Tom Tucker teaches all aspects of the golf game at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility in Batavia. Tom may be found online at http://www.TomTuckerGolf.com
I am currently teaching a student that was ready to quit the game because his back
was giving him so much trouble. He has some fused discs, and a traditional swing
produced a lot of pain.
In order to develop a pain free swing for him, I had to break a few cardinal rules of
traditional swing method instruction.
I thought I’d offer a glimpse of what we are working on, for those of you that experience
an inordinate amount of back pain during or after a round.
I suppose this is the time when I should say don’t try this if you have a bad back unless
your doctor approves, so there – it’s been said.
The challenge is to develop a swing that allows the hips and shoulders to turn simultaneously
without producing torque between your core and your shoulders, which is the opposite of
what I usually teach. Then some compensating movement has to be developed to try to
get as much swing speed as possible without the usual coiling.
First of all, to get some swing speed, the swing needs to be as long as possible.
This means allowing the left heel to come off the ground in the takeaway and
backswing, and a wide lateral weight shift.
At the top of the swing, I actually encourage the student to allow both elbows to break,
to allow for more swing length and more centrifugal force generation at the ball.
The student understands that the left arm still needs to get straight prior to impact.
Next comes a long lateral weight shift to the forward leg, then a rotation of the core and
shoulders together, pulling the arms, and shaft down through impact with a release
that I teach called a “buggy whip” release.
This is followed by a full finish with your hips turned towards the target, with your shoulders
at the same forward facing angle as your hips. Your arms fold over your shoulder in
a mirror image of that position in the backswing, your back foot is up on the toe, your back
is straight, and all your weight is on your forward foot.
* If I were to overemphasize anything, it would be the full finish as described above.
Most players with back pain gravitate to an all arms swing, thinking that it will reduce strain
on their back. In reality, that causes pain because the shoulders torque against the hips
when a full follow through is inhibited, usually aggravating the problem you want relief from!
Throughout the swing you’re arms need to feel connected, and also feel like they are staying
in front of your chest.
There are some potential issues with casting, but there are drills that can nip
that in the bud.
Timing of everything is a bit more critical than with other swing methods, because
this method has a lot of moving parts. But to someone with back pain, it’s worth the extra
effort to be able to still play the game they once used to love – pain free.
After the first lesson, it was very gratifying to hear the student say that he was enthused
about playing again, and that most importantly – his back wasn’t hurting. He hit some
excellent shots, and some poor ones also – which is normal when you are learning
something so different from what you had been doing.
Repetitions will cure that problem.
In golf, if there’s a will there’s usually a way – but sometimes it follows an unconventional
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