Today I would like to talks about the #1 problem in golf swings that people tend to have. It goes back to clichés that are predominating in golf. Golf, many times is taught by clichés. Your dad or your uncle or grandfather may be the one that teaches you how to play at a young age. You get a lot of common advice, things like; “keep your head down”, “keep your eye on the ball”, “shift your weight”,” follow through” and so on. Many of these are repeated so much that they become cliché, and this one I call the killer cliché because it kills golf swings more than any other one and it is:”keep your head down, keep your eye on the ball”, it’s really two but I think of it as one because you always hear them together.
When I set up to a golf ball, I’m going to put this club over my shoulders and I’m going to put another club on the ground here like this. I am going to get in my posture and the heel of this club is just touching the ball of my right foot and just extends straight out and is now at a right angle to the target line. I’m going to put this club over my shoulders and I’m going to stabilize my right leg so it doesn’t roll and slide and I’m just going to turn my right shoulder so the club head goes behind me and I’m going to match up these two shafts.
Now, if I put a ball there and then I look at the ball as if I’m hitting a shot... Tell me if my head moved. It did, didn’t it? It didn’t really move a lot but it did rotate. If I had a pencil taped to the visor of my hat it would now be pointing behind the ball more than it was here... So in order to rotate my shoulders the full 90 degrees and stay tilted, my left shoulder, as it comes around, will start to push my chin. And it’s going to rotate my head just a little bit.
Now it’s true that I’m looking back at the golf ball and perhaps I don’t have as clear a vision on that golf ball as when I started. But if I didn’t let my head rotate if I kept it perfectly stationary what would happen is id be looking right down at the ball trying real hard to keep my head still and keep my eye on the ball just like dad told me, and my left shoulder will get here… and nothing gives. Well that’s as far as I can turn now, so if I’m swinging a golf club and I get to here and I can’t turn my shoulders any more I don’t feel like I have a full backswing. So what I’m going to do to compensate is try and make the swing go farther. I’m going to manufacture something and they way most people do that is they get here, everything stops, then they start to slide the legs , roll on the outside of the foot. When the legs go that way the arms can lift more and then the arms lift and this is a classic reverse pivot or reverse weight shift. Well from here, what’s going to happen is my shoulders are going to0 spin this way I’m going to swing over the top, then I’m going to stand up and try to suck the club back into my body and try and catch a piece of the ball.
This piece of advice which almost everybody gets when they are a new golfer immediately starts to affect their swing in a bad way. It’s a problem that creates symptoms, and what people do unfortunately, is they see the only the symptoms of this problem. One of the symptoms is my legs or hips will slide. Another very common problem is I bend my left arm. Why am I bending my left arm? Well, if I kept my left arm straight and I only turn to there, that’s it. So I’m going to bend my arm to try and feel like I have more length to my swing.
The whole body action breaks down and it’s a real problem for golfers but they don’t see that as the problem because they think (and perfectly logically because they’ve been told by someone of authority) that they should keep their head still. So they try very hard to do it and it’s usually the last thing they look at as the problem but it really should be the first thing.
So if we do this drill it’s a great way to just get that feeling of pivoting correctly. And I’ll turn this way in a second to show you what it looks like from the side... I’m going to turn and match up these two shafts and I can feel my right side, my right hip and my right shoulder go back behind me. I feel a definite weight shift; I’ve stayed in my tilt. Now I do the under and up. From the side it looks like this: 1… 2. As I’m swinging the club, yes I do want to see the ball; yes I do want to not pick up. By the way, I’ve never seen anyone not look at the object their trying to hit. I’ve never seen anybody hitting a golf ball looking up at the sky when the ball was still down there. In fact, again people try too hard to keep their head down.
So, I’m going to swing back, and start to feel that movement of my shoulder. Another good drill to practice pivot is to get in your posture, dangle your left arm, and grab your left shoulder with your right hand. Or if that’s too strenuous just grab your triceps right above the elbow. Then just pull with your right side and feel that pivot. You’ll feel all those things, you’ll feel the weight shift, and you’ll feel the left shoulder coming around. You want to get your left shoulder over the inside of your right foot. Whatever your head does to allow you to do that is perfectly fine. As you get a little older and less flexible there might even be a little more movement here. Then I’m just going to turn back and step onto my left foot.
So don’t worry if your head feels like it moves a little bit. Again, don’t mistake me; I’m not trying to say that your head can be flying all over the place. The movement is minimal but it has to be enough to allow this shoulder to come around over here. That allows your left arm to stay straight. That allows you to get nice and deep in your backswing. So that you get a good position here so that we come down on the correct path to the golf ball. Hit the ball solid instead of swinging out and chopping across.
So try the pivot drill. I think you’ll find that not only do get more flexible and get more of a pivoting and rotating which certainly is going to increase your power but you’ll find that is just improving everything in terms of balance and tempo.