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The Golf Backswing Part 5
This is the last part of the golf backswing section of Golf Swing Magic.
Assuming you read part 4, what are your thoughts about the way to incorporate the early wrist break into your golf swing?
Heretical, you say? Of course it is. Awkward and uncomfortable? Oh, yes, indeed. But you want to break 80, don't you, or 90, or whatever goal you have set for yourself?
Then stick with it. Hit some balls with it, being sure your execution is right, before you condemn it.
Meanwhile, look what it has done for your swing already: The club head has been started almost straight back from the ball, as it should be. The club face has been kept square, as it must be if you are going to play better golf.
The hip slide has moved much of your weight over to the right leg, where it must go, and your hips are now turning somewhat. Your right elbow has been automatically brought in against your side, starting you on a tight, controlled arc.
The wrist break at the same time has started the swing in a plane that will prove to be ideal, neither too upright nor too flat.
The shoulders have begun to turn and to tilt just a little, with the left going down slightly, and the right coming up. And, perhaps most important of all, your hands and wrists are set early in exactly the position they must be in.
All this adds up to the fact that although the backswing has progressed only about a third of its distance, you already are locked into actions which will bring you to the top in perfect position.
Your next questions, without a doubt, are going to be: Why is this first move so important, and why does it do what it does?
To answer these we will have to go back quite a few years in the theories of golf technique. Back in the 1930s there was one accepted method of hitting a golf ball. That was with an open face and with a late wrist break.
Those were the points the teaching pros taught then — the face should be opened on the backswing, should be open at the top, and should be closed to a square position on the downswing as the ball was hit.
The natural way to get the open face at the top was with a late wrist break.
The break never should be started before the hands were waist high. In fact, many taught that you should pay no attention whatever to breaking the wrists; they would break by themselves.
This is the way Vardon, Jones, Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, and most of the others hit the ball. There were exceptions, such as Craig Wood, who won the National Open in 1941, and Lawson Little, who won the Open in 1940 and the American and British Amateur championships twice each, in successive years.
Shut-face hitters, both were looked upon as heretics.
After World War II, with competition on the American professional circuit getting ever keener, with ever more money at stake, the pros began to make changes here and there, tinkering with the swing, both for accuracy and for distance. Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, and Ben Hogan made alterations. Then the younger group came along, Arnold Palmer, Bill Casper, and others. They made more.
In 1958 one of the girl pros, Betty Hicks, quoted another pro, Helen Dettweiler, as saying that the men were not practicing what they preached. The men urged their pupils, she said, to sweep the club head low away from the ball and delay the wrist cock until the hands were hip high. But the men themselves, she observed, were with few exceptions starting their wrist cock at the beginning of the backswing, and she offered to produce movies to prove it.
In 1961 the great little West Coast phenomenon and 1961 PGA champion, Jerry Barber, described how he starts his wrist break even earlier—right off the forward press. Sequence pictures showed him doing exactly that. He has the break completed, he said (and again the pictures prove it), by the time his hands are hip high.
It is also noticeable in their pictures that both Palmer and Casper have theclub face in a relatively closed position at the top of the swing, not completely shut but closed at least 45 degrees. So do several others, including Wes Ellis, former Canadian, Metropolitan, and Texas Open champion. All are striving for what they consider a square face at the top. With it they know they will bring it square to the line at impact without any manipulation on the downswing.
This is something the old-timers had trouble with. Being open at the top, they had to manipulate the club on the way down.
Usually they succeeded; quite often they didn't. But that is one reason, we believe, why the modern pros are much more consistent, as well as longer, than their predecessors of thirty years ago.
All of which is background for the action taught in this book. The backward wrist break gives you the square po¬sition so necessary for accuracy. The immediate wrist break locks you in the square position early.
So the first flaws that spoil a golf swing have been uncovered. You know what they are and the horrible shots they cause. More to the point, you have been given the first of the magic moves that will improve your golf swing, eliminate those bad shots, and put you on the road to better golf and lower scores.
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