The Double Pendulum Concept of a Golf Swing

This article is intended to bridge the gap between golf swing mechanics and playing golf through your instincts by understanding the importance of both an effective golf grip that allows your wrists to hinge and unhinge in your swing and the concept of a “double pendulum.” Having a general concept of the double pendulum mechanics in a golf swing can facilitate an awakening of the body/mind’s instinctive kinesthetic intelligence to develop an instinctive golf swing.

The example of a huge swinging church bell may help you understand the double pendulum concept. Visualize the body of the bell slowly swinging back and forth from its fulcrum and the internal gong swinging back and forth from its fulcrum in response to the swinging of the body of the bell. That’s the double pendulum – two objects, one below the other, swinging from their individual fulcrums.

Many athletic activities that use the hands and wrists to swing an object with speed and accuracy use the dynamics of a double pendulum, including a golf swing, a baseball swing, a tennis swing, or snapping a towel on the ground. An effective golf swing (whether it be a putting stroke, chip, pitch, or a full shot) is literally a double pendulum in motion. 

In a basic golf swing, the top pendulum is the “triangle” formed by the arms and shoulders rotating from the fulcrum of the sternum in the middle of the chest. The bottom pendulum in the golf swing is the hands and golf club swinging from the hinge (fulcrum) of the wrists similar to the fulcrum that allows the internal gong inside the bell to swing back and forth.

The golf swing is similar to swinging a baseball bat or a tennis racket in that the hold of the golf club, bat, and racket are all “leveraged in the fingers” so the wrists can hinge the club, bat, or racket back as the torso turns, unhinge to swing and hit the ball, and for right-handers, allow the right hand and forearm to release and rotate in the follow through. A proper golf swing, baseball swing, or tennis swing all use the rotation of the torso as the upper pendulum and the hands and wrists as the fulcrum of the lower pendulum to provide the momentum for the bat, racket, or golf club to swing. In its simplest, the torso rotates and the wrists and hands hinge and unhinge in response to the movement of the torso in order to swing the bat, racket, or golf club.

The golf club swings with speed and accuracy because of an instinctive response of the hands and wrists to the rotation of the upper pendulum of arms and torso. As long as the triangle of the arms and shoulders rhythmically rotates back and forth from a center fulcrum, and the golf grip on the golf club is leveraged in the fingers so the fulcrum of the wrists is activated, the golf club will swing almost effortlessly in response to the swing/rotation of the upper pendulum (arms and torso). 

A key element in the physics of this “double pendulum” is that the lower pendulum (wrists, hands, and golf club) does not swing because of a concerted effort. The golf club swings in response to the movement of the torso and because of the freedom facilitated by the hinge of the wrists. So, a key element in a simple golf swing and an effective golf swing is to have a golf grip where the golf club is leveraged in the fingers to facilitate the instinctive hinge and rotation of the hands and wrists.

“There is no action in golf less understood than
the use of the wrists, for curiously enough 
we do not have to work them, 
but we have to let them work themselves – like the hinges on a door.”
Percy Boomer (On Learning Golf)

Awaken Your Inner Golfer is not about golf swing technique or golf swing mechanics, but you will find an explanation, illustrations, and exercises to help you establish an effective golf grip so that the golf club is leveraged in the fingers to allow your wrists to function “like the hinges on a door.”  You will also find a simple explanation and illustrations to achieve the foundation of effective posture and golf stance to provide a stable base for the upper pendulum of the torso to move and rotate allowing the bottom pendulum of the hands and golf club to respond through the fulcrum of the wrists. 

As you establish an effective golf grip and effective posture and golf stance, your body/mind will then be free to express its instinctive kinesthetic intelligence  through the dynamics of a “double pendulum.”

This “golf swing tip” about golf swing basics is intended to facilitate your understanding of how to swing a golf club and how to play golf from your instincts, and help you feel the movement of a proper golf swing, not to involve you with golf swing mechanics. The next time you go to the practice range, visualize the double pendulum dynamics of the church bell as you make your swings and see what happens. See what that feels like. Explore and discover! 

If you can feel the effectiveness of a golf grip leveraged in the fingers and you can feel the double pendulum movement in a simple golf swing, you may have less need for golf swing tips, golf lessons, golf instruction videos, golf tips, golf swing videos, golf training, or golf instruction. 

Simply, if you can integrate the feel of the concepts of an effective grip and a double pendulum……you know how to golf!!  This is what Keep It Simple Golf is about – awakening your inner golfer to discover and enjoy an instinctive golf swing!

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