How do you start your golf swing?
Starting the golf swing can be like a first kiss. How do you begin and make the first move? How the heck do you do that without embarrassing yourself? What do you do first? Arm on the shoulder, gaze into the eyes?
What moves in the golf swing when, why and how can be equally confusing, and many of us are unsure how to even go about it, so we sit there frozen, tight and scared over the golf ball. Just like a first kiss!
Many of the golfing greats had a trigger of some sort that helped them get started. A trigger or waggle is some type of movement that helps you get rid of tension and helps you get your golf swing started.
Most people remember the late, great Arnold Palmer’s funky finish, but his trigger was unique as well. Arnie used to tilt his right knee inward and toward the target, then he’d begin his turn away from the ball. It was probably something that helped him increase his foot pressure, stabilize his right leg into the ground and helped him begin to rotate the start of the backswing.
Sam Snead use to tilt his head to the right to start his swing, and Jack Nicklaus did the same. Nicklaus said, “If it was good enough for Sam, it’s good enough for me.” By tilting their head to the right, it gave them the feeling that it was easier making a bigger turn.
Many golfers use a waggle to trigger the start of their swing. A waggle is not a dance move, but it does help keep you in rhythm with your swing. A waggle is when you wave the club head back and forth at the starting positon. There is a tiny shoulder, arm, wrist or club move away from the ball before going back to address, and it’s a move than sometimes will be repeated multiple times.
Two or three waggles are enough before your playing partners will fall over. Basically, a waggle keeps the club head in motion and is designed to release any tension you have in your hands and forearms when you swing the club.
Another more random trigger used to start the club on the backswing is the infamous “milk the club” used by the recent Masters champion Sergio Garcia as well as past major champion John Daly. Milking the club is where you grip and regrip the club several times before settling into zone to begin the backswing. Sergio in his younger years used to drive TV viewers batty, as it looked like he was milking an entire herd before he started his swing.
In summary, a trigger or waggle is designed to keep your body or club in motion, so when you take the club away, you’ll have less tension in your swing. The next time you’re sitting there frozen, tight and scared over the ball, think about your first kiss.
That was a lot more difficult than this.
Peter Harris is the director of Golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column appears weekly in the Recreation page during the golf season.