The Wisdom of David Powell (cd)

The Wisdom of David Powell (cd)

Joined: September 6th, 2004, 3:46 am

December 18th, 2010, 2:21 am #1

As I browsed through recent archives I found the following intriguing words from our north Florida founding member, cd:

"So here I go advising. To me the open stance of Blake sets up a backswing that travels 'under' the body and promotes a feeling of 'dragging' the club out from under whether it be with arms or legs as a mental focus. So my opinion is that if you want to focus on arms you can still swing like Mindy."

These were the words of a long-time "seeker" Don Powell, who may have consulted Shivas Irons himself. I have argued and debated with the good Donald for years as to the value or lack of value of the ideas of Mindy Blake. Despite the spite of various disbelievers on this forum, now in its sixth year, I think I can say with confidence that cd and I agree that Blake had some suspiciously sophisticated and innvovative notions about the now centuries old golf swing. Among cd's words, above, I draw your attention to his statement that one can use the arms (or legs) as a mental focus to begin the downswing. Why mental focus? Could Blake have been plain wrong that his legs were the sole source of his swing power and the upper body was "dragged" along by leg action? I think it possible that he was wrong. How could that be? Did he not even know which of his body parts were thrusted forward first? Well, maybe not. We didn't have ultra-high-speed cameras and film in those days so, in essence, it boiled down to what it "felt like" to the individual swinging the club. Now we have video evidence. And yet...and yet...there is still an age-old argument between the "big muscle" theorists and the "arm swing" theorists as to which is predominant in providing the speed for a powerful swing. Of course, many instructors hedge their bets and say swing speed emanates from a combined effort of lower and upper body muscles.

Back to cd's advice. In a properly executed reflex swing the club does seem to travel 'under' the body (think of Lee Trevino's absolutely unique and extremely accurate swing with his shoulders going down, under and through). And, it it quite feasible that arms or legs may be the mental focus for beginning the downswing. My rationale for concluding this is that legs "going first" may simply be a "trigger" for the upper body, specifically as a jolt for the shoulders and arms to move. Or, one may simply feel that the shoulders and arms go first with the legs acting as a firm platform for upper body action.

So, is there anything further to discuss? In my humble opinion I suggest that Blakeites/Mindians should give serious consideration to a different aspect of the reflex swing, an aspect that I have pondered and cogitated for almost forty years now, ie, the grip change, or, as Richard Wax began to call it in his commentary, the grip completion. As you take the club back slowly and outwardly (along the target line) the trail hand middle and ring fingers should slip round the shaft slightly as the lead hand wrist turns under (closes) (figures 12 and 13 of GTTB) and reaches a flat or even convex position at the top (figure 15 of GTTB). I cannot be certain why this works from a physics and kinesiology standpoint, but if you find yourself stymied, unable to progress with the reflex swing, and if you are not using the grip change, give it a try, my friends...and let us know if you find it of worth...or worthless. Regards, Snakedoc



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Joined: August 2nd, 2004, 11:57 pm

December 23rd, 2010, 8:12 pm #2

Jim, it's David not Don. But thanks for mentioning "wisdom" in
conjunction with my name. If I give you my kid's addresses will
you write and tell them.

I still think that the grip change has yet to be accurately described.
There's the whole clockwise/anticlockwise thing and there's the notion
that since both hands are rotating it's difficult to get my mind around
the trail hand rotation being the focus of the change. If you just turn
the lead hand under and hold the trail hand position the grip would move
under the trail hand thus changing its position. Maybe the trail hand doesn't
move at all?
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Joined: September 6th, 2004, 3:46 am

December 26th, 2010, 5:14 pm #3

In my dotage, there are inevitably occasions of problems with names that I should know well. Coincidentally, and you may say, a likely story, an old friend and sometime golfing partner from Colorado Springs is named Don Powell.

Re the grip. I always return to figure 13 of GTTB and Mindy's words associated with that figure: "The right arm turns clockwise at the start of the takeaway. This is the only movement which will keep the right elbow in position well across the body." Does this mean that fingers of trail hand must "slip" on the shaft during the takeaway in order for the trail arm to turn clockwise? Perhaps not, but I get my best forward trail elbow position, best bent-back trail wrist position, and best shot result when I allow (a slight) slippage to occur.

A question for you: Mindy believed it very important that the hips should move forward (targetward) during the takeaway and backswing. This was part of his notion of eliminating weight shift in the backswing. Does your version of Blake include forward shifting of the hips during takeaway/backswing?

Best wishes for 2011, Jim
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Joined: August 2nd, 2004, 11:57 pm

December 31st, 2010, 1:59 pm #4

Jim, I haven't seen a comment from you in some time about your thumb
problem. I think it was thumb. Is that resolved and does it change your
personal grip at all?

This was prompted by a reader on the SA site who injured his lead thumb
and I remembered that you had a problem similar.
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Joined: September 6th, 2004, 3:46 am

December 31st, 2010, 5:39 pm #5

I had the option of surgery to treat the joint at base of my left thumb which "popped" out of place a few years ago. A sort of "knot" formed at the base of my thumb. For a while there was some pain involved and my pinch power with left thumb and index finger was weakened. Eventually the pain subsided and I can easily get along with weakened pinch power, so I chose to do nothing about it. It's still there, but I don't think it has much, if any, effect on my golf grip.

Re my allowing a slippage of trail-hand fingers around the shaft during takeaway. I should say that there's nothing in GTTB to suggest that Mindy employed or recommended my adaptation. He described the grip change action as trail hand bending back early in takeaway and the two hands coming together naturally during the takeaway.

You didn't answer my question re whether you attempt to move your hips forward during takeaway/backswing. Jim
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Joined: August 2nd, 2004, 11:57 pm

December 31st, 2010, 7:44 pm #6

"You didn't answer my question re whether you attempt to move your hips forward during takeaway/backswing"


Yes when I use the Blake swing my hips rotate in a way that shifts them toward the target.
It keeps my weight centered between my feet. This idea of Mindy's always brings to my mind
a memory from at least twenty five years ago; I was playing a course that gave me a view
of the group following my foursome such that I was looking down on them from above. Two
players in that group were standout players and the thing that really stood out was their
butts. Their rear ends went toward the target when their hands went back and they could
really whang it. From above it looked like a counterweight system. Kind of like attic
access ballast weights. Or a trebuchet.
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Joined: September 6th, 2004, 3:46 am

January 1st, 2011, 5:42 pm #7

The bird's eye view you had of golfers appearing to shift hips forward during backswing is intriguing.

You wrote: "Yes when I use the Blake swing my hips rotate in a way that shifts them toward the target." Can you elaborate on the phrase, "...rotate in a way that shifts them [hips] toward the target?" My own feeling is that I must start my backswing action "from the knees" to get a feeling of shifting my hips forward during my takeaway/backswing.

Of course, the conventional wisdom has always been, and remains so now, that there should be a weight shift to the trail side during the backswing. Did Mindy have special insight on this matter that still hasn't been discovered or accepted by mainstream golf instruction?

Trebuchet: a medieval military engine for hurling heavy missiles (as rocks). Do you (somehow) see a connection between a trebuchet and keeping the weight balanced between the feet during a golf backswing? Jim

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Joined: August 2nd, 2004, 11:57 pm

January 4th, 2011, 1:07 am #8

"Of course, the conventional wisdom has always been, and remains so now, that there should be a weight shift to the trail side during the backswing. Did Mindy have special insight on this matter that still hasn't been discovered or accepted by mainstream golf instruction?"

All I can surmise is that when the arms and club go right in a wide arc then something has to go left if you wish to maintain your balance between your feet. Otherwise it's right foot, left foot.

"Trebuchet: a medieval military engine for hurling heavy missiles (as rocks). Do you (somehow) see a connection between a trebuchet and keeping the weight balanced between the feet during a golf backswing? Jim"

I don't know. It just looks like a counterweight butt from certain angles. Hogan did it too.
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