The golf swing is primarily a rotational
movement of the body in which the big muscles of the shoulders and hips
dominate. The small muscles of the
hands and arms simply follow this movement and respond to this rotation. As a result, proper weight shift during
the golf swing is attained by this body rotation.
In this article, we’ll discuss some long held
beliefs about the golf swing and try to explain how some of these beliefs have
actually inhibited the learning of a correct golf swing motion. Let’s get started:
Misconception #1: Keep the left arm (or
lead arm) straight or stiff.
Reasons why this is not true: If the left (lead) arm is kept rigid and
stiff throughout the entire swing motion, the arms will work independently of
the body. Also, the stiffness in
the arm will induce tension and limit the rotation of the left shoulder.
Misconception #2: Keep your head
the golfer has his head buried in his chest, he will inevitably lift it up as he
comes into impact. The “head down”
syndrome limits the ability of the shoulders to turn under the chin. Usually, the head position is a result
of poor posture at set-up.
Misconception #3: Keep your head
the golfer keeps his head absolutely still, he will limit his ability to rotate
and get his weight over the back leg.
There are very few tour players who can keep their heads absolutely
still. Most players allow their
heads to move just slightly in order to get an acceptable shoulder turn. Usually the head moves with the upper
spine on the backswing until it has moved about two inches from where it
Misconception #4: The center of your golf swing is the
sternum or the center of your golf swing is the head.
we pivot around a point of our body (the sternum or the head), we will never be
able to get the weight shifted over the right leg (for right-handed
golfers). Actually, the center of
the swing is the posterior lower spine just below the small of the lower back.
Misconception #5: There is lateral motion away from and
towards the target during the swing.
Since the golf swing is a circular motion with the club, we must create a
rotary motion with our bodies.
There is little, if any, lateral motion during the swing. Essentially, what appears to be lateral
motion is simply rotation of the body until the right hip is over the right heel
on the backswing and the left hip has rotated over the left heel on the forward
swing (for right-handed golfers).
Misconception #6: The arms swing and the body simply
responds to that motion or the hands and arms move first and then the shoulders
and hips follow.
If the hands and arms move first in the backswing, the
shoulders will turn late in the backswing.
As a result, the golfer will lose his extension and create an overly long
and loose swing that is likely to come outside and over-the-top on the
Actually, the first part of the backswing, should be a
one-piece movement with the hands, arms, clubhead, shoulders and hips all moving
away together. This insures a
weight shift, arm and club extension and a firm and short swing.
Furthermore, if the swing produces centrifugal force,
the center of the swing must move first to create the force. The true center of the swing is located
in the posterior lower spine somewhere behind the hips. This part moves first and the hands,
arms, and clubhead simply respond to this initial movement. The big muscles of the shoulders, back
and hips are the slowest moving, yet most powerful muscles in the body. These muscles move first and keep the
faster moving muscles of the hands and arms under control. Correct movement is always produced from
the center of the body outward never from the clubhead inwards.
Misconception #7: Feel like you are sitting on a bar stool
with the weight back on the heels at the start of the
we sit back on the heels at address, we are likely to have the knees over-
flexed. With weight on the heels
and over-flexed knees, we are not able to rotate the lower body because of
abducted hips. Also, when starting
with weight on the heels, there’s usually no place to move except to the toes.
Misconception #8: The ball position changes for the
different clubs in the bag. For
example, the ball should be positioned forward for the driver and back towards
the center of the stance for the nine iron.
What appears to be a change in ball position with the shorter clubs is
really only a narrower, more open stance with the weight distributed more on the
front leg at the start of the swing.
The ball actually looks like it is being played in the center of the
stance for a nine iron and off the left heel for the driver. In reality, the ball position will be
approximately the same for both the woods and the irons. It is the open and narrow stance that
makes the ball appear back in the stance with the short irons. Essentially, there is only one bottom to
your swing arc if we are going to create any consistently struck golf shots.
Misconception #9: The club moves straight away from the
ball on the takeaway.
The golf swing is a side of the line hitting game. By this, I mean that we are standing to
the side of the ball. Because of
the way we are set up, we must arc the club inside the target line as we take it
back. In addition to this, the
hands and the arms follow the body rotation both on the backswing and the
downswing. If we follow the
principle, then the turning of the shoulders and hips will naturally cause the
club to come a little inside the target line on the
Misconception #10: The weight starts on the right leg (for
right-handed golfers) at the start of the swing.
the weight started on the back leg at the address, it would be impossible to
make a rotational move with the body.
Because of this, the golfer would become a hand and arm player. Also, if the weight is set to the right
at address, it is likely to move to the left on the backswing. This is the reverse weight shift that
most golfers have in their golf swings.
Actually, the weight shift should start slightly forward
on the front leg. From this
position, the golfer has somewhere to move – to the right side.
Misconception #11: Restrict your hips on the backswing and
coil your shoulders against them.
the golfer restricts his hip turn on the backswing, he will limit the range of
motion of the shoulder turn. Only
the very flexible and coordinated golfer is able to do
In reality, the hips control the shoulders both on the
backswing and the downswing.
Therefore, if the golfer restricts his hip turn, he will restrict his
shoulder turn. With a restricted
shoulder turn, the golfer is likely to start the downswing with the shoulders
unwinding ahead of the hips. This
will produce pulls and pull slices.
Misconception #12: We should return to the address position
impact, we see pictures of the tour stars that show them with the majority of
their weight on their lead leg with hips opened to the target line and shoulders
parallel to the target line. In
fact, the hips are just slightly forward of the position they started in. The mistake most people make here is
they slide their hips too far forward on the downswing creating weight shift and
balance problems at impact.
In reality, the shoulders out-turn the hips on the
backswing. This allows the hips to
move first on the downswing and to open up and stay ahead of the shoulders at
Misconception #13: The golfer should consciously try to
release the club. This definition
of release means to pronate and supinate the hands and arms and to consciously
try to turn the club over through the impact area.
Correct body (shoulder and hip) rotation will automatically create
correct hand and arm rotation. Any
conscious effort to open or close the clubface, either on backswing or
downswing, will most likely create an inconsistency in your ball striking. Any conscious effort to try to release
the clubhead is a compensation for poor body rotation.
If the golf swing is a circular motion in which
centrifugal force is produced, the inertia and the weight of the swinging
clubhead will automatically create the release.
Misconception #14: The power source in the golf swing comes
from the hands, arms, and wrists.
We should try to snap our wrists as we come into the impact area.
Power in the golf swing comes from leverage (swing arc), torsion (Body
rotation), and weight shift. In
order to achieve these three goals, we must rotate our bodies. This real power source in the golf swing
is the hips. The faster we move the
hips in the downswing, the faster the hands and arms will work. There is no conscious use of the wrists
and hands through the impact area.
The hands and arms rotate in response to body
Misconception #15: The golfer should stay behind the ball
long after the ball is hit. A
corollary to this is that the golfer should keep his head down and right (or
left) shoulder back for as long as possible after
is true that the head is behind the ball at the point of contact. But, just after impact, the forceful
unwinding of the shoulders should allow the head to rotate with the shoulders
and come up to of the shot. Any
effort to keep the head and right shoulder back behind the ball after the point
of contact will cause the weight to stay on the back leg. This error will cause all kinds of poor
shots including pulls, pull hooks and push fades.
In reality, the shoulders turn about 200 degrees on the
forward swing. The shoulders
actually catch up to and pass the hips just after impact. At the finish of the swing, the right
shoulder should be just slightly higher than the left with the chest facing the
left of the target line and the hips facing directly down the target line. This finish position insures that the
shoulders have out-turned the hips and a correct weight shift to the left leg
has been made.
Misconception #16: The golfer should pull the club down
from the top of the swing with the left (or right) hand and arm. Another related statement would ask the
golfer to pull the butt of the club at the ball on the
the golfer pulls the butt of the club down on the downswing or pulls down with
the left (or right) hand or arm on the downswing, he creates angles with his
arms. In this case, pulling down
with the left hand and arm will force the left elbow up to the sky which will
leave the clubface open through impact.
Better advice might be “start the downswing with eh lower body and try to
keep the elbows down throughout the entire swing motion.” If the golfer turns his hips through the
ball instead of sliding through it, the clubface will naturally close and the
left arm will fold downward after impact.
In addition to this, the golf swing, is a bilateral
motion and shouldn’t be dominated by either the right or left side of the body.
Misconception #17: The path of the clubhead on a correct
golf swing is inside-outside.
Reasons: Most of us have been taught to swing
inside-outside. Unfortunately, this
is not correct. If the golfer
swings excessively inside-outside, he will push face and hook most of his golf
shots. It might feel like we are
swinging inside-outside, but what really should happen is this: The golf club approaches the ball from
inside the target line through impact, and then moves off the left of the target
line after impact. This occurs
because the hands and arms follow the body rotation both on the backswing and
downswing. It is this “inward – to
straight – to inward” club movement that creates a natural release of the
clubhead through impact and divots that point slight left on the target line.
Misconception #18: The weight stays centered throughout the
entire swinging motion.
Reasons: If the weight stayed centered throughout
the entire swing, the golfer would be unable to make a weight shift. Also, the golf swing is n elliptical arc
(egg-shaped). This type of arc is
created because the golfer is working out of two shoulder sockets and two hip
sockets. On the backswing, the
shoulder and hip turn create a weight shit over the right heel. Finally, on the downswing, the movement
of the fee, knees and hips create a weight shift over the left heel.
Misconception #19: The golfer should try to shift his