Firing Code
By Erika Larkin on 9/19/13

Even though we make a golf "swing" and the ball is supposed to just get in the way, in my opinion there is an actual "hit" that happens and we should acknowledge and understand it better so we can execute it better.

If you think about a good downswing motion, the body unwinds at the ball in a certain order: hips, torso, arms, hands. Each one of those units takes their turn firing to create a perfect kinematic sequence that promotes power and leverage. However if any one of those units fires prematurely or is late, our motion backfires and creates a poor shot. Here are a few examples of poor sequence that I see:
  • If you try to fire your hips first but wait too long to start the torso the arms will get left behind and you can block the ball off to the right (for a righty) very badly.

  • If the torso fires early ahead of the hips, you will likely come over the top and pull shots (starting left of the target line)

  • If the sequence has been performed properly but hands fire for too long, your will scoop or cast through impact adding loft or possibly hooking your shot left.
So what to do? Here is a Drill:
  • Do your backswing and do some chopped up downswings very slowly, rehearsing the firing code/swing sequence in pieces until you feel like you can make them happen in the right order with balance and control. Little by little speed it up until you can feel that proper chain reaction of events with your regular rhythm. I also recommend using an impact bag to practice with where you can feel your body and hands fire into the bag and then as if you hit a wall, the work is over, the firing code is complete. If you find that you are pushing the bag right or left or hitting it with broken wrists you will know that your sequence is off.

  • Practice your "impact position": weight on your lead leg, back foot starting to roll/pivot, lead arm straight, trail arm slightly bent, hips slightly open to the target line and be in balance. Hope this position for 5-10 seconds and then relax to your address position. Repeat this several times until you can feel and memorize this position without any hesitation or adjustment. The better your body knows where it needs to be, the better chance you have of getting there when everything is in motion at a higher speed.

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she's oobgolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at Enjoy!

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