Einstein popularized the term “Thought Experiment” to describe a creative way to solve problems in Physics. Golfers can also benefit from engaging in their own Thought Experiments to better their understanding of the golf swing. Here is some food for your very own Thought Experiment, which is derived from my breakthrough discovery called the Arm Swing Illusion.
Great ballstrikers keep their arms and hands “in front of” their chest throughout the golf swing. The arms in fact move primarily up and down, and a little out and away in front of your chest, in a good golf swing. The arms move in unison, as two sides of a Triangle (one of Ben Hogan's famous “secrets”) Great ballstrikers – while making this independent arm motion – will simultaneously rotate their shoulder girdle/chest/torso underneath their steady head – mainly because they are already bent over enough at the start, ie Spine Angle. During the forward swing, their right shoulder swivels “underneath” their steady head on a slightly steeper plane that it swiveled under the steady head during the backswing.
The arms/hands or two sides of the golf swing Triangle (the shoulder girdle being the base of the Triangle) move in a V shape in front of the chest. They move away from the chest and toward the right side of the chest during the Takeaway, then upwards but still in line with the right side position, stay to this right side of the chest position during Transition and Release until after Impact, and then are moved by momentum across the mid-line of the chest after Impact, to the left side of the chest, and then away and up to the Finish, still to the left side of the chest.
Any attempt by the golfer to independently move the arms “around” the chest or “behind you”during the backswing will disrupt this proper V shaped up and down in front of the chest motion, and cause the golfer to “get stuck” with the arms too far behind the chest, i.e. too far to the right side. You will then “come over the Top” during Transition, trying desperately to get “unstuck”, and then of course the severe out to in clubhead path and early wrist cock release occurs, the signature start of the downswing move of the high handicap golfer.
A similar problem occurs during the forward swing. Great ballstrikers keep that arm to chest angle to the right of mid-line during the Release and Impact segments of the golf swing. Poor ballstrikers throw the arms sideways to the left – across the mid-line of the body. They “hit the ball” with an independent, sideways, “swiping” motion of the upper arms. It feels right, feels “natural” - but it is dead wrong.
And both of those problematic arm issues are caused by a fundamental mis-perception I call the Arm Swing Illusion. It “looks like” great players are making this “sideways” arm motion, but it is simply a very powerful optical illusion. Great ballstrikers “hit the ball” with a spiral-shaped un-coiling motion of their shoulder girdle/chest/torso, while their upper arms remained “glued to their chest” - Hogan's term.