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Amen Corner: Don’t get cocky — unless you’re tweaking a golf swing

  • The more your cock your wrists during a golf swing, the longer you're likely to hit the golf ball. (Courtesy photograph)

Special to the Valley News
Published: 6/26/2019 8:54:14 PM
Modified: 6/26/2019 8:54:09 PM

Imagine the biomechanics of hammering a nail. You raise the hammer in the air and create two levers simultaneously with your elbow and wrists. The elbow lever farthest away from the hammer extends first, then the wrist lever, delivering speed and power to the hammer head. When done in sync, this movement can be powerful — and certainly more powerful than delivering the hammer with a straight arm without levers.

When you hinge, or cock, your wrist during a swing, that sets the angle, or lever, between your arms and golf club which, when released, helps deliver more speed to the end of the golf club.

The golf swing can be a tongue twister sometimes, so your question may be: How much wrist cock should a wrist cock cock, if a wrist cock could cock wrists?

Well, it will vary depending on the shot you are trying to decipher. If a hinge creates a lever to deliver more club head speed, how far are you trying to hit the ball?

Let’s take a look at a chip shot first. A chip shot is when you’re close to the green and you need to hit the ball in the air anywhere from 2 to 5 yards or so, relying on the ball to roll the rest of the way to the hole once it lands. A chip shot requires no wrist hinge, as it’s a shot where speed can be generated by your arms and body only.

As you move farther away — say 5-25 yards — you may be entering the pitch shot phase. A pitch shot will begin to have a slight amount of wrist cock. This would make sense; the slight amount of hinge will help release more speed to hit the ball incrementally longer distances. In general, during the backswing, you may be moving from a chip shot to a pitch when the shaft gets parallel to the ground, and a small amount of wrist hinge could help.

As you continue to move toward needing to hit the ball farther, you’ll likely be entering the full swing phase. During the backswing, when your left arm is parallel to the ground, you’ll typically hinge your wrists and a complete 90-degree angle, or lever, between the club and your arms. This angle, when released through impact, is designed to create even more speed.

Are you with me so far? The more wrist cock, the more club head speed. More club head speed equals more distance. The amount of distance for which you are searching depends on the shot you’re facing. Perhaps this will untwist the answer for you.

Peter Harris is the director of Golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column appears weekly in the Recreation page during the golf season.

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