Chuck Quinton 6 Iron Analysis Down the Line - 2005
With all the swings we've analyzed at RotarySwing.com, there's one we've never looked at, and that's Chuck Quinton's own swing.
Without further ado we'll take a look at Chuck's swing so you can learn what he likes and dislikes in his own golf swing.
More importantly, we'll have the opportunity to review the fundamentals of the Rotary Swing and see them demonstrated in detail, as well as learning why Chuck swings the way he does, and teaches the way he does.
If you've done online lessons with us in the past you've probably already seen this swing. If not, this will show you a little bit about what Chuck's swing is all about.
Start at the Beginning: Address
We'll start with a down the line view and look at the entire golf swing from this angle, beginning with address.
When we work with students we always start by drawing a line straight down from the back of the shoulder at address, like in the photo at left. We want to see that line go through the back of the shoulder, the edge of the knees, and out over the toes.
This creates a very athletic, ready position.
We see a lot of golfers standing with their weight much farther back on their heels, or with very little flex in the knees. Their shoulders are over the balls of the feet instead of the toes.
This puts the body in a very weak position where it can't rotate very freely. The body really locks up at certain joints and the biomechanics become very inefficient. It takes a lot more effort to swing and, more importantly, to rotate.
Since rotation is obviously a big key to the golf swing, it's very important that the legs be able to act as shock absorbers. They need too be flexed and poised, with good bend.
The arms need to hang down freely at address. The shaft should sit naturally and you should have a good spine tilt.
Chuck is using a 6 iron for this swing. His spine angle is roughly 35° if you measure to the back, as we prefer to do.
Finally, notice that Chuck's feet are slightly closed at address. He's set up to hit a little bit of a draw here.
His shoulders are pretty well square as well, basically pointing down the target line, and his hips are also fairly square.
Takeaway: Club Parallel to the Ground
Once we've reviewed a student's address position we move on to the takeaway, specifically the point where the club is parallel to the ground.
The camera angle is a little high on this shot, but the shaft is actually parallel to the ground in the photo at left.
At this point in the golf swing we want to see the club head in line with the hands and the left arm angled down toward the feet or the back of the body. This is critical.
We've drawn a yellow line from Chuck's shoulder straight through the left arm as a point of reference as we study this point in the swing.
We can see that the arm and club are perfectly aligned. Even the club face angle is pretty close to being in alignment. The line continues down through the middle of Chuck's foot. This is exactly what we want to see.
A lot of students take the club back and, instead of angling in and working around the body, their arm will be working down the target line, shown in green.
This is especially common in golfers who come from a two plane background or haven't really learned how to swing their arms around their body yet. The left arm will be more vertical and fall on the green line during the takeaway.
It's very important to work the arms and club head more around the body.
When the arms work around the body, the shoulders are able to rotate more steeply, more perpendicular to the spine, and that's a very important piece of the golf swing.
Finally, we can see that the club face is still in a good position at this point. It's still basically looking at the ball. There's certainly no manipulation or excess rotation or anything like that going on.
Continuing Back: The 9:00 Plane
The next thing we check in the backswing is that the club is starting to get on plane by the time the shaft comes through the right forearm. When the left arm is parallel to the ground, we call that the 9:00 plane.
If you view the swing from face on and imagine a clock face, the left arm is pointing to the 9 at this point.
This is a very, very important point in the golf swing. It's your halfway-back checkpoint.
The shaft should be pointing straight at the ball here.
We check several things at this point, starting with the positions of the hands. This is super important. You can see that Chuck's hands are basically over his right bicep here.
We see a lot of golfers with their hands more in front of the body. This is typically the result of swinging the arms down the target line - that green line in the previous photo.
This makes the left arm look more vertical from down the line and prevents the hands from getting deep enough behind the body.
As a result, the golfer tends to come down over the top and hit a lot of pulls and weak, wiped golf shots.
Therefore, we always want to see the hands over the right bicep at this point. It's a great checkpoint.
Chuck's hands are good here, and his plane is pretty much ideal.
Another 9:00 checkpoint is the head. If we draw a line on the top of Chuck's head at setup, we can see that it really hasn't moved at this point. It's right where it was at address. He's simply rotating around the spine.
His hips, his body, and everything is turning. He has no problem making good rotation at this point. Notice that his right knee has moved back a little but it's definitely still flexed.
Getting to the Top
Moving on, the next thing we look at is the top of the swing.
The top is obviously the hallmark of our Rotary Swing, with the left arm on the same plane as the shoulders. That much is pretty obvious.
Notice, too, that the club face is still square.
The Rotary Swing calls for a nice, tight, controlled backswing. We don't want to see a long, loose backswing. Chuck's position here is ideal for the 6 iron he's swinging.
He's maintained his shoulder angle so the shoulder plane is perpendicular to the spine and the left arm is pretty much perpendicular to it.
Another interesting piece that's been getting a lot of attention is the right arm, particularly the elbow.
The interesting thing about the right elbow is that it works back naturally; you notice that the right arm starts to bend pretty early in the backswing, but it doesn't bend excessively.
If we back up a few frames you can see that Chuck's arms are connected to his chest as he takes the club back. The right arm works back behind him, but not in an unnatural or extreme way. It's a simple, athletic motion.
This is the same way your right arm would move if you were to just stand up straight and fling the club down the fairway, or swing an axe into a tree.
It doesn't take a lot of arm movement to set the club back on plane. You can see that Chuck's club is on plane, his left arm and shoulders are on the same plane, and he didn't do anything crazy with that right arm.
The position is controlled and natural. It's easy to perform.
Just as a side note, if we go back to address you'll notice that Chuck's right elbow is on the green plane.
We don't usually mention this because a lot of golfers find it a little too technical, but a lot of instructors do. It's called the "elbow plane."
Notice that the right elbow stays pretty close to that plane as the club works back.
It will drop a little below the line as he swings a little flatter in an effort to keep the left arm and shoulder on the same plane.
In a two plane swing the right elbow would stay right on the plane line.
Shaft Plane at Address
We have one last thing to discuss before starting on the downswing, and that's the shaft plane at address.
We'll draw a red line to show this plane in the photo; just remember that the camera angle is a little off because Chuck is lined up to hit a draw.
Chuck used to believe that working the club back straight up on plane was ideal, but his beliefs have changed over time.
Certainly for some golfers and some golf swings going back on plane is absolutely the right thing to do, but we've come to the conclusion that that's not the case for the Rotary Swing.
We now believe the club head should work back underneath the plane during the first half of the backswing, as Chuck does in this swing.
He allows the club head to work back to the inside, underneath that red line.
Taking the club head back below the plane is something Ben Hogan and Sam Snead did, as well as many other great golfers who swung around their bodies in more of a rotary type golf swing.
We believe it's important, and here's why:
Fighting the Lefts
When the club works back up on plane early in the swing most golfers don't get their hands quite deep enough behind them. As they come back down on the downswing they almost always swing too much over the top.
This, in turn, means that they either have to maintain a lot of lag or change the way they release the club into impact to keep from hitting the ball left. Either way, we say they're "fighting the lefts."
When you come down steep above the backswing plane - which we'll be talking about shortly - there's a tendency to hit the ball left. You come over the top and tend to pull it just a little bit.
We always say the divots should point left, but there's definitely a point where it becomes too much of a good thing. If you come in too steep you'll have to hold the face off at impact to keep from yanking it left.
A Simple Solution
The solution is to keep the club head a little under the plane in the takeaway.
Taking it back just underneath the plane in the first half of the backswing helps ensure that the club head gets properly behind you, with your hands deep enough to prevent all that from happening.
We can discuss swing planes and congruent planes and all these things, but eventually there's a point where the biomechanics take over and the body simply follows along.
Once you get through the transition, you kind of go into automatic. There's a point where you can no longer manipulate things. Once you get into the downswing and through impact you're swinging hard and instinct takes over.
At that point, the natural tendency is to drive the shoulders, get your weight to the left side, and do all those athletic things, and that changes all the plane angles.
If you're a little steep on the way back and you're rotating hard from the top you're not going to be able to fight that. You're going to tend to come straight over the top and you're going to pull it.
There's nothing wrong with taking the club back a little to the inside. Many great golfers have done it. Obviously Hogan is a big influence on the Rotary Swing and on Chuck's personal golf swing, and this part of Hogan's technique is something we like to see in golfers who are learning the Rotary Swing.
As Chuck starts his downswing, let's take a look at what starts moving first.
If we watch his lower body - the hips, knees and torso - we can see that this whole area of the body is the first to go.
There's no holding back. Watch his belt buckle; the first thing going there is his whole torso. Everything starts down.
A lot of golfers talk about the shaft "falling away" from the top of the backswing, and that's also true. There's a little bit of a falling away in the transition.
We can see it happening in the photo overlay below, which shows both the club head at the top, and the falling back through the transition.
A lot of people think that if the shaft is falling away at the top that must mean you're shallowing it out with your arms and hands, but that's simply not true. There's absolutely no manipulation that causes the shaft to fall away at the top.
Chuck isn't purposely dropping the club to the inside; not at all. He's simply keeping his arms very, very soft.
Like Hogan used to say, the arms get a "free ride" on the way down.
That's exactly what we teach, and what Chuck does in his golf swing. He's certainly not manipulating the club. It's falling because his arms are soft; period, end of story.
One difference you'll notice is that Hogan talked about starting the downswing with his hips, while Chuck starts the downswing with everything, but primarily the core. He pictures his belt buckle rotating as he starts down.
The first photo in this section shows that belt buckle turn very clearly. If Chuck keeps his arms soft while he makes that turn, they've got no choice but to go down.
On the other hand if he's got a lot of tension and he starts to throw, there's no question he's going to come right over the top and then he's going to have to change his release in order to hit the ball and start it on the target line.
You can see in the turning photo that Chuck's arms aren't doing anything. He's certainly not trying to throw them from the top. He's simply turning.
We see his left knee moving, his hips, shoulders, and core turning. Everything starts working back down.
Another thing we look for is to have the club shaft back on plane. The only way you can do that is to keep your arms and hands soft as you start the downswing. That's how you get back onto that same plane the club was on as it came back.
Pretty much the entire golf swing is composed of simple rotation. Take your core and just turn everything back down. Forget that you even have arms. Forget about the golf club. Everything's just turning and then there you are, back on plane.
ABT: Always Be Turning
From here, it's hard to go wrong. All Chuck has to do now is just keep rotating.
As you can see, the shaft goes right through the right forearm here. He has a good amount of lag.
The club head is still well back behind him, which shows that his hands have done nothing at this point to try and throw the club or release it early. They're just along for the ride.
He keeps turning and turning. Notice that right elbow and forearm are back on plane at this point.
We talked about the right elbow plane a little bit earlier on. This is how the right elbow should properly work down in the Rotary Swing. It's beneath the plane line in the photo at left, then comes into impact dead on plane by impact.
Chuck just keeps turning and at impact that right forearm and the grip of the club are perfectly on plane.
The only thing that looks a little off in the impact photo below is that the shaft is drooping a bit. This is simply a product of using a softer shaft, which tends to bow a lot as you come into impact.
Impact: What About That Right Arm?
Here we are at impact in the Rotary Golf Swing.
Chuck continues to turn his hips and shoulders. He's open to the target - remember his feet were lined up off to this side at address.
His right arm has stayed back close to his hip, although not excessively so. His shoulders are open enough at this point.
If you're a lot more aggressive and you really want to drive your whole body very hard through the ball, you can be more open at impact.
If you do that, you do need to have your arms farther back behind your body, but you have to understand there's a balance here.
There's no rule of golf that says your right elbow has to be tucked back by your belt loop. That's only the case if you want to swing aggressively and rotate harder.
You'll be swinging more aggressively to the left and your shoulders will be more open at impact. Of course, if you're an aggressive ball striker like that then your arms need to stay farther back.
Chuck generally hits the 6 iron about 182-3 yards without rotating very hard. With some physical limitations from old injuries, he can't rotate that hard on his left hip but he gets plenty of distance for the amount of effort he puts into his golf shots.
More aggressive golfers just have to keep the arms farther back and rotate more aggressively. They'll be a little more open at impact, but beyond that if you're in a position like Chuck's - your arms have stayed back behind you and you just continue turning through - you're going to hit a lot of great golf shots.
As Chuck continues to turn through, the ball starts out on line. Right after impact we see that right arm start to straighten out as everything releases.
Because he set up slightly shut and he's hitting a little bit of a draw, we notice that the club head is more to the outside of the plane than we'd see in a regular swing.
Chuck's hands work pretty quickly around to the left, disappearing behind his body in short order, although the club head is still visible.
This swing is a few years old. Nowadays when he swings, Chuck sets up more square to the ball and releases the club more to the inside.
These days, he tends to release the club and everything a little bit more to the left because of changes he's made in his setup and swing, so we don't generally see the club head so far out in front of him.
Keeping the Hands "In Reserve"
What's good - if a little difficult - to see in this swing is that the club face is still very square as it comes out of impact.
If we walk through it frame by frame, we find the club head very quiet as Chuck rotates.
In this particular case he releases the club head more than usual because he's hitting a draw, but the point is that when you do all the steps correctly - from the setup to the backswing plane to the top of the swing to letting your arms be passive on the way down and rotating your body - this whole process keeps the club face in line with your body.
As long as you keep turning your chest and your core through the ball and don't do anything to manipulate it, the club face is going to stay square all the way through the shot.
That way, your hands are available if you want to use them - like Chuck does here for the draw. We like to say the hands are left "in reserve." You can release them here and hit a little bit of a draw and finesse the ball.
This shot was about a 3 yard draw. If Chuck wants to hit a 10 yard draw his hands are right there, in reserve.
When you're not always just flinging your hands through impact in an effort to square the club face, the hands are available to finesse the ball and work it when needed.
In this case, you'll see a little bit of a release for the draw and the club gets back to a toe-up position, but that wouldn't be necessary in a straight shot.
You don't have to release to hit it straight; just keep turning through, doing nothing with the arms and hands, and the club face stays square to the chest.
Shoulders: Back on Plane
We drew this red line to show Chuck's arm and shoulder plane at the top. Now we can see that his shoulders are back on that plane as he comes through after impact.
As you know, we're always talking about rotating the shoulders perpendicular to the spine and keeping them level throughout the entire golf swing.
It's hard to go wrong doing that, and more importantly it keeps you from having to manipulate the golf club.
You can see that Chuck's shoulders match up perfectly with their position in the backswing. It's simply a question of angles.
When you keep the things simple you're able to play good golf and build what we like to call a "low maintenance" golf swing.
That's what it's all about. Most of us out there don't have eight hours a day to go hit balls and hone and maintain a complicated golf swing. What we're doing here is creating a high performance, low maintenance golf swing.
That's the whole reason behind creating these angles and learning the fundamentals. That's why we teach the swing we do, the way we do.
Better yet, it's a golf swing that will last you a lifetime because it's not only low maintenance, it's also easier on the body. The Rotary Swing doesn't require you to do anything aggressive or crazy, and it doesn't require that you stay in peak physical shape to play good golf.
Follow Through and Release
As we come through and release, one of the things you'll see is that the club comes out just beneath Chuck's left shoulder.
Again, because he's hitting a draw it looks like it comes out just a little bit steeper than normal.
This is something else that's changed in Chuck's swing. He releases the club a little bit more underneath his left shoulder now, but there's nothing wrong with this older swing.
As the club shaft comes out we like it to be pretty similar to the 9:00 plane we talked about earlier. It's typically a little bit steeper.
There's nothing wrong with Chuck's club plane position here, shown in blue.
The club head is a little more released, again because of the draw. It would be a little bit more square at this point in a straight shot.
And he comes through and just continues to release everything on through to a full balanced finish. All in all it's a nice, relaxed, easy golf swing.
Watching the swing at full speed we can see that it's really just a matter of turning the body back and through. He's certainly not working hard to hit the golf ball solidly and get a good distance on it.
When you have a good setup and keep the swing on plane, getting the proper positions throughout the golf swing, there's no need to work hard because you're using the club efficiently.
That's very important if you want to be a consistent golfer with a low maintenance golf swing.
You have to be able to maintain what you've accomplished, and it also has to be doable for your body. You can't go out there and pound ball after ball after ball, honing and maintaining a really complicated golf swing. You have to keep it simple.
Hopefully this analysis of Chuck's swing helps you see that you can hit great golf shots too. It's just a simple set of fundamentals.
Once you understand the fundamentals, what they do and what they're for, you'll be able to improve and develop a golf swing that you can use for the rest of your life.
Checkpoints for Practice
- An analysis of Chuck's swing from down the line is a good review of Rotary Swing fundamentals
- At address, a line from the back of the shoulder goes through the front of the knees & out over the toes
- When the club is parallel to the ground the club head is in line with the hands, with the left arm angled toward the feet
- The club head goes back just under the shaft plane at address
- At the 9:00 plane the shaft points right at the ball, hands are over the right bicep, head unchanged from setup
- At the top the left arm & shoulders are on plane perpendicular to the spine
- Hands & arms stay soft at transition, getting a "free ride" for downcock & lag
- Begin the downswing with everything turning - hips, shoulders, core
- The club face stays basically square throughout the swing, leaving hands "in reserve" to work the ball as needed