The Goal: Have An AK-47 Golf Swing

The AK-47 is a marvel of modern engineering.  Created for use in the severe climates of the Soviet Union, the AK-47 possesses relatively loose tolerances and is able to function even if its components are fouled by debris.

The AK-47 is a marvel of modern engineering. Created for use in the severe climates of the Soviet Union, the AK-47 possesses relatively loose tolerances and is able to function even if its components are fouled by debris.

Guns, in the United States of America, are an instant fistfight, hot-button issue, because everyone has an opinion on them, and most of those opinions are very strong.

Regulation of guns and gun ownership is one of a handful of lingering cultural and political battle-fronts that will never be won or lost, but continually fought as long as there is a Constitution of the United States.

Being from the American South, I have working knowledge and healthy respect for guns and gun safety, but I’m far from an enthusiast.  The inherited circa 1860’s shotgun  in my basement, which hasn’t been fired in 100+ years, is the full extent of my firearms love affair.

Nevertheless, politics aside, I am periodically amazed by the engineering and craftsmanship that has gone into the manufacture of guns.  About once a season, I get sucked into some show on the Military or History Channel detailing the story behind some “game changing” weapon or some relic I remember from Cold War movies.

Of particular fascination to me, and my golf game, is the (in)famous Soviet designed AK-47.  Viewed by many as the most reliable rifle ever conceived, the AK-47 was unique amongst modern rifles for how loose and variation tolerant it was compared to its Western counterparts.

There are purposefully very few fragile, delicate components making up an AK-47.

There are purposefully very few fragile, delicate components making up an AK-47.

The brilliance of the AK-47, and the source of its legendary reliability, is that it was designed and constructed to tolerate and overcome variation of conditions and debris by fitting most of its components together very loosely.  Aside from a few essential components, which are tightly joined at the factory, the AK-47 contains bulky parts that fit together almost casually.

There are very few tight connections and spaces in the AK-47, as compared to the precision of relationship between components required for, say, the American M-16, to function effectively.

This feature allows the AK-47 to continue firing reliably even if dirt or other debris attaches itself to a cartridge or firing component.  “A field-stripped AK-47 contains nothing you’ll need to grope for if you drop it in tall grass (or mud, or a stream) in the dark,” according to the WeaponsMan blog.

I can’t think of a more apt metaphor for what I want out of my golf swing.

My instructor has given me all the knowledge I need to create and develop a good golf swing.  At this point, there are just a small list of little swing thoughts to remember as I’m warming up, then maintaining the confidence to just go play.

As I continue to work, I am discovering one of the truly amazing things about the swing I’ve developed: I don’t have to worry about being precise in executing every little component of my swing every time.  Sure, I want my swing and my results to be consistent, but that will not necessarily result if my mind and my swing are tension-filled, focused on trying to control the result.

I realize this AK-47 analogy is a long way from Mr. Penick's "swing the bucket" teaching aid, but it works for me.

I realize this AK-47 analogy is a long way from Mr. Penick’s “swing the bucket” teaching aid, but it works for me.

Yes, ideally, I would swing perfectly on plane, be completely square at impact, and hold the same angle through the finish on every swing.  And that is an admirable goal to strive for, but it can’t the standard on which I judge my results.

That sort of thinking will only lead to a rigidity (picture a left elbow locked to the point of near hyper-extension from address through contact) that does more harm than good.

No, for me, the “theme” of my golf swing, if you will is this: relax, relax, relax.  If I’m relaxed, if the muscles of my arms, legs, and torso are relaxed, then I can execute all of the individual movements of my golf swing with ease and fluidity.  If I’m just a little off on one part of the swing, I can still correct it before impact.

But, if I’m stiff and tense, then I can’t make a full turn, maintain a plane, or create lag with my wrists that are the real keys to a crisp, repeating full swing.

I need to remember that if I maintain low tension levels at address, my swing will be fluid and I will be quicker, faster, and have the clubface in a better position at impact than if I try to force the issue through strain and brute force.

In short, as weird as it may sound, I want to have an AK-47 golf swing.

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