On his 1960 KHJ TV Channel 9 television show, Mike Austin urged us to ‘step and throw.’
He claimed that he had embarrassed an entire auditorium full of PGA members once, schooling them on when the release actually started – much earlier than was commonly taught. He said that he had electromyograph data showing he was correct in this assertion.
Dr. Young Hoo Kwon, a PhD in Kinesiology/Biomechanics has been researching similar topics at the Texas Women’s University just north of Dallas. His lab is equipped with the latest gadgets to study the golf swing, like force plates and high speed 3d camera systems with reflectors, similar to those that now produce realistic digitized motion in video games.
Kwon is helping the golf world finally sort out the age old question of when the release of the clubhead actually occurs. When do the wrists start attempting to uncock and accelerate the club?
In the animated graph above, we are specifically looking at the red line in the bottom graph. As you play the video, note where the time tracking line is (and where the stick figure model is) when the red line starts to climb.
It is about when the hands return to shoulder level, just slightly after the downswing begins.
The model in this animation is Charles Howell III, a notable multi tournament winner on the PGA Tour.
Mike Austin talked about the sequence of stimulus, reaction, response. Could it be that the stimulus portion, or the intent to throw, starts earlier than this – from the top? The signal from the brain down to the muscles, and the muscles then contracting, does take finite time.
The reaction is the actual uncocking motion using torque. The response is the clubhead and shaft catching up to form a straight line with the left arm by the time we reach the ball.
It appears, however, the Mike Austin was certainly correct about the concept of ‘step and throw’. You might even say ‘step THEN throw’ is a better phrasing, as during the first portion of the downswing, before the mid hands torque starts to spike, the golfer is bracing himself by using the ground – stepping down onto the front foot and letting the center of mass start to drop.
It is this bracing effect that allows for a powerful response from the hands couple. Without the ‘step’ phase, we would have no brace to throw against. And, the stronger the brace (i.e. the more weight pushing into the ground by the front foot), the stronger we can throw.
The days of maintaining lag, or pulling the handle towards the ball are over. The new reality, that we release from near the top, has always been the reality.
Here’s part 1 of the actual TV show from 1960, where you can hear it in Mike’s own words: