Try reverse engineering your golf swing — it’s not as hard as it sounds

Upon my introduction to golf I was just like most kids.  I used borrowed clubs (that were too big and heavy for me) and basically just fumbled my way towards occasional greatness.

Every effort of mine was to make the lowest score possible and I played more than I practiced.  There were never any golf lessons taken, just newspaper “Black Knight Golf Tips” read, videos of John Jacobs watched, and nuggets from good golfers picked up along the way.

One of those nuggets was a tip from our Club Champion, a prolific ball-striker who hit the ball in the middle of the clubface with “butter knife” old-school blades every time.  The tip he shared was simple, yet profound, and something his golf swing embodied with incredible regularity.

“Finish in balance, with the club shaft across the back of your head and your belly-button pointing to the target… every time.”

I took his advice to heart and employed it religiously.  It formed the framework for my golf-swing.  It sped my improvement along exponentially, and it guided me, sans lessons, to much success as a young golfer.  

To this day it has remained one of my maxims as a golf instructor. 

How To Reverse Engineer your Swing

Pay attention to any leading golfer throughout the ages and you will see a number of differences and a few commonalities.  

One of the commonalities of all great ball-strikers is a powerful, balanced, poised follow-through. 

I maintain that good finishes (in everything) are preceded by good things… logical enough right?  Well, how about we use that observation as an approach to developing the golf swing?  

In other words, we are going to reverse-engineer our method for success.

A Drill To Try

Begin by posing your impression of a perfect, balanced, strong yet elegant follow-though.

rory mcilroy taylormade driver
Rory McIlroy led the Tour in driving distance in back-to-back seasons.

From the ground up, pay attention to the following elements

Pressure driven into the heel of the lead foot with the trail foot perched up onto the toes with very light pressure on them.

Knees gently “kissing” each other.

The pelvis pushed upward with the slightest arch in the lower back,

Hips rotated toward the target with your belly button pointing to or slightly “past” the target,

The trail shoulder closer to the target than the lead shoulder,

The lead elbow folded and situated around (or slightly below) the lead shoulder,

The trail arm extended, but not rigid, across, or slightly above the shoulder line,

The club-shaft pointed slightly to the ground and across the nape of the skull, and

The neck relaxed, the chin up and the eyes looking toward the sky.

From that picturesque follow-through pose, swing backward to the top of your backswing, and then swing back down and through into the similar follow-through position.  

Strive to return to that place every time.  As you develop, add speed to your swing, but do not sacrifice the follow-though form.

You will quickly discover how the athlete in you organizes the swing efficiently in order to stick the perfect finish.

* Incidentally, I contend that many things in golf should be addressed from the finish to the beginning.  Learn the game from the shortest shots to the longest shots. Construct the way you will play the hole from the green back to the tee. Practice from the shortest club to the longest club. Reverse engineering works. *

NEWSLETTER Contributor

On-course announcer and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated instructor, award-winning NCAA college golf coach, and an accomplished golfer, Mark brings a robust knowledge and vast experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf instructor. He is currently a Golf Analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an Analyst and On-course Announcer for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He currently also serves as a Studio Analyst and an On-course Announcer for PGA TOUR Live  for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother to 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa he was offered a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus , GA). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two-time Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div. II National Championship victories. After graduation, Mark had a short season as a playing professional, but quickly turned his attention to his true passion – golf teaching.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in cultivating ability and talent by providing comprehensive, holistic golf instruction that is easily understandable and of the highest quality to golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate approach and keen knowledge of the game have led to him being a sought-after mind by leading Professional and Amateur golfers alike. Through his career he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour professionals and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of “Golf Digest’s Top 20 Instructors Under 40”, Golf Digest’s “Best Teachers in the State of Georgia” and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best and Brightest”.

As a NCAA College Coach at Columbus State University (since 2001) Mark continues to coach the Columbus State Men’s Golf Team and his program is a perennial contender for Conference and National Titles. He is a two-time NCAA Div. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and the 2009 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019 Mark was selected as Captain and Coach of the (Arnold) Palmer Cup International Team. His team triumphed over the United States Team in the Palmer Cup Matches held at The Alotian Club outside of Little Rock, AR.

Mark’s additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on the CBS Sports “First Cut Podcast”. CBS Sports also uses Mark’s unique voice for audio and promotional PGA TOUR advertisements and promotional reads.

He has also served a 6-year tenure as a Play-by-Play Announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark”, a PGA TOUR Podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA, Golf Digest USA and is currently penning instructional pieces for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-Books on golf instruction: “Scandalously SImple – The Easy Way to Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf is a Game of Recovery”.

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