by Carol-Ann Campbell, LPGA Teaching Professional
Like any other athletic move, the golf swing is best executed when done so with good balance. I’ve often told my students that the only thing they will do well without good balance is fall over.
I quickly gained an appreciation for this when working with students with disabilities. There are many conditions that affect one’s balance, and golfers who suffer from one of them almost always compensate somewhere in their golf swing. This compensation, whether it be a wider stance, shorter swing or abbreviated follow through, is necessary in order to make the best motion possible while maintaining as much balance as possible.
Most golfers who do not maintain good balance throughout the swing don’t have a physical condition, rather a misconception about the golf swing. By way of explanation let’s break the swing down into three parts: set-up, in-swing and finish. This will allow you to se why balance is so important to a good swing motion.
A Balanced Set-Up
When setting up to the ball with good golf posture I often explain to my students how to get into an “athletic” position. Like a goalie awaiting a breakaway shot or a shortstop prepared to scoop the next infield hit, this requires a balanced “ready” set-up. As a golfer about to execute a solid golf shot we want to put ourselves in that same mode, prepared from a static set-up position to turn behind the ball with our torso than through the ball to a full high finish, maintaining balance throughout.
To check your position at set-up, be conscience of how your weight is distributed when you tilt from the pelvis to put your club behind the ball. A good neutral position sets your weight toward the balls of your feet, evenly distributed between target leg and back leg favouring slightly more weight toward the inside of your feet and legs. Too much weight towards your toes or your heels will force compensation somewhere in your swing to maintain your balance.
Many students who have difficulty controlling their balance through to a good finish position misconceive how power is generated in the golf swing. Very simply, they swing either too fast or try too hard, putting too much effort into the motion. Although women golfers tend to be less prone to this, (having spent years on a public range I can attest to an apparent correlation between testosterone levels and lack of balance) some are still challenged to maintain good balance while swinging. Here’s where the phrase “swing within yourself” is appropriate. An easy test to check your balance is to try a few shots with your feet together (more experienced golfers can even try swinging on one foot). Now try to make a full swing. Gradually widen your stance until you can make a full swing, in balance, with proper transfer of weight behind the ball, then through the ball to finish.
A Balanced Finish
A good balanced finish not only looks great, it is very important to proper execution of a golf shot. Once the golf ball leaves the club your job is not done. Check your position after your shot by holding your finish position. Are you able to keep your balance, fully rotated so that your chest, hips and back leg face the target? Is most of your weight on the outside of your target foot? If so you have a good balanced finish. If not, you will need to examine why you aren’t getting to that position.
Balance is key to any athletic move with golf being no exception. With poor balance a golfer will be forced to make compensating motions somewhere in the swing. The more compensations in the swing, the more complex the motion, the greater the likelihood for inconsistency. Setting up, swinging and finishing in balance gives you a much better opportunity to strike the ball well on a more regular basis