Most great athletes who play other sports, but also play golf, will usually tell you in no uncertain terms that golf is the most difficult sport they’ve ever played. This interesting phenomenon is true more so with football players than baseball or hockey players, but even many of them can find the mastery of golf to be problematic. The reason for this revolves around the fact that most good athletes are physically strong, and their instinct to use strength as opposed to body mass on the golf ball is almost overwhelming. In fact, the instinct to use muscle in the down-swing is in all players when they begin the game, whether they are strong or not. What most players fail to realize, is that they are using their strength not only on the ball, but on themselves as well. Leverage is a fascinating tool, but as with electricity, the energy will go both ways through the wire (the arms and club in a golf swing) simultaneously. When a player flexes the shoulders and arms in the down-swing, part of the energy goes out of the body to the golf ball, but some of it, at the same time, goes back into the body, against the pivotal axis (the front leg). The third law of motion says that “for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.” The reaction to the muscular flex in the downswing shows itself in the form of a path (or plane) change. That statement is not a David or Danny Lee opinion, it is a physics law! Golf balls rarely sprout feet and walk into the new swing path! The path change, unless compensated for by alignment, grip, posture, ball position, club-face manipulation, etc., will cause the ball to go off-line.
In an ideal swing (from both a physics and physiological standpoint), the down-swing starts by moving the body off-vertical, like tipping a barrel to roll it, the arms and club start down in a pure dead-fall, and the rotation of the core slings them through the impact area. By using gravity to start the downswing, the plane change that occurs when the shoulders and arms are flexed, is eliminated, and the path integrity is maintained. Moving the golf ball with connected body mass instead of through using muscular strength, is far better from a physics standpoint and much easier on the body.
Strength in the human body is a two-edged sword. If used properly, it is a great asset. If it is used inadvertently against oneself in the process of creating power for the shot, it becomes a liability. Technique is everything in the game of golf. Possessing a powerful body can be a wonderful thing, but as with most gifts in life, it carries a responsibility for using it correctly. Great athletes should have a significant advantage playing our great game, but only if their strength is used in a manner that keeps it under control.