The Ball Has Already Been Hit…Why Is The Finish So Important?
I often hear from students: “The ball has already been hit…how could the finish be so important?”
In this video segment I will show you how the sustained rotation of the left shoulder into the finish is so critical to the clubhead squaring off and producing a powerful blow at impact. Many believe that to strike a really great golf shot, the grip should magically return to its original address position. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Studying the movement of the butt-end of the grip during the latter part of the downswing and through impact is revealing. The butt-end of the grip undergoes a sharp upward and leftward movement through impact, and this requires that the left shoulder also move upward. The sustained rotation of the left shoulder is critical to squaring off the clubface at impact. The beauty is you don’t have to think about pulling the grip up through impact. Swinging to a properly architected and balanced finish is the most simple and best means to keep the left shoulder to moving upward and rearward. I’ll show you how to build a balanced finish in the next video below (A checklist for the five key finish alignments).
Above is a face-on slow motion video of Ben Hogan where I trace two points of motion: the first is the butt-end of the grip, and the second is movement of the left shoulder. The motion from these two points will be traced throughout the entire swing where the line trace in green shows movement during the backswing while the trace in blue shows movement during the downswing. A line which connects the left shoulder to the butt end of the grip is shown in green at address, and in blue at impact.
There is something I’m anxious to show you. As the hands come downward into impact, the butt-end of the grip moves well below the original level that it started out at address. It continues to move underneath the original position until impact is reached. Just prior to impact, the grip is nearly 3 inches under the original address position and the shaft is still way back at a right angle relative to the vertical shaft position at address. You should be wondering at this point, how in the world is this clubshaft going to square-off from here?
The shaft and clubface are able to square off because the butt-end of the club, at just the last millisecond, is going to be pulled sharply upward through impact. The fulcrum of the club movement prior to impact is not at the butt-end of the club. It’s actually a few inches below the right hand nearer to where the grip meets the shaft. The clubshaft and clubface square themselves through both the upward pulling of the grip and the leveraging of the grip near this fulcrum point.
At impact, notice how the butt-end of the club has almost climbed back to its original height at address. It has also moved leftward ahead of its original address position by a good 8-10 inches. This leftward movement gives the rotating shaft a little extra time to square up as well as de-lofting the clubface at impact. Notice also how the clubhead strikes the ball while the butt-end of the club is directly under the left shoulder.
Now let’s go back to the downswing take a closer look at the movement of the left shoulder. Here’s a surprise: the left shoulder moves upward very early in the downswing. It is an axiom that two opposite ends of any rotating motion must move opposite one another. So as the body rotates into the downswing, the hands move opposite the left shoulder. The left shoulder first moves laterally, but then as the hands reach mid-downswing, the shoulder begins to move upward, turbo-charging the movement of the hands. The butt-end of the grip then reaches a low point, and after that low point, the grip begins to move upward. The rising left shoulder not only pulls the grip upward, but once impact has been reached, the left shoulder is now moving away from the target. This movement of the left shoulder away from the target causes the butt-end of the grip to climb even more sharply upward at almost a 45*
So, is this upward pulling of the butt-end of the grip something we have to actively think about? The answer is NO! The upward movement of the grip takes care of itself automatically by sustaining your shoulder rotation all the way to the finish. The key to sustaining your shoulder rotation is developing a well-architected and balanced finish. From the top of the backswing, you can then just swing through to a balanced finish, and let the ball just get in the way.
While we’re here I want to point out two other things. First, notice at impact Hogan’s grip is still centered within his pelvis, the same relative position it was at address. So you don’t need to do anything special with your hands to get them further left of your body at impact. The turning and leftward shift of the hips will take care of that.
Second, notice how Hogan releases his eyesight after impact, picking up the ball in flight almost immediately. All good ball strikers release their eyes immediately after impact. This helps sustain their shoulder rotation into the finish. Keeping the head down after impact will interfere with the proper rotation of the left shoulder. Keeping your head down might be good advice on the backswing, but it is terrible advice for the follow through.
A Five-Point Checklist to Make Sure You have a Perfectly Balanced Finish
In my previous video on Why the Finish Matters, I established that it’s the upward pulling of the butt-end of the club by the left shoulder that causes the clubshaft and clubface to square off at impact. So it’s imperative that the rotation of the left shoulder be sustained all the way through to the end of the finish. If the shoulder slows down or stops for any reason (like being told to keep your head down), the clubhead won’t square off and the shot will most likely be missed to the right. The best way to sustain the left shoulder rotation is to swing through to a well-architected and balanced finish.
There is a very definite structure to a great finish, and in this video, I detail five key alignment features that great players display in a well-balanced finish:
The Two Upper Arms
- The left upper arm must finish in its original relationship to the shoulder-line
- Both upper arms must finish parallel to one another
The Left Elbow
- Must finish equal to or above the height of the left shoulder
- Balances neatly into the plane formed by the left upper-arm and forearm where the weight of the shaft is supported along the left upper-arm.
- The portion of the shaft just beyond the grip should come to rest near the colic at the top of your head.
- The left-upper arm, forearm, and clubshaft should form a rectangle with a slight downward slant to the ground.
- The right wrist must re-hinge at the finish, which allows the back of the left wrist to flatten and puts the left hand more “on-the-forearm” to help support the weight of the shaft.
The Right Foot
- Should not be allowed to “flop-over” beyond 90 degrees.
- Strive to keep the heel from going much past 70* on longer shots and 45* on shorter shots.
- The left shoulder should compress back towards the right heel and settle directly over the right heel.