Front Arm Progression - The Secret To the Golf Swing eBook

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The same thing that works for the baseball swing works for the golf swing.  It's all about learning how to stop overexerting your back arm.  In my new book, Front Arm Progression - The Secret To the Golf Swing, I unveil the true secret to hitting the ball with more power and consistency, and doing so in very little time.  

(Read first chapter below)

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 - Discovering the Clues

First, I talk about my journey and how I was finally able to stumble upon a little known fact about the greatest ball-strikers - that so many of them were dominant in their front arms.

CHAPTER 2 - A Great Swing Is a Back-Arm-Non-Dominant Swing 

In this chapter I talk about how it's not really being dominant in their front arm that helped the greatest ball-strikers.  It's more about what being dominant in their front arm says about their back arms.

CHAPTER 3 - The Front-Arm Progression - The Secret to the Golf Swing. 

Finally, I give you the secret to developing a great swing - a simple three-step progression.

 

First Chapter of Front Arm Dominant

(download first chapter pdf here)

CHAPTER 1 - Discovering the Clues

There are few things as beautiful as a great ball-striker making his
way around a golf course. The first time I saw this I was at the ultra- prestigious La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach in the early 2000s, and I was caddying for a guy named Andres Gaviria, founder of CoffeeCol, a Columbian coffee bean company. Andres was a scratch golfer. Every swing he put on the ball sent it flying high in the air, drawing slightly to the left at its apex, and descending slowly and purposefully toward his intended target. Teeing from the tips, Andres would often shoot under par, and La Gorce is no easy track. He was so good that he’d often have touring pros playing with him, so I got to see the swings of guys like Eric Compton and John E. Morgan up close.

At this time when I was caddying in Miami, around 2004, I was already seven years into my journey to try to solve the golf swing. Caddying was just one of the jobs I did to stay close to the swing. I was always in search for the secret. Watching Andres strike a golf ball, I just knew the secret was something simple.

Andres and Ian Poulter at the 2015 WGC Cadillac Championship

In my early years I studied what others had to say about the golf swing. I’d travel throughout the country to meet with various swing coaches I had heard about, and whom I thought could show me what the secret was. I’d pay these guys upwards of $250 an hour. I was always so excited to meet with them, hoping it would be the lesson where it all clicked. But I was always disappointed in the end. These teachers were often good talkers, good salespeople, but they didn’t have the secret.  

I never set out on my journey to understand the swing to start a business. What drove me was a sincere curiosity. I was more than willing to learn the secret from someone else. And had I found that person, I would have spent the rest of my life exalting his methods, telling people on golf courses around the country, “You need to see this guy.” But that moment never came, and as time went on, and I met with more and more teachers and read more and more books on the swing, I realized that nobody really knew what the secret was. I was going to have to figure out the swing myself.

So I set out to solve the swing puzzle, not realizing it would take me twenty years. That’s right, twenty years. It started in 1997, when I dropped out of college, essentially because I was so obsessed with figuring out the swing, and ended in 2017 when I finally discovered the secret - a simple drill that I call the “Front-Arm Progression.” I never thought it would take that long. Had I known, I may have never started. I was thinking it would take months, a year at most.

As it turned out, the secret would come to me rather serendipitously. It happened like this: From the early 2000s to the mid 2010s, I was working at golf courses during the day and filming the swings of baseball players at night. Around 2007, I started to gain some notoriety as the first independent swing coach to help MLB hitters improve their power through a swing change. Most notably I worked with Ben Zobrist and Raul Ibanez. There were several other college and minor league guys I helped along the way as well, but those two are the guys who put me on the map so to speak.

ben zobrist jaime cevallos swing mechanic

On the left is an image from the very first day I filmed Ben Zobrist in 2007. We worked hard to make his positioning at contact more connected. On the right is a swing I filmed at a game against the Rangers two years later, where he displays a much more connected position at contact. Ben would go on to win a World Series MVP.

raul ibanez swing change baseballThis is me working with Raul Ibanez in 2011 in my hometown of Philadelphia. He would go on to have one of the best MLB postseason performances of all time at the plate.

I’m proud to say that after working with Zobrist and Ibanez, they both would go on to be among the greatest clutch hitters of the 2010s. The president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Andrew Friedman, called my work with these guys “influential and instrumental” in the book Swing Kings, by Jared Diamond. By that statement, he meant that I had shown people how much can be done by hiring swing coaches from outside of Major League Baseball, as opposed to working with the traditional hitting coaches hired by the teams, the cohort of men who have basically been teaching the same ineffective technique since the 70s.

After my 15 minutes of fame was up, I removed myself from teaching. Although I had achieved success with MLB hitters, I was not content with my understanding of the swing. Probably
not the best decision financially, since being mentioned in bestselling books, newspapers and magazines across the country made me pretty highly sought after for lessons. I had people flying in to work with me on a weekly basis. But as I said, I never got in this to start a business. My main priority was figuring out the swing. By not giving lessons, I was able to have time to reconstruct and improve my understanding of the swing.

Although most people know me for my work with MLB hitters, I have also consulted with various PGA golf coaches and players throughout the years. The truth is, I always studied the golf swing right along with the baseball swing. Here I am in 2001, on the local news in Charleston, South Carolina. This was before my days caddying in Miami. I was working at Kiawah Golf Course during the day and filming professional hitters from the Charleston Riverdogs at night.

I was studying the golf and baseball swing simultaneously because early on I saw a key similarity they shared - the fact that the great hitters and ball-strikers tended to have an exaggerated flattening action of the bat or club - otherwise called “slotting” - at the start of the forward swing or downswing.

ben hogan and babe ruth swingIt’s no coincidence that Ben Hogan and Babe Ruth are arguably the best ball-striker and hitter of all time and they both had an extreme flattening action of the club or bat as they transitioned.

I became fascinated by this slotting move, convinced that if I could just find out why it happened and how one could feel it, I would be figuring out the secret to the swing. So I hit balls incessantly. Oftentimes, not having the money to pay for range balls, I would offer to drive the range picker at various golf courses in exchange for a few buckets. I know this word is overused today, but I was truly “obsessed.” I devoted pretty much my entire waking life to solving the swing.

As the years went on, I would grow more and more frustrated. The answer just wasn’t coming to me. Not only was I failing in my attempt to understand the swing, at least to a level that I was satisfied with, but more and more my right hip was starting to break down from the repetition of hitting hundreds of golf balls nearly every day. In 2017 - twenty years after starting my journey to figure out the swing - the pain in my right hip got so bad that I went to see a doctor. He recommended I get some MRIs, which I did, and when he looked at the images a few weeks later, it was clear that I had developed arthritis. It was almost bone-on-bone. He said that I’m too young for surgery, but surgery at some point is inevitable. He told me that in the meantime I should just be real careful with it, and not hit any more golf balls.

Hearing him say this was a real smack in the face. Needless to say, I was pretty distraught. For months I figured there was nothing I could do. I was coming to grips with the possibility that I was never going to figure out the swing. Then, a few months later, on a beautiful sunny day, I wanted so badly to hit on the range again, so I decided I’d hit balls left-handed. I went to the thrift store and bought some left- handed clubs and headed out to the range.

It didn’t hurt nearly as bad to swing lefty, except for the damage to my ego because I could barely make contact with the ball. Nevertheless, I went back and tried again a few days later, and then again a few days after that. The more I hit, the more I started to enjoy the challenge of hitting from my left side. It felt like I was finally evening out the coordination in my, up to that point, very lopsided and unbalanced body, and it felt good. Plus, it felt great just to get out on the range again.

I continued to go to the range and hit left-handed. Over several weeks, my coordination developed enough that I could consistently make contact, and I noticed that the ball flight was actually pretty good. With my right-handed swing I was always fighting the occasional unintentional fade, but now, swinging lefty, I was pretty consistently hitting it either dead straight, and even a slight draw.

I hadn’t planned on filming my left-handed swing, but this new ball flight piqued my curiosity, so I decided to film it. When I finally examined the video, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was achieving positions from my left side that I had been trying and failing to achieve for two decades from my right side, and I was doing it with no conscious effort whatsoever.

The main difference was the slotting action. From my right side, I was always trying to get the club to flatten out as I transitioned from the backswing to the downswing, and I never could do it. Now with my lefty swing I could do this naturally, without trying at all.

golf swing flatten slot the clubOn the left is me in 2014, the club coming “over-the-top,” as they say, as I started my downswing. Once I started filming my left-handed swing in 2017, I was able to flatten the club without even trying (right).

This was shocking to me. How was it that I had been trying to force these positions into my right-handed swing and could never do it without the swing becoming stiff and robotic, and from my left side I was achieving these positions without any swing thoughts at all?

It was then that it occurred to me why the greatest ball-strikers don’t actually feel the thing they are doing that makes them great. To them it feels normal. The same way my lefty swing didn’t feel any different than my righty swing. This is why we could never just walk up to them and ask them what sets them apart. It’s why no great ball-striker ever wrote a book that ended the need for instructors forevermore. It’s not that they are trying to keep it a secret from us; they just don’t know what that secret is, because to them their swing feels normal, and what they are doing that sets them apart is just as hidden from them as it is from us.

It wasn’t just the slotting action in my lefty swing that looked good. Halfway back, the club was perfectly “on-plane,” as you will often see from great ball-strikers. I could never do this with any level of comfort with my right-handed swing. I would force the club more to the outside but it was like it didn’t fit into my swing and it always felt forced and robotic.

Halfway down, again the club was outside of my hands and not getting stuck behind me, a position that is almost always seen from great ball-strikers, and again a position I couldn’t for the life of me achieve in all my years swinging right-handed, no matter what I tried.

how to golf swingHalfway back, I could never get the clubhead outside my hands or coming “through” my hands from the down-the-line view (left). When I switched to lefty, it happened naturally (right).

golf swing secret instructionHalfway down I was always, what’s called, “stuck” - the clubhead coming from inside and under my hands. When I switched to lefty, this also was fixed. Great ball-strikers almost always will have the clubhead coming straight through the hands at this point.

The next thing I had to figure out was why. Why were these better positions happening? If my lefty swing felt normal to me, just like my righty swing felt normal, how did they look so different, and why was my lefty swing so much better?

I pondered this for a long time, then one day it hit me. The only major difference was that my back arm, when I switched to lefty, was suddenly my non-dominant arm, and my dominant arm was in front - obviously a reversal from my right-handed swing. I decided to do some research to see if there was evidence out there that would corroborate this idea.

Sure enough, there was a plethora of evidence. Some of the best ball- strikers of all time, it turns out, were “front-arm dominant.” Ben Hogan, who many regard as the number one ball-striker of all time was one of them. He couldn’t find left-handed clubs as a kid, and ended up switching to righty because of it. In Hogan’s book, Five Lessons, he says, “I was born left-handed - that was the normal way for me to do things...The boys in my hometown, Fort Worth, used to buy their golf clubs at a five and dime store, and there simply never was any left-handed equipment in the barrel where the clubs were stacked.”

Nick Price, who is considered among the best ball-strikers of all time, was also a natural lefty. He said on the Fore the Love of the Game podcast, “I switched over from left-handed to right-handed when I was about nine or ten, because I could’t find any left-handed clubs.”

There are eight other natural lefties, other than Hogan and Price, who won Majors swinging from the right side - Byron Nelson, David Graham, Johnny Miller, Greg Norman, Curtis Strange, Sergio Garcia (ambidextrous - throws lefty, writes righty), Henrik Stenson, and Jordan Spieth. Furthermore, Nelson, Miller, Norman, Garcia, and Stenson, in addition to Hogan and Price, are also often considered among the best ball-strikers of their era.

Then there are the natural righties who swing from the left side. This is a handedness trait that is seen in about 2% of the general population, yet of the five lefty golfers who have won majors - Bob Charles, Mike Wier, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and Brian Harmon - four of them are natural righties! Watson is the only one who’s fully left-handed.

lead front arm dominant golfersJohnny Miller, Curtis Strange, and Henrik Stenson are just a few of Major-winners who were natural lefties but swung from the right side.

golf lead front arm dominantBob Charles, Mike Wier, Phil Mickelson, and Brian Harmon all swing left-handed but write with their right hand.

 

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