Mel Flanagan .ie

Cracking The Golf Code

“It’s Groundhog Day”, or something like it

by | March 31, 2018

‘Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.’

George Wilfred Frederick Hegel. 1770-1830.

I will lead you in gently, with a story of the day I cracked the golf code, and discovered “The Swing”. Yes, I have found the swing and it will be yours in the very short time it takes you to read this article.

A golfer of old came into the range. He was a golf don, reading many golf books, and articles on the latest equipment. He could talk the talk with the best of golfers. “We are on a par,” he told me. The clear message was that he did not need or want a lesson, in other words “please don’t come near me when I’m out here hitting shots”.

To say the range was dead would be an understatement. At any rate, I kept my counsel, and stayed indoors and was just settling into watch ‘Come dine with me’ on the television, when I heard a pleading voice “Will you come out and have a look, I’m hitting it all over the parish”, so I did.

Straight away, I noticed his assessment was rather accurate, shots in all directions. This, is a man who studies the game. I noticed he was rolling his wrists very open on takeaway, and his set-up was open, and weak. I said “Tom let’s shut you down”, at least we will have a strong left side to hit into.

I closed his stance and for some weird reason, I focused then only on his takeaway. I went behind him, grabbed the head of the driver, and pulled like hell, as he held the grip. We repeated it a number of times, until he began to get the stretch feel. I said Tom lets ‘Go mad wide early’ and we will just let it happen after that. Do your natural swing.

    I got Tom to reverse his open stance, and get rid of his flat ‘rolling the clubface open’ takeaway. I set him up closed, and got him to power stretch away, out at 45 degrees .It was the polar opposite to what he was doing, and failing at, until now.

    Well lo and behold, shot after shot flew dead straight. We must have hit a hundred drives, one better than the next. I ran back, grabbed my phone, and recorded it. I was able to show Tom, how whilst it felt very different, the changes were subtle. His swing looked so good, and natural.

    His swing line and feet line were at loggerheads, as his arms were freed up, and not stuck in behind him, he was no longer swinging in around his ankles. We hear of the separation of church and state and how important it is, ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’. Separation is also important in the swing, especially on the takeaway. There was now a distinct separation of his arms and shoulders. His arms were flying out and up whilst his shoulders were turning flat and his knees resisting.

    A gap was emerging between his arms and his right side on takeaway. Incidentally, Jack Nicklaus and Severiano Ballesteros, two legends of the game sported flying elbows on takeaway. Amazingly and incorrectly, it was touted by so-called experts of the time as idiosyncrasies.

    Golf standards have been in the junkyard with the flat around the ankles takeaway. Accuracy and consistency were thrown out the window with this around the house watch the dresser takeaway.

    Tom remarked that his arms were “suddenly freed up”. He was amazed how natural and good his swing looked on camera. He could also see, it was a target orientated upright swing, up and down the line.

    I cracked the golf code, what I discovered with Tom on that innocuous day, that the wide upright on line swing, using a slightly closed stance was the holy grail of golf. Tom anchored right, power squatted, and power stretched out at 45 degrees, torqued his bow ensuring the arrow would be fired. I encouraged him to swing left through impact. Anchor right and pull left. I remember thinking, golf defies all normal rules, as aiming slightly right, and swinging left, means at least in golf alone, two wrongs make a right as you do, neither aim nor swing at the target.

    A golfer was born on that day. Tom’s swing in simple terms was to anchor right, power stretch away, and pull left through impact. I found the swing, and Tom instantly put it into practise. What was so good with it that was bad with his Dolly Parton. Coat of many colours … loose innefectual frustrating swing. He arrived a mess, and left with the Holy Grail swing. It all happened so fast, Aim right / Swing left …end of story.

    It was a mere lesson to Tom, to me it was a red flag day, a milestone, an “aha’ moment as I knew I had solved a lifetime puzzle with the game, as to how the swing is fired. We all occasionally hit wonder shots, when we accidently, or quirkely fired our swings but now I knew how, and more importantly why it happens.

    The swing is fired liked a match lit, when the match and the box collide, so it is with the swing by aiming slightly right, and swinging slightly left, the swing is fired… end of story .The match box and match work against one another. You must learn to work your body against itself. Set up flat and swing upright. Aim slightly right, swing slightly left, and voila, you will fire your swing. It was a massive discovery for me, and so easily applied. Wonder shots started flying from Tom’s driver straight away. It was instant and easy.

    I knew then as I know now, golfs little secret is hidden where you would never expect it. It is not at impact, not on your downswing or top of your backswing or your posture set up, I could go on and on. It is hidden in what you and all else think is the most inconsequential part of your swing, the very first 6 inches of your takeaway taking the club out at a 45-degree anarchic angle.

    Don’t do a William Holden on it “I’m mad, mad as hell”, forget mad and instead stretch your arms on your takeaway out at 45 degrees, and then you have it all, my friend.

    You are working where the whole golf world idles, working early, feeding width, angle and torque in to your hungry swing, the long right arm, flying right elbow retaining your core set up well into your back swing.

    What you do going away from the ball is golfs Holy Grail and I innocently discovered it on that ordinary day. It changed me as a golfer completely and forever. I was not guessing anymore.

    The Giant and the feather.
    I always knew the ball is a feather and we are giants, there must be a way to apply our massive strength advantage to the feather. No matter what you think or how bad your game is, beautiful golf is one realistic goal.

    After all it is not a bus you are trying to move. It is a feather. Your advantage is over 2000 to 1. You are a giant. It is do-able for all of us, young, old, big, or small. You can play wonderful golf when you learn to dance with the feather, and fire your swing, but first you must turkey with yourself.

    I always knew with the numbers so stacked in the golfers favour, golf was one solvable equation. I challenge you now and say to you that single figure golf has to be on your radar right now. It is time you, the giant, started to move the feather.


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    40 years playing and teaching professional level, I strive to improve the game for all my students.

    Mel Flanagan PGA

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