Ringing the Bell in a Golf Downswing
“Ringing the bell” might sound like an unusual phrase for a sport in which everyone is supposed to remain quiet when a player swings. But the phrase has nothing to do with making a sound. Rather, it refers to the motion of a player’s arms, which resembles the actions of a bell ringer in an old church who pulls a rope downward to ring a bell. Different golf instructors use the bell-ringing image in a variety of ways when discussing or teaching downswing mechanics.
Golf writer Jeff Mann believes a right-handed player’s left arm should make the bell-ringing motion during the downswing. Mann notes that the left arm moves passively as the downswing begins, with its actions controlled by the player’s rotating upper body. The player’s rotation toward the target automatically pulls the left hand almost straight down, and the hand, of course, brings the club along for the ride. The downward motion of the left hand as it drops toward the impact zone is what Mann compares to a bell-ringing action.
Both of a player’s arms should pull the club down at the start of the downswing, according to teaching pro Mel Glover. Rather than letting your upper body’s rotation bring the club forward, Glover says, pull down with both hands so that the club returns along the same path it took during the backswing. Glover advises the player to keep his arms close to his body as he pulls the club down, using the bell-ringing motion until his arms are about waist-high.
PGA pro Warren Bottke says the player’s hands should take an active role in the downswing. He advises players who wish to improve the transition point from the backswing to the downswing to practice pausing at the top of the backswing, then pulling their hands and club down, using the rope-pulling motion. This drill will help teach golfers to bring the club down into a proper swing plane.
Golf instructor Bobby Lopez uses the bell-ringing image to help players move their shoulders properly on the downswing. Lopez says the first shoulder move during the downswing should be a forward tilt, rather than a rotation. In his version of the bell-ringing comparison, the bell is so heavy that the player can’t merely pull it down with his arms. Instead, he must lean forward and pull on the imaginary rope with his back shoulder as well.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.