Power in Golf

To understand where the power is generated in golf, you first have to understand the golf swing you are using. There are a number of different golf swings used by golfers today, for instance, new golfers tend to use their arms and hands to generate power, it is also a common method with high handicappers too. Playing this way will just leave you having to correct a golf slice problem.

Rotation

The initial power is to be found in the rotation of the body. If you were to strike the golf ball along a straight line, the golf club head would not be able to travel very far, a couple of feet before and after the ball, if you wanted to keep the club moving along a straight line and increase the distance the club head traveled, you would have to physically move yourself and your club head along this line, either by walking or running. The only other way to increase the distance that the club head travels without moving your position is to rotate the golf club head around your body. This increased distance allows the club head to build up more speed. Power in golf is the speed of the club head moving through the impact zone, it is not like hitting something with a hammer, purely speed.

Arms and Hands

New golfers fail to understand the physics of the golf swing and, in an effort to get the golf ball to travel further, they try and supplement the rotational speed, which is not very fast, by using their arms and hands to supply more power at impact. This throws their whole golf swing out of balance and produces uncontrolled and inconsistent golf shots, a very bad golf slice is usually the result. There are some golfers with this swing, who use a short back swing to try and gain more control and consistency, and in doing so, their attempt cuts down the amount of rotation, and therefore speed, and they end up using their arms and hands even more. However, golfers that have powerful forearms seem to manage reasonably well with this technique.

Golf and the Axis

The axis should be centered round the spine, this is the basis for all golf swings, it gives stability and, if performed correctly, it also gives consistency and accuracy in the golf swing. I'm talking here about the accuracy of your club head hitting the ball, not the accuracy of your shot, if you have a stable axis of rotation and good balance, then the club head will be in a good position to strike the golf ball. Because of the 'coiling' motion of the backswing around the axis, a centrifugal force is exerted on the club head during the downswing.

Golf and the Centrifugal Effect

The modern golf swing that the tour pros use, relies heavily on the force that throws things out from a rotating body, the centrifugal effect. Golfers can use the extra force exerted by the centrifugal effect to increase the speed of the club head through the impact zone. When you are at address, the club head is at it's fullest distance from the axis of rotation (your spine), at the top of the backswing the club head is much closer to this axis. New golfers, and high handicap golfers, generally start the down swing with the club head moving outward from the axis, and by the time their left arm (for righty's) is parallel with the ground, the club head is almost at it's fullest extent. In other words, most of the centrifugal effect has already taken place, well before the impact zone.

Modern Golf Swing

The wrist hinge is where the centrifugal effect is controlled, the more the wrists are hinged at the top of the backswing, the greater this effect will be, if executed correctly. The longer you can maintain the wrist hinge during the downswing the longer the club head will stay close to the axis of rotation. The wrist hinge should be intact, at least, until the left arm is parallel with the ground, centrifugal effect will naturally start the club head on its outward path without consciously unhinging (uncocking) your wrists. This will keep the club head accelerating through the impact zone, the tour pros, and other long hitters, give an extra 'hit' at impact by using their hands and wrists at the last moment.

Golf Swing

There is a lot more to the golf swing than just generating power, and a thorough knowledge of the basic golf swing is a must for new golfers, or any golfer that is experiencing problems with their swing, you can read more of the golf basics here - "Why The Golf Basics Are So Important". If you are aware of what is happening during your swing, and what you are trying to achieve with it, then you will have a much better understanding of the control that is needed in the game of golf, it will also help you in another part of golf, the part they call the mind game.