Your Golf Club Is Heavier Than You Think

By: Matt Saternus & Rick Silva

An Anvil on a Stick

The average driver weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 grams.  No one would consider that heavy.

What if I told you that, during the swing, that driver weighed more.  A lot more.  Like, 140 times more.  Would you believe me?  And if you did, would you change the way you swung the club?

In this lesson, with information from Rick Silva of Movement 3 Golf, I’m going to explain why the club gets so heavy, what you should do about it, and how you can make it lighter.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You want to avoid golf-related injuries

You want to swing faster and hit the ball farther

Why Is the Club So Heavy?

Depending on your swing speed, the club head can exert a force of 100 pounds or more during the swing.

If you find this hard to believe, consider this: every golf club has a Center of Mass (COM).  To find its location, find where the club will balance on your finger.  The longer the club, the further the club’s COM is away from you.  Now, picture a golfer from a down-the-line view: the further the COM gets behind the golfer, the greater the effective weight is.

For another visualization, think about this: what would happen if you let go of the club mid-downswing?  It wouldn’t drop to the ground; it would fly in whatever direction the club head was pointing when you let go.  And it would fly a long way, because it’s moving fast and thus producing a lot of force.  That’s why long drive competitors have forearms like Popeye – their clubs are trying to pull out of their hands at 160 MPH!

What Should You Do About It?

If you knew that you were going to pick up 100 pounds, how would you set up your body?  Would you stand up straight?  Push your hips forward?  Put your weight on your right leg?  If you did those things, you’d either fail to move the weight or you’d injure yourself.  Yet those are exactly the things that many of us do as we get toward impact.

To create a safer – and potentially faster – impact position, think about the right way to approach lifting that weight.  You’ll want flexion in your hips, your weight balanced between your feet, and your chest pointed slightly toward the ground.

How Can You Make the Club Lighter?

In addition to setting up our body to deal with the load safely, there are things we can do to make the club effectively “lighter.”

First, we can organize our Hub-Path and the club’s COM.  Let’s quickly define Hub-Path.  The Hub is where the two hands meet on the grip.  The Hub-Path, then, is the path that point moves along during the swing.  By getting the Hub-Path and the club’s COM to work together, we can reduce the force the club puts on our body.

Second, we can improve the function of our hip joint.  Many golfers (and golf instructors) think of the hips as one thing that rotates back and forth during the swing, but in fact the hips are made of two independent ball-and-socket joints.  We need to consider each joint’s range of motion and how to use it to move the club safely and quickly.

Finally, we can curve the Hub-Path to pitch the club “out” earlier in the downswing.  If having the club’s COM behind us makes the force greater, having it in front of us sooner will reduce that force.

For further information on how you can apply these ideas to your golf swing to make the club lighter and add speed, contact Rick Silva at Movement 3 Golf.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

8 Comments

  1. Guys, I think a few weeks back you advocated FEEL golf and NATURAL swing without much thinking…. I got bashing at Discussion, when I said that as a technical systematic guy, who is a bogey golfer, I need to think quite a lot of about the swing and (unless I have a very good day somehow – then I play without mcuh thinking and checklists…)…
    And now this article… even to me this seems unnatural, too technical and an odd selling technique of some training method… not speaking that after reading it twice I have no clue what to do… other than being puzzled from the paragraph, where it is suggested that COM should be more in front, not behind, which I think contradicts the lag… as lag is all about having COM behind HUB and thus create speed… or?

    • Matt Saternus

      Peter,

      In no particular order:
      Lag does not create speed, that’s a hidden nugget in what’s being explained here.
      The biggest takeaway from this post, to my mind, is that there’s a lot of force being put on the body during the swing, and it would behoove every golfer to consider how they’re setting up to deal with it.
      Plugged In Golf (and I, personally) contain multitudes. We can enjoy and benefit from the latest science and also understand that thinking about science on the course won’t help golfers score better.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. I agree with Peter and Matt’s answer/explanation did very little to shed light on the article’s intended message.

  3. While I’m interested in this important topic, saying that impact positions/motions are not good because they aren’t good for lifting a 100 lb weight. is not at all convincing. Swinging an object around ourselves on an inclined plane requires a completely different motion from vertical lifting, plus the “weight” of the golf club is changing throughout the swing, so the physical demands are different at different instances during the swing. I get the idea of forces being larger than we may perceive, but the physical requirements for lifting 100 lbs. vertically are not the same as the swing around forces during a golf swing, so one cannot invalidate the impact positions using this example.

    • Matt Saternus

      Alex,

      When did I say I was trying to “invalidate” anything? I explained a fact about the force the golf club is putting on your body, and I suggested that people look at their impact positions to see if that is position from which they can safely resist said force. I will go out on a limb and say that no one who is playing golf at a high level or creating much speed is doing the things that I suggested are negative.

      -Matt

  4. Peter,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. If I may, what is it that you are wanting? What exactly will quench your thirst? I can tell you for first hand that this is no “training method” nor is he or I “selling” anything… If that’s what you took from Matt’s article, well, I’d encourage you to read it again. The article is telling a story/I am merely reporting the data. I’m reporting the “what’s ACTUALLY happening.” What the golfer is experiencing (whether they are aware of it or not). Golf instruction is interesting – there’s a lot of crazy information out there that good people like yourself want to believe is true but here is the hard truth, it’s not. I’m blessed to be a part of something really special. Myself, Michael Jacobs and two other guys in our group are the only golf professionals on the planet who have access to real world KINETICS. While the entire world is looking at KINEMATICS we are dealing with what actually makes that up…

    – Kinematics describe the movements of a golf swing (speed, velocity, acceleration, rotation, etc)
    – Kinetics are the forces that created the movement (forces, torques)

    So, in closing, if you are wanting another generic golf-help tip that wont actually help you, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. However, if there is something in your game that is troubling you or if you have a question about something, ask away and I will be happy to give you an ABSOLUTE answer to WHY it is and WHAT you can do to fix it. (absent from the generic golf stuff)
    -Rick Silva

  5. Alex,
    What is your background sir?

  6. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the article. It complemented the podcast episode on kinematics and fitting very well. My takeaway from the article is that a golf swing is an athletic movement, and you need a proper setup in order to maximize energy and to do it safely without injury. My trainer at the gym always emphasizes engaging the core when doing a kettle bell swing so that you do not hurt your back. I’ve been trying to incorporate that more into my golf swing because my previous method had been putting a lot of strain on my back. I haven’t played in a few seasons but would like to get back to it in this spring. I live in the Northeast so winter golf is a no go. Anyway, I enjoy the articles and the podcast!

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