Rolf and Golf


What is a line?

Being centered around a line
Golfers can benefit through Structural Integration
The nature of a pendulum in motion

Ten sessions realting to the golf swing

What is a line?
It is astonishing to me that so much attention and time has and will be spent on Ida Rolf’s elementary idea. A line. A simple concept that opens up worlds of possibilities and potential. What I will attempt to do in this paper is take this simple idea that has endless possibilities and apply the principles to my physical reality. From my experience the work reveals itself not in the classroom or in a book but out in the real world, doing and experiencing activities that I enjoy. Not to say that studying concepts and ideas are not real to me, but by integrating the work into everyday life the concepts become real. I am able to walk the talk. For me this work reveals itself in many facets of my life but the area where I enjoy thinking and discussing the work is through the game of golf. I would like to take a simple journey through the “recipe” and discuss how these ideals of the recipe when applied to the analysis of a golf swing can improve one’s golf game. Before getting into the details of how the recipe can help and improve a golfers swing. I would like to talk a little about the idea of a Line. What is a line? It can be seen as a connection between two points. In Taoist terms the way of the Tao is the connection between heaven and earth. Common sense tells us, what is the shortest distance between two points? A Straight Line. A line is perfect; man merely strives for perfection, but never seems to reach it. A line is an unreachable ideal yet we still intend toward this direction. A quote from Blues Traveler from their song “Oops” sums up the feel that best describes our strive toward the idea of a line:
We can image the straightest lines
But our fingers can’t control the pens
And it’s frustration that yields relief
As we just say we are just mortal men

Being centered around a line
Why do we work toward something that we can never reach? It is something that has been instill in us by God to just give us something to do? Who knows? But I do believe that these ideas have been given to us to experience. In Rolf talk we work with our intention to move individuals toward being centered around a line that shoots through our core down into the earth and out towards the heavens, a line that goes through us and connects us to something greater than our consciousness. We weave left and right, up and down, front to back always working toward being in, with, part of this line. Why? Simply to experience. Emmett Hutchins talks about stepping into and out his line, which tells me that it something that we work on. Once we have felt it does not mean that it is always with us. We are constantly working on improving and getting toward this ideal that constantly eludes us. But once in awhile with practice, we get it! Like wise with the game of golf. This line that golfers work toward is the hole, or target if you will. An ideal shot would be that with every shot it would end up in the hole, but we all realize that this is impossible. It is golfers attempt to find the most efficient line toward that target possible. The line can be thought of as the connection between point A being the location where the individual strikes the ball, and point B the location of the hole. Once a golfer hit that ball on the line of their intention, the experience becomes addictive to go out on to the range and work on that line. Refining this line becomes a passion for many who love the game, likewise for us practitioners of Structural Integration. Golf and Structural Integration works with the idea of a line is rooted and based on the idea of intention. Even though we do not hit our mark every time we always intend toward our target. Intention manifests into direction. We would like to see this direction as a straight line. To me this is the strongest lesson that my studies of Structural Integration have taught me. Emmett Hutchins in his closing remarks during my auditing phase of training said to our class with tears coming down his face. “The only advice I have to you is to work on finding your line. It will be your guide.” A simple, yet powerful statement that I will take with me for a long time and one that can be a mantra on a golf
course.

Golfers can benefit tremendously through Structural Integration
It is my true belief that golfers can benefit tremendously through Structural Integration due to the idea that improvement of experience is rooted in the intention of improving one’s line with respect to gravity. And by improving one’s inner rolf line a golfer with understanding can see this manifest itself on the golf course through straighter shots and more consistent play. Emmentt Hutchins stated, “All great athletes use their intrinsic.” The psoas is our focus. It is not only the rolf muscle but also the golf muscle. It is the muscle that maintains our sense of balance through the pelvis. The pelvis is a very powerful area which simple put can be thought of our center of power with regards to a golf swing. Ida Rolf also believed that true strength is centered in balance. By balancing our core we strengthen our line. The same principle applies to a swing of the club
It is first important to establish what we are intending to accomplish in regards to the Structural Integration and with a golf swing. A Structural Integration practioners goal is making a fluid effortless body is also the goal of an effective swing. In both cases we are trying to establish an ideal of balance in regards to gravity. By doing this we help create a body that is more efficient in it’s transfer of weight from top to bottom, left to right, front to back. With greater efficiency comes less entropy, which leads to a highly energized system both physically and mentally. These are all steps necessary to improve one’s game. This efficient weight transfer is required for effective golf swing to track down our target line. What is an effective golf swing? Simply put it is a series of balanced twists and coils that are coordinated to produce a golf ball to travel along a line of intention.
Because of the nature of the golf stance, our idea of a line needs to be broken into smaller segments compared to the rolf line. It is important to look at the spine as our focus with regards to the line. In the golf swing the line that we work with stops at the tip of the spine were the body then has to bend at the waist. Ideally we would like to see this twist of the spine during a golf swing to be centered around the ideal of a line within the spine. Without this idea of a line with in the spine, a golfer’s swing will wobble around the spine. Like our main focus in the ten series, here the psoas is our focus. For a golf swing to be effective we like to see the psoas gently twist a straight spine into a coil and then allow the spine to stay
balanced as it begins to unwind during the down swing.

The nature of a pendulum in motion
When looking at an efficient golf swing what we like to see is a slow deep twist of the spine starting from the base of the spine working it’s way up vertebra to vertebra, to the beat of a certain rhythm. This rhythm is usually described as tempo. After one has addressed the ball and taken their aim of intention this tempo should be smooth deep and powerful during the take away from the golf ball up to the fully coiled position to where it reaches it’s apex. At this moment it is very important to have a smooth transfer of weight from the coil action to the recoil action. This is a feeling that cannot be pin pointed because every one has different sensations to the same stimuli. Therefore I would like to use the image of a pendulum. When watching the nature of a pendulum in motion we find that during the moment that the pendulum begins to change directions after it has been put into motion that it begins to slow down before it comes to momentary pause and then slowly begins to move in the opposite direction where it begins to pick up momentum. This is a critical moment in the golf swing where many individuals fail. David Lee in his book Gravity Golf states that it is imperative at this moment to allow your hand to fall into gravity. In rolf talk this allows the golf swing to retrack along our line of intention that was established during the coil phase. If the coil phase of the swing is considered tracking, then the recoil/release phase is essentially retracking. This is all rooted in our sense and relationship to gravity. If an individual does not establish this sense during the moment that the hands begin to fall, unnecessary muscles will engage to redirect the swing along the line of intention. Most of the time this results in too much extrinsic muscle movement that pulls the body out of its line of intention, resulting in an errant shot.

Ten sessions relating to the golf swing
I would like to go through the sessions and talk about some ideas that come to mind with regards to each session and how they can relate to a golf swing. My main focus of discussion will be the first and last three sessions of the ten.
First Session
The first hour of the recipe is designed to increase one vitally capacity and to give our client the sense of the line. Our intention as SI practioners is to give awareness of a greater potential available to our client. With golfer they are always looking for and edge that will give them a few extra yards, or something that will cut off a few strokes. Our intention is to give freedom of this line through the spine. To increase vital capacity we first have to create space for it to go. We do this in the first session by working with the breath around the lungs As we free up space to allow the lungs to increase their capacity, we also give the freedom for the lung that can be seen as cylinders to spin freely around the spine. More freedom of the thorax the deeper the twist can get toward movement with the psoas
Second Session.
It is our feet that are the sensors for the psoas to balance. It is our feet that are our feelers for the psoas. The feet are merely extensions of the psoas. So with our sensors of the feet we should be able to gently throw the spine into a gently twist via the psoas. By creating space within the feet gives a sense through out the legs that we intend to eventually be felt all the way into the psoas. Ida Rolf and her play with word said that “The feet ‘under-stand’ everything in the body.” To me this translates that the feet can feel any in-balance throughout the body. I like to think of balance in regards to a golf swing has the ability to maintain a smooth transfer of weight from one side to the other. When weight is thrown from one side to the other, the receiving is usually overloaded. The sense of balance is lost. The body’s attention goes instantaneously to regaining it’s sense of balance, losing is focus of intention. By maintaining a sense of balance one can then stay focused on their intention. The main focus of the second hour in regards to improving a swing is to create feet that are more sensitive to balance rather than feet that hold a body in place.
Third Session.
Here in the third hour as SI practioners we work to establish a lateral line that runs from the greater trocanter to the head of the humerus. Here is where I thinks is the most important step with the recipe in regards to a golf swing. When we establish a lateral line during the third hour, what we are doing to a golf swing is making a direct distinction between the front of the body and the back. Our specific awareness with the third session and its effect on a golf swing is to bring awareness to the scapula.
In David Lee’s book Gravity Golf he states that it should be the muscles in the back and shoulders that should start the back swing or the coil phase. He uses the analogy of pick up a long 2x4 from one end to move it. To lift up the opposite end that is being held, the body must first counter balance the pull forward by putting weight back first into the heels and then in the back. He states that this should be the sense when one has when they begin the take away or back swing. The sense should be of a triangle that runs from the sacrum out to the two shoulders moving as one unit that is balanced from the heel. From a SI practioners view this is accomplished by addressing the main component within that triangle, the scapula. To maintain this idea of a triangle in the back it is important to first isolate and establish a working relationship within the scapula to keep the integrity of this triangle of the back. If the scapula are not balanced to one another during a swing via the rhomboids, they will pull and disrupt the sense of a line through the spine that we are trying to maintain throughout the golf swing.
If the scapula creep up the back during the recoil/release phase the body has to compensate for the redistribution of weight. This redistribution is felt in the feet. Usually when the scapula move up during the recoil, an individual will move more weight to the front of the feet onto their toes allowing the heel to move up, resulting in a shot that starts left of the target and then fades to the right. What a golfer will call a slice. No bueno! In a nutshell to help an individual with a slice it is important create space with in the heel to keep it connected to the earth and to prevent the scapulas from pulling it up. If on keeps their scapula and heels down this can be a major step toward one eliminating the all to common slice.
We would like to see the whole upper body move as one unit during the take away. To do this one needs to allow the legs to throw the upper body in motion. We know as SI practioners that the avenue from upper to lower body is the psoas. By working with the idea of maintaining a sense of balance with the scapula to keep the integrity of this back triangle and understanding that it is the legs that twist this triangle via the psoas a SI Practioner can see the connection of working toward establishing a psoas- rhomboid balance and it’s effect on a golf swing.
Fourth, Fifth, Six and Seventh.
The first three session of the recipe when applying it to a golf swing are the most important, because they establish an awareness of ideals that can be seen as things to being to work towards. One cannot expect to come and get a 10 series and go out without putting out some time and effort on improving their game. Therefore with a relationship with the ten series and the golf swing, the core sessions merely work on improving the ideas and principles of the first three sessions. The fourth merely builds on the idea of the second of getting the feet to feel and move the psoas with help of the adductors. The fifth is there to get down into the core to get that psoas to move in relation to our work from the third and second. The sixth is there to get into the rotators to help with balance throughout the pelvis. While the seventh hour is to balance the head on top of the system. I am not saying that these sessions are not valuable to helping a golfer, but in relation to a golf swing these session are rooted with in the first three. Even though they are invaluable, the purpose of these sessions can be seen to improving and fine-tuning the work that was already addressed in the first three hours
Eight, Ninth and Ten
Here is where we begin to integrate the series truly to a golf swing. I highly recommend and would like to look at the drills devised by David Lee with his Gravity Golf approach. He has devised drills which put the golfer into a position were one can learn an efficient golf swing with the speed that a child learns how to walk. Each drill can be seen to help each girdle with regards to the other. By doing the drills they help complement the integration of the upper to the lower girdle.
The drills are based on the idea of gravity. By putting the body in a position where gravity is the teacher the body is able to adapt to it’s new environment. His drills are centered around the idea of taking away our normal sense of support. Instead of hitting range balls in our normal swing he has individual hit golf balls from one leg. By doing this it puts the player in an unusual environment, which he is not accustom to therefore must adapt. One of the basic principles of being human and working with the body that we were given is that the body does not want to fall down. There is something ingrained into the system that wants to move up. Therefore the body begins to pay attention to the leg that the player is standing on and focuses on fine-tuning those muscles within the leg to keep the player from falling over. We as SI practioners see this as waking up the intrinsic muscles. His drills are merely ways have waking up and exercising our intrinsic muscles. It is the intrinsic muscles that keep our balance and keep us on our line both in our work and on the golf course.
The drills can be applied to the upper girdle and the lower girdle either using one arm to swing or standing on one leg to swing or a combination of the two and are excellent drills to introduce the client after the session at hand. These drills in my view are equally as powerful as arm and leg rotations to give to a client who would like to improve their game.
In closing the ideas addressed with Ida Rolf regarding a line are effective thought tools to take out onto the golf course. Along with the ideas of gravity and using drills devised to help wake up our intrinsic muscles gives ideals to work with for a lifetime.