the ball, but see that it is only slightly, only as little as your build makes necessary. And keep them both up; especially keep the left shoulder up as you go back and the right shoulder up as you come through.
Just as the barrel has made your hips turn horizontally, with no sway, so should your shoulders feel that they turn horizontally. You can if you wish imagine a hoop from the barrel holding them in place.
They will swing freely in this without touching it, but in a slightly inclined plane because of the forward bend of the body.
But my own method of fixing the shoulders is different.
It is to feel that there is a direct connection between the left heel and the right shoulder, a diagonal tie that keeps them connected and at an unvarying distance one from the other, as we go up, as we come down, and as we follow through.
This is a difficult connection to describe, but once you have grasped its full meaning you will realize its value.
As we lift our left heel-going back-we will (if the tie is properly realized) feel our right shoulder move back in response.
The shoulder and heel keep their distance, never getting closer or farther away; so when the left heel comes down, we will feel the right shoulder moving forward in a straight line against the ball-neither dipping under it nor rising over it. This is right.
The right shoulder should never feel to dip under the ball, though it should be felt to go down to it.
As we can see when we look at the "flickers" it is true that the right shoulder is lower than the left as we strike the ball, but so it is at the address-and there must be no more feel of it being lower at the moment of impact than there is at the address.
In fact the feel of the shoulder movement in a correctly braced swing is that the shoulders move round parallel to the ground.
Now when you have got this diagonal tie working and can give a peep at it and at your hip brace at the same time, you will feel properly compact and centered as you swing. And it is only when you feel yourself to be centered that you can hope to feel the club head as you should.
Please remember that all this discussion of brace and connections is relative to the feel of the club head.
As I told you, you can only get this feel reliably at your force-center, and unless you build up a force-center by brace and connections, you will not feel it properly at all.
For in the uncontrolled natural swing there is no force-center; that primarily is what is the matter with such a swing: too many separate forces are working independently in it.