The Workhorse of the Golf Swing
The Body Pivot
Dr. Eric Wilson, PGA Master Instructor
IMPACT ZONE™ Master Instructor
This is the 5th article in the series I’ve written about the IMPACT ZONE™ Dynamics. Before moving onto the IMPACT ZONE Fifth Dynamic, Swinging the Club Along a Straight Plane Line Through the Impact Zone, I feel it is necessary to address a key element in the golf swing that allows the player to effectively accomplish IMPACT ZONE Dynamic #5, and that is the body pivot.
One of the primary purposes of an effective pivot is “to relieve your wrists and hands of any tendency they may have to become too active.” (p. 91 in The Impact Zone). As Bobby states: “The number-one key that sustains your lag, from the top of your full swing all the way through the impact zone, is a sound downswing pivot driven and led by the hips, with the shoulders, arms, and, finally, the club trailing throughout the motion.”
As defined by Dr. Gary Wiren, PGA Master Professional, in the PGA Teaching Manual, the pivot is “The movement of the body or a body part around a fixed axis. Most commonly used to describe the body turn around the spine in the full backswing (shoulder turn, windup, coil).” Bobby likens the pivot to throwing a baseball – “These same generalities apply to how you use the body to its fullest during full golf swings, i.e., the longer and harder you want to hit the ball, the larger and fuller you will pivot instinctively without having to think about it.”
However, for the golfer who does not pivot instinctively, the following is a working definition of the golf swing pivot from Dan Goldstein, founder of The Dynamic Balance System based on research of tour-caliber golfers: “In general, with a mid-iron, the golfer’s center of gravity is balanced between his/her feet at address. The golf swing results from a rotation of the upper body (and to a lesser degree the pelvis) over stable, but not rigid, legs. During the backswing, as the upper body rotates to the right (in a right-handed golfer), the center of gravity moves in a slight arch toward the right heel. The forward swing indicates movement of the center of gravity back toward the left. Ball contact (or impact) is usually made with the center of gravity just left of center. The swing is completed with the center of gravity moving to a stable finish position on the left leg.”
So the pivot is basically initiated by turning the golf club, hands, arms, and shoulders away from the ball until the top of the backswing is achieved. The transition to the downswing is begun by a lateral shifting of the lead hip toward the target, followed quickly by a rotational movement of the lead hip to achieve balance in the finish over the left heel. As Bobby states, “The pivot blends both lateral and rotational movement, and I believe it is easier to shift laterally, on the balls of the feet, and turn effectively on one’s heels.”
Take a look at the following photo sequence of Bobby demonstrating his outstanding pivot:
One of Bobby’s favorite quotes about the body pivot is: “If the power that you lag into impact is your precious cargo, the pivot is the transportation vehicle that carries the goods through the impact zone. That is why we call the pivot the golf swing’s workhorse.”
Now we’ll be ready for next month’s article, which will focus on Impact Zone Golf Dynamic #5: Swinging the Club Along a Straight Plane Line Through the Impact Zone.