While we might be older and wiser, our bodies might be going in the opposite direction. So if you’re golf game is slowly going downhill along with your body, pay a little attention to this case study .Loss of strength, speed and flexibility can influence swing mechanics to the point where driving distance can be severely restricted. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
My case study involves 70 year old Mr. Henry Uyehara. He was a decent 14-handicapper when he was in his 40’s. But now that he’s gotten a little older, he’s found that his game went downhill as his age went uphill.
He lost a lot of distance in his drives in recent years and was struggling with anemic 150 yard drives. Since he set up lessons for his grandson, Max, from Virginia, he decided to see whether or not I could help him with his swing also.
Here’s how Henry looked when he arrived.
My initial impression was that he did not lose his swing……age caught up to it. In other words, he had the same flaws when he was in his 40’s but now at age 65, these flaws are really hurting his game. Youth, strength, speed and flexibility can help overcome technical flaws in your swing when you’re young, but Henry’s youthful assets are no longer there to bail him out.
His main flaw as you can see was the swaying of his hip. His right leg buckled outward instead of posting more on the inside of his right foot. You can see how his right hip has swayed beyond the green line.
At the top of the backswing on the left, you can see very little turn in his hips and shoulders. The poor position of his right leg inhibited correct use of his right leg to help drive the downswing as you can see in the picture on the right. It is so lacking in dynamics that the beginning of his downswing looks almost looks like his takeaway.
As you can imagine, this caused a poor impact position with the flipped wrist position and the later chicken winged left elbow on the follow through.
When viewing his swing from down the line, you can see that the hip sway hinders his hip rotation. So as you might imagine, he can’t do anything but lift his arms.
This causes a very steep backswing plane and eventually a very steep downswing plane.
You can see the outside-in swing path and it’s no wonder he was slicing his driver 150 yards.
Here’s his clubface still open on the follow through.
Basically, the sway of his hips caused a chain reaction of improper effects to occur.
The chain reaction went something like this. Sway of hips >> led to a lack of turn of shoulders >> leading to steep backswing >> which led an upper body dominated downswing>> which led to a steep, over-the-top downswing >> which led to a poor outside in swing path >> which led to a poor impact position and nice little chicken wing follow through >> which didn’t allow the clubface to release >> which in turn created the slice that wouldn’t go much farther than 150 yards. Whew!
In just a few minutes, Henry transformed his bad hip sway and poor hip rotation into a work of art. See how he is staying inside the green lines. He has a much better hip rotation now and consequently a bigger backswing shoulder turn as well.
Logically or maybe amazingly, he is now driving his legs and hips to start the downswing. Look at the vastly improved impact position.
Now his arms are releasing properly.
Down the line view
See how turning his hips allowed for a flatter backswing plane.
He’s got a much more on plane backswing and his downswing is a lot better.
His club is approaching from a little too far inside the line at this point but it is far better than coming over the top and steep. On the right, his club has released and is swinging more down the target line than before.
His clubface is really looking good right here. The clubface has released and there’s no sign of the chicken wing.
And the best part? He’s hitting over 200 yards now and his weak slice has been transformed into a nice draw.
There are several lessons to learn from this case. Number one, it’s never too late to try to improve. If Henry could improve this much in just a few minutes, he can use this swing to shoot in the 80’s once again. Aging is difficult. But it doesn’t have to make you lose so much distance or struggle so much.
Number two, for senior golfers, pay attention to your hip turn on the backswing. You aren’t flexible enough to get away with poor backswing rotation or sways. Maybe in your youth, you could compensate with strength but not anymore. It is far better to turn and get your arm swing flatter like Henry in order to generate more power from a technical advantage instead of getting steep and trying to muscle the ball out there when you don’t have the muscle or flexibility.
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Thanks for a really good motivational article - it's good to see that if we put in a little added effort we can improve no matter our age or how long we've been toiling at the game. The photos and notations really help illustrate the technique.