The word "timing" is a somewhat elusive term in golf simply because we know what it is but we don't know how to get it or how to keep it.
The golf swing is often referred to as a hand-eye coordination game where "timing" is all-important. So what is timing?
It can be defined as the sequential or orderly movement of the body parts so that the club arrives at impact on time producing both distance and direction. When a golfer hits a good drive he will immediately exclaim "good timing." Similarly, when the body is too far in front of the hands, arms and clubhead we are late with the club and we have a poorly timed swing.
In this article, I will examine the biggest source of timing errors, and that is trying to time the arm swing with the body turn. In order to do that I will concentrate on two basic things that every golfer should know about his or her swing.
Tip from the Pro
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Every golfer must match up their position at the top of their swing with their corresponding hip action. When they do this, their club arrives on time and square to the line at impact. In order to understand the timing of the hands at the top and the corresponding hip movement on the downswing it is probably necessary to explain the length of movement of the club and some specific body parts.
For example, on the backswing the shoulders move about eight inches while the hips move only four inches. Furthermore, the hands move about six feet whereas the clubhead moves 15 to 18 feet. Obviously then the hips have the least amount of distance to travel back to impact while the clubhead has the longest route to go.
Let's say you have a very high and long swing like Colin Montgomerie and John Daly. Then you must have very slow and waiting hips on the downswing. The hips will feel like they are sliding forward on the downswing before they rotate. Only in this way do the arms have a chance to get in front of your body by impact. High hands require slow hips coming down in order to have the club be on time at impact.
Then there are a number of tour player and senior tour players who have very fast paced swings. Besides being strong, these players must have the top of the swing match up to their downswing hip action. The shorter, flatter swinger times his downswing with little or no hip slide coming down. Since his hands make a shorter more direct route to the ball his hips only have to turn out of the way coming down.
Some examples of this style would include Jeff Maggert and Duffy Waldorf. This style of play doesn't demand a lot of hip slide to get the arms in front of the body so therefore their swings look fast.
The message here is use the correct position at the top of the swing and match that up with the lateral or rotary motion of the hips. Only in this way will the arms get in front of the body and arrive on time at impact.
Dr. Jim Suttie, the 2000 PGA Teacher of the Year, is director of instruction at The Club at TwinEagles in North Naples and at Cog Hill Golf Club in Lemont, Ill. His new book is "Your Perfect Swing" and is available at bookstores and at amazon.com. He also is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher and rated No. 15 by Golf Digest. Suttie coaches the FGCU men's golf team. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.