foozle vt foo-zled; foo-zling (1892): to manage or play awkwardly; a bungling golf stroke

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Golf and Archery

We all know this winter I've been on a quest to drastically improve my golf swing. I've spent hours hitting balls into a net in my garage and I've certainly stumbled upon some (at least to me) earth-shattering revelations along the way. Recently, I've begun to feel the unwinding of the downswing starting before the end of the backswing and, when timed properly, the amazing feeling of stored-and-released energy pre-and-post impact. As always, I've been trying to come up with a visual image that would relate to this "experience" and I'm starting to think it's a lot like pulling back a bow string in an attempt to fire an arrow.
When I was in junior high school, we had a unit in gym class that was devoted to archery. It seemed like a bad idea at the time and, come to think of it, it still seems like a bad idea. A bunch of knuckleheaded 12 and 13-year olds on the football practice field with bows and arrows in their hands? Yes, it was a disaster waiting to happen. But more importantly to this discussion, it was also the last time I pulled back a bow string and attempted to fire an arrow towards a target. Now that I'm playing golf, I'm thinking there is a similar sensation in the golf swing. The first 80% of the pulling-the-bow-string action is done with little or no resistance. It's when the string is almost taught that the hardest part begins. Continue to pull the string, however, and you'll feel the bow stiffen and know that you have a legitimate chance of firing that arrow far and true. Stop pulling the string when it gets hard and you'll likely fire a weak dribbler of an arrow a meager distance towards the target.
Similarly, take the club back in your backswing and until you get to at least halfway there is little or no resistance from your body. However, once your hands reach your shoulders, if you begin to unwind your lower body and start to shift your weight towards the target, you've essentially "tightened the bow string" and are ready to fire the golf ball far and true. Again, stop the backswing before you've become fully coiled (or even worse, don't begin the unwinding of the lower body before the backswing is complete) and you'll likely hit a soft, weak shot that comes up well short of your desired target.
Interesting, huh?

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