Roller Coaster
By Erika Larkin on 6/25/13
Many golfers are stumped about what really happens at the "top" of the swing — how to properly and smoothly transition from backswing to downswing. You'll hear the word "PAUSE" thrown out a lot when talking about this part of the swing. I too, believe it feels like a pause when you have a good transition.

But don't take it literally.

If you do, you will stop your swing and then in an effort to get it moving again, you'll be at greater risk to get tight, fast, and jerky on the way down getting out of sequence.

Truly, what needs to happen at the top of the swing is this: Just as the backswing and wind up are finishing and the club is moving behind your head, the downswing should be starting with the lower body. This move of the weight shift into the lead hip leg and foot gives the club and arms a change to change direction smoothly, without getting yanked down. It's a moment of weightlessness (or "floating") of the club and arms at the top, just as the downswing is starting. It might feel like a pause, but really, nothing ever totally stops-and-starts.

Think of the top of the swing like the top of a roller coaster ride: Re-live the feeling you have as the roller coaster car is cresting the top of the track and, just before the you start the descent. there is that one moment... when your stomach drops and you have the feeling like you are lifting off your seat slightly... you know the drop is coming but there is that little delay and then the "whoosh" as you go down the hill.

That one moment — that breath and lift at the top of the hill — that is the feeling of the transition in the golf swing. The lower body is the "lead car" on the roller coaster, while the club head is the "end car" following along but still having its chance to crest the hill and change directions from up to down in order at its own time.

I hope my little analogy/imagery helps you smooth out the top of your swing and rhythm. Good luck practicing your roller coaster move!

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, email her at Enjoy!

[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
Thats a great analogy to capture the swing.
Torleif Sorenson says:
I agree; when I tried pausing at the top of my backswing, it came apart on the downswing. Erika, you've done me a tremendous service! Thanks!
srogers13 says:
Think about the lengths Charles Barkley goes to in pausing in his swing.
jrbizzle says:
This is where I think (may not work for everyone) that a one piece take away really helps set up for a succesful transition. Take everything back together, but then your hips will stop tunring first, then your chest and finally your shoulders. To further the roller coaster analogy, picture your hips as the people in the front row of the ride. They are dangling over the edge, while everything else is still coming over the apex.
elliottgaryusa says:
Love it. I can relate to the weightless feeling. Perhaps that's why my good swings feel effortless and I have trouble identifying what I did (because I didn't feel anything but the ball compressing off the club).
onedollarwed says:
Sir Charles too came to mind,ugh! If you pause or slow down too much, you won't be fully utilizing the shaft, and how it stores energy. I've always had a fast and forceful transition - hence stiff shafts and the crushing of the ball. Love it!
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