False Turn and Loss of Tilt in the Backswing

INTRODUCTION

Many golfers lose tilt behind the ball when attempting to make a “full turn” in the backswing. The issue arises mostly because many golfers have a desire to make a turn in the backswing that they are not actually capable of making, due to physical limitations. When golfers try to make backswing turns they can’t properly manage, then end up losing their tilt or even tilting towards the target. Like many aspects of this game, “more” of something good is too often seen as desirable, even if trying to get “more” or “as much as possible” ends up compromising the swing. I have written at length about this issue here.

FALSE TURN

I refer to losing tilt in the backswing, or tilting towards the target, as “false turn”. Take this golfer on the RIGHT, for example:

On first glance, it might appear to some that he has managed to make a 110 degree shoulder turn in the backswing. But in actuality, he actually only turned his shoulders 75-80 degrees. The remaining 30-35 degrees of “false turn” are a result of him tilting towards the target and losing some of the tilt he had at address. Compare that with yours truly on the LEFT. You’ll notice that I have maintained my tilt while completing my turn.

WHY FALSE TURN IS BAD

The common teaching concept of “turning your back to the target” is notorious for creating false turn. Losing tilt in the backswing by tilting towards the target is extremely detrimental to the downswing, because maintaining tilt away from the target:

  1. shallows out the angle of attack
  2. creates shaft lean at impact
  3. encourages lag in the downswing

 

AN ASTUTE OBSERVATION FROM A READER

In a previous article, I posted the comparison image above and asked readers for comments about the difference between the two positions. One astute reader responded:

The golfer on the right has no tilt behind the ball. He has turned in a way so that his front shoulder is turned towards his front foot instead of his rear. It seems like to me in an effort to make a full turn and get his club to parallel at the top, he has turned so far as to pull himself target-wards. From this spot he would have to make a massive move with his lower body to get himself unstuck from this position. All of the speed and power in his swing would be gone before he got anywhere near the ball. I would also venture a guess that this golfer would start to run out of room to turn by the time he gets near impact since he has to unwind a lot just to get to a spot where he can swing freely.
Monte on the other hand has turned in a way to keep his secondary tilt, notice the spine angle away from the target and has turned his lead shoulder over the rear foot. This would allow space for his arms to fall and as he leads with the lower body he creates more room without losing speed. Like monte says, do nothing to slow down the arms.

This is exactly correct. Let me unpack it a little more:

MY THOUGHTS

If you have false turn in your backswing and tilt toward the target, chances are high that your arms with also move past your turn. In other words, “false turn” with the arms, where the body isn’t actually turning but the arms continue to move back in a futile effort to get to parallel at the top. This problem, plus the steep angle of attack that tilting toward the target creates, makes producing lag impossible. From the top, the subconscious brain/body, has two choices:

  1. throw away all the lag and cast
  2. produce a gravedigger divot and possibly shank the ball

I don’t think I need to explain why neither of those are particularly desirable. Most people who do this move have learned to do #1, because that allows them to hit the ball and actually play golf. But guess what happens when many of them see their swing on video?

“Oh, I’m casting. I better hold the lag.”

This is the sort of disastrous thinking that leads to outcome #2: trenches, shanks, massive divots. All in a misplaced attempt to force lag into a golf swing that cannot naturally produce lag because of false shoulder turn. Fixing the shoulder turn is the actual solution to this problem. Fix that, and the lag and shaft lean will come automatically as a result.

THE SOLUTION

Here is a secret to fixing this:

Try to get the right shoulder closer to the back foot in the backswing.

Lots of people are told to get their left shoulder over their back foot in the backswing. That can be a helpful key for some, but not for those with false shoulder turn. In fact, those with false shoulder turn are already overdoing the left shoulder over the back foot. That can actually be the cause of this problem in the first place.

In the picture above, the vertical lines are actually making the right shoulder. Look at mine in relationship to the back foot (left) vs. the golfer on the right. See the difference?

Even Stack and Tilt guys don’t get their right shoulder as close to the left foot as the reverse tilters do. Getting the right shoulder over the right foot (left and left for lefties) keeps your tilt behind the ball. And that allows you to produce a shallow AoA in the downswing. It also makes it almost impossible for the arms to overrun the turn at the top of the backswing. Do this, and you will create plenty of lag.

TIGER WOODS

Look at is picture of Tiger above. Look how his swing, body tilt, arm, and right shoulder positions at the top are like mine: Balanced and powerful. Especially look at similar arm positions and how the right shoulder is much closer to right foot than the left. This is him practicing a “centered pivot” swing and yet his right shoulder is behind the center of his feet.

BEN HOGAN

Look at the photo above of Hogan. Even with a much flatter and past parallel swing, his arms are still in same place and right shoulder closer to right foot at the top. He is still tilted away from target at top of swing. No reverse tilt, no arms behind head, and right shoulder more over right foot at top of swing than left.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Tiger, Hogan and myself produce 90 degrees or more of shoulder turn while keeping the arms left of head at top of swing in a face on view (and no, I am not comparing my game to theirs, just my right shoulder position). Lots of leverage, room to create speed, and a shallow angle of attack: Lag city with no handle yanking, float loading or holding the angle. This position should be the Holy Grail of Golf Instruction.

Now, all golfers are going to have a slightly different look at the top while doing this. Most are going to produce less turn than they would expect. This doesn’t matter. Producing a smaller degree of “true” turn as opposed to false turn is exponentially better in every possible way. No matter how short this backswing may feel to some,  it puts golfers in an ideal position at the top.

For more on this subject, go HERE.

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49 Comments

  1. Dave Dunlop

    what a great post! will be working on this in the mirror tonight as im sure i suffer from this

    Reply
  2. Joeunc

    pretty awesome stuff!!

    Reply
  3. jaybee

    Andrew Rice has talked about this when he refers to the 84 degree secret.
    Way earlier, Leslie King talked about the importance of a convex body shape at the top of the backswing- online and with a drawing in lesson 8.
    He also related the erroneous lack and opposite of that shape, a concave one, to the omission of raising the left heel, on which he therefore always insisted.
    The X factor told us that the more shoulder turn the better, the less hip turn the better and that the left heel rise is a sign of weakness.
    IMHO, resultingly, many golfers started to either reverse pivot, reverse tilt (but IMHO only the most lanky and flexible ones- I can think of 2 out of maybe 30 swings of my friends) or sway too much to the right with the upper body.
    I would be careful working on the reverse tilt without considering and working on a more appropriate hip turn and/or a still relatively centered neck too, as this can and most likely will then lead to that excessive upper body sway instead.

    Reply
  4. Blake

    Probably one of the best posts I’ve ever read. You can physically see how much room that creates for your arms. Looks like it would lead to an effortless transition.

    Reply
  5. Exilgolfer

    Monte, are you talking to me?

    Reply
  6. woody

    If I had to notice differences between the 2 pictures, I would compare your left ankle area with his. You’ve got more internal rotation having to do with your left leg. However, part of that is due to a wider stance with a longer club.

    As far as shoulder turn, “getting the right shoulder (not the left) closer to the back foot” has merit. Shawn Fister thought so, and there’s a video of him saying it. Moe Norman too. Jason Dufner too, in a Golf Digest feature.

    The shoulder is the most mobile joint in your body. Trying to move the left shoulder in the wrong way will just “dislocate” it and create a fake turn. The right shoulder idea will make it easier for the left shoulder to move in the correct way. Couples hints at this toward the end of this clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU7P-yGmR48 (2:26) Couples

    It’s interesting to compare Couples to the guy whom you admit “He is actually a very good player.” They look rather similar. As Couples mentions, it might have something to do with the way he grips the club.

    Reply
  7. Robert Evans

    Monte, what a great piece of golf instruction. I have been told that spine tilt away from the ball is important, know I know why and how it affects the swing. Truly a wonderful explanation. Thanks for explaining it so simply.

    Reply
  8. Will

    Right shoulder over the right foot seems like such a strange thought. You’d think that it would limit a good shoulder turn. But I tried it (as someone with a big shoulder turn that can reverse at the top), and it works like a charm. And it didn’t seem to adversely affect the amount of turn I made. Nice post, Monte.

    And thanks 😉

    Reply
  9. calvin

    AAArgh why’d you have to go and tell everybody? 🙂
    Maybe my group won’t read it…….

    Reply
  10. Copperjeff

    Awesome Monte.

    You have such an amazing ability to pull out the essential information and present it in such a clear and easily understood way.
    You definitly explained it better than me!

    Reply
  11. Paul

    Monte–wouldn’t setting up in the Slicefixer reverse K address position accomplish this?

    Reply
    • Will

      Not necessarily. You can still reverse tilt from a reverse K setup. Trust me…

      Reply
      • Monte Scheinblum

        You are correct.

        It helps, but by no means a cure all.

        Reply
      • Paul

        Ok, granted. I can set up with good spine tilt away from target and because of my flexibility get my back fully rotated to the target at the top. Are you suggesting I should calm this flexing down and just get my right shoulder behind my right heel–like a half turn?

        Reply
        • Monte Scheinblum

          Behind right heel????

          More toward right heel, yes.

          How much your shoulders turn is not relevant and neither is flexibility.

          If your right shoulder is getting closer to your left foot, you are losing your tilt and have a steep AoA.

          Reply
      • Paul

        Right shoulder more DOWN toward right heel?

        Reply
  12. mukster

    Thank you for this. I will certainly be using this to try and fix my position at the top and will report back.

    Reply
  13. Copperjeff

    Monte, you said the reverse tilt could be a result of trying to have a big shoulder turn. I have a theory that it could also tie in ti a couple more golf cliches. Mainly turn in a barrel and keep your weight inside your feet. I think these cliches may make the average golfer have the mindset that the upper body needs to stay centered. I think many golfers fail to realize that if you keep the secondary tilt while making a proper turn the weight will not move outside the rear foot. I also think a proper turn while maintaining the secondary tilt can make someone FEEL like they are going to crash the club into the ground 3ft behind the ball, especially if he/she is a caster or comes OTT.

    Reply
    • Robert Johansson

      if Foley or some other guys says stay centered then people follow that advice without asking why and often it wont help them to ask as they are likely to missunderstand what to do.

      Reply
  14. blacksox

    Great post! Lateral motion…….efficient lateral motion……….effcient lateral motion of the upper half combined with the correct amount of depth in regards to the hip action, this is what produces power, lag, and freedom of movement during the swing. This dynamic relationship is a little bit different for everyone because of size, shape, flexibility, range of motion, and AGILITY! More often than not, players will default to S and T priniciples because they have not found a simple explanation of this dynamic that works for their swing. I guarantee if you spend 90 minutes with Monte, he will pinpoint with 100 percent accuracy how you should attack the ball. If I was in the position of building a move I would build a plan with Monte and then go see him every other week for 18 months.

    Reply
  15. Jim Dunlop

    Are you the Dave Dunlop from Prince George, B.C.?

    Reply
  16. Ted

    Monte – My pro has been trying to get me in this position for 3 years but it hasn’t clicked for me. I love this thought, but how do I avoid the feel of hanging back on back foot and being fat? What do I want to feel like in my lower body and feet? I try so hard to keep my arc ahead of the ball that this feel is difficult for me to accomplish.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Sounds like your arms are slow and behind your turn.

      Reply
  17. Paul

    I think I get it. I just wanted you to explain it a bit differently. If you stay in your tilts, it should be ok. One thing that is noticeable in the guy on the right is that even though his knees are flexed, his torso is standing up. His right hip is being pulled up, yours is staying down. Brady Riggs talks about this, creating room in the backswing. Your Hogan pic shows it. Good stuff.

    Reply
  18. phil

    Can’t wait to try this, right shoulder over the right foot is a swing thought that would never of occurred to me.

    As always, you explain the idea behind the move so clearly Monte, well done.

    Reply
    • phil

      Bit of a late entry, but I’ve just had a short session trying this, and I wanted to give some feedback. For me, once I starting getting the idea, my swing starting feeling ‘easier’ and more controlled. I also felt I could get the ball further back in my stance (my pro has mentioned I have it too far forward a few times).

      The other thing I thought as I practiced, is that this right shoulder idea complements the swing thoughts in the “Proper Shoulder Turn-Surgical Tubing” video really nicely. As conscious focus in on the right shoulder in both, I found I could kind of combine the ideas in practice.

      Reply
  19. mukster

    1) Never take a brand new swing thought to the course without at least trying it first!
    2) Hit some of the best drives of the season today. Felt like I had all my distance back, but more importantly I was hitting it straight. Also a few bad ones, see 1) and 3)
    3) Never take a brand new swing thought to the course without at least trying it first!
    4) I noticed that I was having issues with my irons, fat hits and hooks, not my usual game, must be as a result of changing something else by improving my basckswing.

    Looking forward to doing some camera work and comparing new to old position at the top.

    Reply
  20. FredL

    I think the most telling is the waist/hip. The guy with the reverse tilt has no rotation on the pelvis (buckle still pretty much pointed at the front instead of to the right).

    Reply
  21. Gregg

    Monte, can you put up some pics comparing your left hip position compared to your left foot at set up, top of swing, and impact? I think that left hip position would help a lot of people understand the right shoulder at the top position better. Some shots from behind would be even better in my opinion.

    Reply
  22. Norman

    I would love to see a video to go along with this post.

    Reply
  23. Geoff Dickson

    I’m the bloke from the first thread that said something about getting his left shoulder over right foot…so i reckon this thread might be about me. Have spent some time in front of the mirror and like the look of the difference that the right shoulder over left foot creates…makes me *feel* that right hip rotates differently/better. Great post Monte.

    Reply
  24. MSGolfer

    Holy @(*#$(@)#$!) this is gold. Tried it last night, can finally feel space for my arms. One of the best tips I’ve ever gotten.

    Reply
  25. Ray

    HALL OF FAME POST!

    Reply
  26. mukster

    OK I am pretty embarrassed. Read your post before I took off to the course Wednesday (see previous post) and was hitting the driver pretty darn well, but everything else pretty darn poor. Thought I just needed to work on it, but when I read it again afterwards, I saw that I had read it all wrong and I was making the wrong move. I was turning my LEFT shoulder over my right foot! lol I guess……. Shot 15 over my usual score. But did I say great driving?!
    Went to the range today and had one of the most satisfying sessions in a long time. I am going back tomorrow and will take my camera and do before and after comparisons. ADHD is a drag!

    Reply
  27. HoldTheLag

    You and the student’s shoes don’t match.

    Reply
  28. Jay Phillips

    Ok so I’m trying to understand this concept. Are there any good drills to help instill the move of getting the right shoulder closer to the right foot?

    Reply
      • Jay Phillips

        When I do this I notice that my arms stay pretty low. The left arm is no where parallel with the shoulder line. I believe this might by a flexibility issue but what are you thoughts. Either way I plan on doing a video lesson with you so maybe it will be somethings you can address there.

        Reply
  29. Chris Jones

    Man this is fantastic! I have been taking lessons for the last 9 months. Been really struggling with this “false shoulder turn” but until i read your article i have never even heard the term.

    Once i read your post above it was like “ahhh” that is exactly what i have been trying describe to my coach with no luck!

    Thanks so much!

    Tons of help!

    Reply
  30. Mike Ryan

    Monte, this post has been my holy grail for years. Just saw this on Instagram, id absolutely love to get your five second analysis.

    https://instagram.com/p/BfvarhCBSwP/

    This is one of the top golf instructors in Australia and I think he’s dead wrong. First move is so much more powerful.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Yea, not a big fan of doing what he suggested there.

      Reply

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  1. Update — 2013.04.30 | Digging Out of the Dirt - [...] to help make it easier to achieve the feeling of staying in sync and connected 3) Keeping my left…
  2. This should be the #1 thing in golf instruction. | Monte Scheinblum's Blog - […] LINK to previous article […]

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