If you are to achieve mastery around the greens, it is important to understand that the optimal swing sequence for short pitch and chip shots is the opposite of the power sequence of the full swing.
In Golf Swing Sequence and Timing we describe the optimal kinematic sequence for the full swing, a sequence that delivers maximal distance with accuracy. This sequence is shown in Figure 1.
The graph in Figure 1 shows the rotational speed of the golfer’s hips (pelvis), chest (thorax), lead arm and the club head over time as he plays a full swing shot. Negative rotational speed corresponds to the backswing, and positive numbers represent the downswing. If a line is moving away from the zero speed axis, then that part of the body is accellerating. If it is moving towards zero, it is decelerating.
In Figure 1 you can clearly see the optimal power sequence. In the downswing, the hips accelerate first and then begin to decelerate (A) as energy flows up the kinetic chain. This energy transfer gives a power boost to the chest (B), which then transfers energy through the arms (C), and finally to the club, which whips throuch impact with maximal speed (D).
The optimal kinematic sequence for finesse shots, however, is very different, as we can see in Figure 2, which shows the typical acceleration profile of a golfer with a world-class short game playing a pitch shot of about ten yards.
Rather than the lower body driving energy up the kinetic chain to “crack the whip” through impact, in the pitching and chipping stroke the downswing is dominated by the golf club. The hips don’t power the swing, they simply support the rotation of the upper body and provide stability.
The arms and chest work together, not to transfer energy, but to support the proper release and delivery of the golf club, and they reach maximum rotational speed just after impact. The arms are decelerated for a moment by the release of the club, but the chest keeps accelerating through impact. This is what we are talking about when we describe the chest releasing the club in the Pitch & Chip like a Champion series.
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