I've written about the belt buckle in previous posts on golf's triangles and always keeping the club in front, so I thought I'd write a little bit to unify the ideas, especially since this can be a key swing thought. This may be the most crucial golf swing thought for the full swing. Simple swing thoughts are best, and using the belt buckle is one way to unify a lot of swing thoughts and fundamentals and keep the approach to golf as simple as possible.
Your belt and belt buckle--especially when related to the butt end of the club handle--can show you a lot of things.
First, the belt buckle shows you whether you've made a good setup posture and address position. As Brian Manzella has stated, the belt buckle should point down toward the ball at address (at an angle) and the butt end of the club should point toward the belt buckle. It's almost as if your club is an extension of your belt buckle; in a sense, your belt is a loop around which the swing is powered. This will ensure that you have the correct pelvic tilt (i.e., protruding rear end) and that the club (and thus hands and arms) is in the correct orientation.
Second, the belt buckle shows you how to do a good takeaway or pivot back. In the beginning of your swing, the belt buckle and butt end of the club should maintain a close relationship. That is, the butt end of the club will continue pointing at the belt buckle, or remain close to the belt buckle, during the takeaway. Only once your club reaches waist height should the wrists begin hinging the club upward; the butt end of the club will begin to point down the target line but will still be in close proximity to the belt buckle, before the right arm folds into the full backswing. Think of the club shaft as an extension of the belt buckle in the takeaway.
Third, the belt buckle leads the downswing. As the downswing begins, the club's butt end and belt buckle become the most disassociated, with the club handle trailing the belt buckle. During the swing, the butt end of the club and the belt buckle quickly and dynamically become reassociated at impact, when the left arm and club reach an inline condition. In other words, the club handle quickly catches up with the belt buckle through impact. The club and hands finally pass the belt buckle on the followthrough and fully disassociate again at the top of the finish. Simply moving the belt buckle over your left leg WHILE AT THE SAME TIME turning the belt buckle to the target (while the shoulders remain closed and arms remain unengaged) may be the best swing thought for the downswing, as this reflects starting the downswing from the ground up (i.e., leading with the hips). Think of the club shaft as an extension of your belt buckle and imagine you're hitting the ball with your belt buckle (as if a club was extending from it). This thought will help you time the arms with the body and not get stuck (arms trailing too far behind); in other words, this thought is great for properly synchronizing the arms with the body rotation. Remember, the club shaft and belt buckle disassociate and reassociate based on vertical movement of the arms from the shoulder joints, not horizontal movement; the club, hands, and arms should always stay in front of the torso!
Finally, the belt buckle shows you where your ball is heading. Turn the body through so that the belt buckle points towards your starting line. If your belt buckle points right at the end of your swing, your ball is likely starting there (with the right spin, it may not end up there). Same thing if pointing left.
Another way to consider this concept is to visualize a 4-inch elastic cord connecting the end of your club to your belt buckle (there have been similar training aids available on the market). At address and during the takeaway, the 4-inch distance is maintained, but the cord begins to stretch in the backswing, creating stored energy. As the belt buckle dynamically turns towards the target and the left leg straightens, the energy is released and the elastic cord quickly returns to its original 4-inch length at impact (when the left arm and club reach an inline condition). Finally, the cord again stretches on the followthrough and to the top of the finish.
The belt and the belt buckle is a terrific alignment tool you can legally use on the course for a number of good things in the address position, posture, and swing. The butt end of the club handle (and thus the hands) are closely associated with the belt buckle in the takeaway, slowly disassociated from it to the top of the backswing, and then QUICKLY reassociated with it through the downswing and into impact. Then they dissassociate again on the other side. But remember, the hands and club handle should be close to the belt buckle again at impact (almost as if extending out of it, center-mast)!
In order for your belt buckle to point at the target on your finish, you must rotate your hips powerfully through the ball on the downswing. Powerful hip rotation alone, however, is not enough. You must also have a proper release and good lag on your downswing. But one of the easiest things to think about and visualize is where your belt buckle ends up as you complete your swing. Therein lies the power of the tip.
For each, square the face, angle the shaft, then stand to the handle so the grip points at your belt. That establishes the correct ball position.
Top 100 Teacher Shawn Humphries says to keep your club pointed at your belt to stay on plane and hit better shots.
At impact the golfer’s belt buckle will have shifted well left of the golf ball and will have begun turning left. The hands will also preferably be past the ball on all shots but the driver.
Point the butt of the club at your belt buckle and your belt line toward the ball.
THE CLUB STAYS IN FRONT OF ME
My coach, Chuck Cook, says I do a great job of keeping the club in front of my body throughout the swing. Amateurs tend to swing mostly with their arms, so the body lags behind; better players can get fast with the body turn, so the arms lag behind. If you focus on turning back and through with the club staying in front of your chest, you'll find it easier to square the clubface and hit straighter shots.