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Motion more important than the club in swing

Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 7:33 p.m. CDT

Jake Thurm wants golfers to forget about the golf club in their hands.

“A pitching coach in baseball doesn’t come out to the mound when a pitcher is struggling and talk about the ball,” said the assistant general manager and lead instructor at Fresh Meadow Golf Course in Hillside. “They talk about motion. It should be the same way in golf.”

Specifically, Thurm doesn’t prohibit a student from hip rotation. It leads to a greater shoulder turn where a golfer can generate more club head speed.

“Every golfer should make the turn they can physically make,” Thurm said. “A bigger turn leads to greater club head speed and a better sequence of motion. That produces more power because a golfer is moving larger muscles from the ground up.”

But it’s players worried about the position of the club in the swing that mostly walk into Thurm’s office for a lesson.

“I don’t care about a players backswing,” Thurm said. “Because I’ve seen all kinds of backswings work. But I’ve worked hard to tear down the myths out there. I have high expectations for every student and once their misconceptions have been cleared up, they begin to see what they are capable of doing.”

As Thurm instructs golfers focused on lower numbers, he sends players to physical therapist Jeremy Smith who turns to letters.

Specifically, the importance of the letters ‘Y’ and ‘T’ made during a simple exercise to increase the length of player’s latissimus dorsi and create a greater shoulder turn angle.  

“With a focus on small, specific muscles,” said Smith about the ‘Y’ and ‘T’ exercise where a client forms the letters with their arms using a Thera-band anchored at waist height. “It’s   amazing how tired someone gets after just 10 reps.”

It’s a simple exercise that golfers can do at home. Smith has also combined two Thera-band exercises to strengthen clients rotator cuff muscles. With the Thera-band anchored to the wall at waist height a client keeps their elbows locked at their side and pulls the band both towards and away from their body. 

The moves are more efficient than other back exercises because they isolate muscles a golfer’s needs to develop to have a greater turn and longer swing. 

In Thurm’s extensive video library of PGA Tour players, he’s documented shoulder turns between 70 and 100 degrees and hip turns that start at 40 degrees. 

“Using your body for how it was biomechanically designed takes pressure off the golf swing,” Thurm said. “I don’t teach where the club should be because that is a result of how the body swings it. With a limited shoulder turn the swing starts to break down. The hips and shoulder have to turn back. I tell students to be athletic on the golf course.”

Be athletic and forget about the golf club. It’s an inward focus on a player’s motion that drives Thurm. 

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