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Left Side Control to Establish "Square Swing"

By: Bob Burns

Golf Professional

Many golfers never give themselves a chance to make a good swing because, in setting up to the ball, they move the entire right side into a dominant position. 

The right hand clutches the club too powerfully and sets the right arm and shoulder higher than the left. This encourages the right hander's natural tendency to lift the club with their right hand and arm during the back swing, and restricting his shoulder turn, thus throwing the club outside the target line on the downswing. 

In the modern method of the square swing, the right hand should be relaxed and submissive to the left side, which is firmly in control. The method itself is presented in a total concept involving such areas as the grip, set-up positioning, exercises, and aids to learning, as well as the swing itself. The square method is designed to produce consistent, shot-making excellence with a swing based on economy and simplicity of movement through left side control dominance. 

It stresses:

-Minimization of hand and wrist manipulation during the swing;

-Full turning of the upper body on a relatively upright plane; minimal hip turn during the take away and back swing; Smooth but forceful leg action during the downswing;

-Domination by the normally weaker left hand, arm, and side over the normally stronger right side (vice-versa for left handers).

The essence of the golf swing is to bring the club head squarely on the intended line (flight path) through the ball, with maximum club head speed at impact. The square method is accomplished in the following way;

1) Set up and alignment: Set-up position must be conducive for the square swing. Set up and alignment are two of the most important points of the modern golf swing. Alignment to the target will predetermine the use of the body in the golf swing. 

The feet, knees, hips, and shoulders should be aligned parallel to the intended line of flight. 

2) Posture: The knees are flexed as if the person were about to sit on a stool. The arms hang straight down from the shoulders rather than outward. The right arm is relaxed and under at address so that the right side may be submissive to the left during the back swing and therefore, throughout the entire swing. Since the left hand is higher than the right on the grip, the left shoulder must be higher than the right at address. 

The degree that a person bends from the waist, so long as the back remains relatively straight, will determine the amount of shoulder turn the person will promote during the swing. The amount that a golfer bends forward at the waist also influences their swing plane. Making a full shoulder turn on the back swing can help produce maximum shooting distance with greater consistency. 

3.) Arms: Golfers have always been told that the left arm must be straight in order to generate any sort of power in the swing. Often, they have not been told why: Without a straight left arm, it is what is known as the "power arc." The arm position determines the length and path of the club head arc and, if the left arm is bent excessively, the club cannot be pulled through on an inside-out plane because the right arm will take over and force the club outside. The arm need not be perfectly rigid, but it must be relatively straight in order to keep the left side firm.


It may also be a surprise to many golfers that the "golf muscles" in the arms are not the biceps. The key muscles are those on the underside of the forearm. Grip pressure should be emphasized in the last three fingers of the left hand. The last three fingers are connected to the interflexor muscles on the inside of the left forearm. When properly applied, this pressure will cause muscles to bunch on the underside of the forearm. To demonstrate this, squeeze the club with the last three fingers of the left hand and watch these muscles contract. The squeezing of these fingers stabilizes the left hand and forearm. It also enables the player to have the hands ahead of the club head through the impact area. 

Bunching on the upper side of the forearm indicates too much pressure in the thumb and forefinger. The thumb and forefinger of the left hand, and all fingers of the right hand, should grip only enough to hold onto the club. Too much pressure in the grip of the right hand will cause the right arm and shoulder muscles to tighten. Such tightening greatly restricts the ability to make a full shoulder turn on a sufficiently upright plane. 

Right-hand pressure also causes the right side to take over on the back swing. This causes a premature lifting of the club head, which shortens and flattens the swing. The left side, with the last three fingers of the left hand dominating the grip, should be responsible for moving the club head back and up on the back swing. 

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