What happens when an Engineer takes up Golf? Lines and Angles. Force and Torque. And an Invention.
I took up golf in 2011 immediately after I took a sabbatical from my corporate career. I asked myself the question: If I had all the time and money that I needed, what would I choose to do? It was thus that I decided to follow my heart and took up two passions – writing and golf. I began to study the art and science of writing and, likewise, the art and science of golf. I made steady progress in writing, but the same progress eluded me in golf. The golf lessons I took left me completely confused. I would address the ball with a squared-shoulder, squared-hip and squared-feet stance and be completely clueless as to what to do next. The coaches politely declined to get into details about the science of the golf swing. Golf is a simple matter, they said, why make it complicated? Either they did not know, or didn’t want to share. Either way, I found myself at a dead end. My hacking on the golf course was unacceptable – I had to do something about it. And it was thus that I went deep into the rabbit hole of golf swing mechanics and bio-mechanics.
For six years, I researched, explored and experimented every which way I could. It was Homer Kelley’s book The Golfing Machine that gave me the initial direction. I discovered the secrets of golf one at a time, but the breakthrough that enabled everything to fall in place was my discovery of the precise and quantifiable nature of body rotation enabled by lower body joints. This has never been published before in any golf or medical journal.
My course of study was like pursuing B.Tech., M.Tech and PhD all at the same time. B.Tech was finding my own swing. M.Tech was understanding in detail all the different types of swings. PhD was decoding the greatest swing of all time – the Secret of Ben Hogan’s Perfect and Automatic Swing. My thesis on the Hogan swing was published in the book ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Hogan: The Sixth Lesson’ in October 2016. It is my dream that, someday in the future, a forward thinking University will recognize and accept my composite body of work as the basis for conferring a PhD (By Prior Publication) degree!
I dedicate the research findings published here to Homer Kelley: the ‘mad genius’ who spent forty years researching the golf swing. The content is technical and follows the scientific terminology of The Golfing Machine (TGM). Anyone one who has a passing familiarity with TGM concepts and terminology can make sense out of it. I recommend that such a reader go through these posts in reverse chronological order – from oldest to latest.
I have resumed my corporate career since the completion of this research project, but I continue to be a passionate student of golf. It will be my future endeavor to share with you a step-by-step implementation of the technically Perfect and practically Easy Swing. The steps will include the setup (stance and ball position), address, backswing, transition and downswing. The treatment will include both mechanics and feel. The Perfect and Easy swing is a swing geometry and method that I have arrived at after rigorous theoretical study and extensive practice. The blueprint of the Perfect and Easy Swing is available here.
All the major findings of my six year research project (2011-17) are summarized here. Below is a navigation guide that links topic to date. This is in reverse chronological order. To view a topic, click on the corresponding date link on the right sidebar under ‘Archives’.
Oct 2016: Crouching Tiger Hidden Hogan: The Sixth Lesson
Nov 2016: The Problem with Modern Golf Instruction
Dec 2016: Body Rotation: The Breakthrough Discovery
Jan 2017: Ben Hogan and Homer Kelley
Feb 2017: Hand Path-Body Turn Diagram
Mar 2017: Swinging Left, Right and Down the Line
Apr 2017: Three Common Swing Geometries
May 2017: Two Connected Swing Geometries
Jun 2017: The Ben Hogan Swing
Jul 2017: The Body Swing Golfing Machine
Aug 2017: Comparing Moe Norman and Ben Hogan
Sep 2017: Blueprint of the Perfect and Easy Swing
After six years of intensive study and research and hitting hundreds of balls daily, I have independently arrived at the technically Perfect and practically Easy Swing. It also happens to be similar to Moe Norman’s swing; the fundamentals are the same. Aesthetic considerations have been disregarded; ‘purity of technique’ (Moe Norman quote) is the aspiration. This information applies directly to right handed golfers; left-handed golfers need to reverse the context. Here is the blueprint:
- The Perfect and Easy Swing (for right handed golfers) is a ‘Swing Down The Line’ that uses a Connected Swing Geometry and whose extension (E) is down the intended direction of the initial ball-flight. In almost all cases, this direction is also the target line except for specialty shots like the deliberate draw or fade.
- This swing uses Stable Release, Right Elbow connection to the Right Side and Second Order Stacking. In TGM terms, this is Angular Hinging and Punch Elbow.
- This swing uses 45 degrees of lower body (hips) rotation and 45 degrees of upper body rotation (shoulders) for a total body rotation of 90 degrees.
- Single Plane and bi-directional swing – hand path and club-head paths are identical in both the backswing and forward swing. Moe Norman again. More specifically, the hand path and club-head path from address to top of backswing is identical to the hand path and club-face path from start of downswing to impact with just the direction reversed. A bi-directional swing is fully described by its Hand Path Body Turn diagram, which in this case is curvilinear like a hockey stick.
- Unconventional Address Position – built around impact fix position. Moe Norman once again. Hips pre-turned at address by stacking of ankle and knee joints (second order stacking) in the right leg, according to the pre-determined lower body rotation of 45 degrees. Once the hip pre-turn is made, it is fixed and kept locked throughout the backswing. This keeps the lower body quiet in the backswing and allows exclusive monitoring of the hands.
- Constant ball position at center of stance for all clubs.
- Pivot Controlled Hands in the backswing and Hands Controlled Pivot in the downswing. Hands Controlled Pivot in the downswing increases precision and accuracy. Pivot Controlled Hands in the backswing helps to make a complete shoulder turn.
- The backswing is initiated by making a counter-clockwise and centered shoulder turn while keeping the Right Forearm in Punch orientation and the Right Elbow as close to the body as possible. This is shown in in image (B). This takes the hands deeper inside and shallows out the arm-lift. It also keeps the club-head longer on the circle of the Right Forearm and square to the path (Angular Hinging).
- A useful variation is to initiate the backswing by cocking the wrists with the Right Hand using the Right Elbow connection as a lever. This connects the Right Elbow to the right side as shown in image (A). The connected triangle is then rotated as a whole by a centered shoulder rotation while maintaining the right elbow connection as long as possible. This creates an early wrist cock and gives an early sense of ‘handle down’.
- Automatic Snap Release with the club handle accelerated by longitudinal Right Forearm thrust (F) against the resistance of the ground and in a straight line towards an Aiming Point on the Line of Compression (LOC), which is oriented at an angle of 22.5 degrees right of the target line. The longitudinal acceleration of the club handle (rope handle technique in TGM) is what Moe Norman described as “swing the handle, not the club-head”. The location of the Aiming Point can be determined at address by cocking the wrists with the left thumb such that the handle points downwards. The Aiming Point is the spot on the LOC that the handle points to when this is done.
- The Downswing is done with the Right Side (Right Forearm). The Transition therefore involves a change of direction and of motive power. The downswing is triggered by Right Forearm pull once the Left Shoulder comes under the chin and the entire Left Arm is aligned along the Line of Compression.
- Head, sternum and eyes on the aiming point in both backswing and downswing.
- Actively powered by longitudinal Right Forearm Thrust (F) in a Pulling motion towards the Aiming Point on the Line of Compression. In TGM terms, this is Swinging and Drag Loading, even thought it uses Angular Hinging and is powered by the Right Forearm (“Everything else pulls, only the right forearm can either push or pull” – Homer Kelley). It is still the Left Arm Flying Wedge (LAFW) that finds the ball though its passive motion is powered by the right forearm.
- Here’s the technical reason why I picked this swing as the Perfect and Easy Swing. It has the optimal balance of arm action and body rotation. It is neither “too-armsy” nor “too-turny”. The extension is straight down the line – because the left arm is not pulling the hands right (and away from the target line) and the right forearm is not pushing the hands left (and away from the target line). This is why the resultant ball flight is a dead straight trajectory. The purity of contact is unmistakable. This is Moe Norman’s Secret and the reason why he claimed with absolute confidence to be the world’s greatest ball striker.
- Incidentally, Moe Norman described his swing as a pendulum swing. It is actually neither a linear swing nor a circular swing. Rather it is a curvilinear swing. But the hands can still be thrust in a straight line (F) to an Aiming Point on the Line of Compression. The Hand Path is co-incident with the Line of Compression in the initial and linear part of the downswing before “it turns the corner”. The hands automatically turn the corner once they run out of “straight line” and circle into impact and extend (E) down the line.
“Swing the handle, not the head” – Moe Norman
“Yes, the Golfing Machine; he has it figured out” – Moe Norman on Homer Kelley
Moe Norman’s swing is presented here as a contrast to Ben Hogan’s swing. It is an interesting exercise to compare their Hand Path-Body Turn diagrams because the two are widely regarded as the greatest ball strikers in golf. The two swings do have one thing in common which may well be their common secret of ball-striking greatness: the radius of the circular portion of the Hand Path-Body Turn diagram is defined by the Connected Right Forearm. In TGM terms, this common connected right forearm action is Angular Hinging.
Moe used a single plane approach while Hogan had a more orthodox setup. Moe used an extra wide stance to prevent his hips from spinning out because his swing required just two degrees of stacking and not three as in Hogan’s swing. Moe’s swing was designed to keep the lower body quiet. Hogan designed his to keep the upper body quiet.
In Hogan’s backswing, it is the stacking of the right hip-joint (Third Order of Stacking) that sustains the circular path and flattens the swing plane. In Moe’s backswing the hands are allowed to elevate by vertical left-arm action into a higher position at the top. In Moe, the arms are active and used for thrusting. In Hogan, the arms are passive. In Moe, longitudinal acceleration (along the handle) is actively applied at start-down in a Snap Release action by leveraging against the pivot. In Hogan, longitudinal acceleration is applied passively by the pivot using natural pronation and supination. Moe’s extension is down the line while Hogan’s is to the left. Moe uses Punch Elbow and Second Order Stacking while Hogan uses Pitch Elbow and Third Order Stacking.
Hogan’s swing is the finest example of Pivot Controlled Hands and the Circle of Compression. Moe’s swing is the finest example of Hands Controlled Pivot and the Line of Compression.
Not a single player on the PGA tour today swings like Ben Hogan, although most of them want to. Now that Hogan’s Secret has been fully decoded, it is my humble assertion and prediction that soon you will begin to see the Hogan swing in action on the PGA Tour. It will happen not because I say so, but because it is the most powerful, accurate and repeatable swing in golf.
The Body Swing Golfing Machine is the only theoretical and physical model that corroborates everything that the Master wrote and said and did. It can be readily seen from the physical model that: (i) the arms and hands are always in sync with the body rotation and (ii) it is the right forearm (and not the left arm) that is on plane.
The Body Swing Golfing Machine & Methods (patent pending) is a comprehensive tutorial system. It consists of (i) an operational model of the machine designed to demonstrate the concept and execution of the body-driven golf swing and (ii) a teacher manual designed to run a non-technical golfer through the steps of implementation, error diagnosis and correction.
The invention consists of a machine that simulates the body-driven golf swing and a set of methods which emanate from the principle, attributes and motion of the machine. The machine and methods together form a comprehensive golf simulation system to teach a golfer to perform the body-driven golf swing in order to strike a golf ball with power, precision and consistency. The machine consists of upper cylinder, lower cylinder and longer and shorter rods that causes a hinged chuck to rotate on an inclined-plane surface perpendicular to the axis of rotation. The motion of the machine is driven by a reactive power element that simulates a resistance based body-driven swing. The set of methods enable a golfer to emulate the motion of the machine and create alignments and torque by exploiting natural angles and structure of human anatomy.
For more details see the patent application here.
“Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing.” – Ben Hogan
Ben Hogan’s unique swing was made possible by his discovery of the relationship between shoulder rotation and the joints in the lower body: the ankle, knee and hip joints. His great achievement was the invention of a unique and circular swing geometry in which the the hands are always in complete sync with the rotation of the body. This can be readily seen from the Hand Path Body Turn Diagram of his forward swing.
The Hogan Swing is the finest example of Pivot Controlled Hands, where the body rotation is monitored instead of the hands. The Hogan Swing uses the circle of the Right Forearm with Third Order Stacking.
The Hogan Swing is the only one that can be done with Pivot Controlled Hands without causing a Flip Release because it is the only swing geometry where the arms and hands are always in sync with the rotation of the body. Logically, and consequently therefore, it is also the only swing geometry where the hands cannot be directed in a straight line thrust towards an Aiming Point on the Line of Compression.