Maintaining spine angle

This is a big one that a lot of people have problems with. It is less about fixing this problem and more about listening to what this problem is telling you.

Losing your spine angle can cause a variety of problems, but to fix it, you have to figure what is causing the spine angle change.

First, I want to make you feel better. Tiger loses his spine angle on almost every driver he hits. The times when he is hitting it well, it changes very little, when it changes a lot, he hits those “let go of the club” blocks into the next fairway and diving hooks into the left trees.

There are two main ways to lose the spine angle. A dive and a loss of “tush line.” A dive is what Tiger does and to see if you have this problem, put your finger on the end of your nose on a video from behind and down the line. If your nose moves out or down toward the ball, that is not good. If it happens a little, it’s nothing to worry about, so don’t go out and ruin your swing by trying to keep you head still.

To see if you are losing the tush line, you need a vertical line (same camera angle as above) like an imaginary wall your behind is up against and your body pulls away from that line during the swing. This is also known as standing up or pulling out of it…not to be confused with keeping your head down.

This post is just about educating you about something that is wrong…and losing your spine angle is like a fever. There is very little you can do for a fever, but it shows you are sick. If you can figure out why you are sick, you might be able to do something.

Now, here are a few examples of how these two things happen…and nowhere near a comprehensive list.

If you take the club away low and slow trying to get too much extension, this will most likely pull your head to the ball and you have lost your spine angle.

If you hold the lag too long on the way down, you are not allowing centrifugal force to extend your arms, you will not be able to reach the ball with your current posture and you will have to dive slightly to get the club to the ball.

If you try and set your hands too high at the top of your backswing trying to “increase your arc,” that will pull you out of you posture and as you straighten at the waist, you will lose you tush line.

If you get scared that you might hit the ball fat, your grip pressure increase and you pull your hands into your body on the downswing…that is going to be a right chicken wing and your lower body will lunge toward the ball to get the club to it. Again, loss of tush line.

Bad posture at address can cause both a loss of tush line or a dive.

Again, not nearly a comprehensive list and I invite all readers to add any they can think of.

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13 Comments

  1. banchiline

    Uh Ohhhhh…….I have a fever . That low & slow away . Sometimes a dive .

    I have to watch that rear knee flex being lost on my backswing .

    Reply
  2. Michael

    I have the tush line symptom, and I’ve had it for 3 years that I know of. I’ve been told it’s got two things causing it: Too level of a shoulder turn, and turning my hips to the ball instead of turning to the target.

    If I get told to do the rear against the wall or chair drill one more !#%^ing time..

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      LOL@Mward2002. To me, that drill is about what I and the other poster said. If you try and maintain the spine angle, you get stiff and make it worse. You figure out why it is happening and fix that. Shoulder turn is a huge issue and should be your focus.

      Reply
  3. Peter Balogh

    LOL

    Reply
  4. Sean

    How long or should the spine angle be the same into the follow through and finish?

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      That is a good question and the answer is…there is no set answer, but it is definitely ideal through impact. Again, not something you fix, just a gauge that something is wrong…so don’t try and nitpick it too much.

      Reply
  5. Ric

    Monte,
    I appreciate all of your effort and insight into your blog. It is truly helpful. I am always nursing a painful outside of my right ankle and I think your spine angle post will help me fix this chronic pain. Do you think the combo of a low and slow back take away and a slight lean that way is putting the extra stress on the outside of that ankle plus losing the spine angle? Does that sound probable? I am in NJ so I cannot check it out due to the weather we are experiencing but would like your input/diagnosis. Thanks again for all you share, it is much appreciated!!!

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      ric, that sounds like a very likely scenario. there is a good drill that might help you when it is warm enough. Put a golf ball underneath the outside of your right foot. That will help you NOT roll on the outside of it and put pressure on your ankle while giving you the sensation of what it should feel like to stay on the inside of your right foot.

      Reply
  6. T

    I agree that spine angle is a diagnostic tool, and not a goal in itself. Trying to maintain spine angle will freeze the torso and also wreck the swing.

    The spine angle looks “maintained” on the backswing if there is a proper torso turn with the swing. To get that turn, it can’t be tight, as in trying to “maintain.”

    Reply
  7. Carrera

    Speaking of spine angle and tush line, trying to do this is probably not recommended, unless you are 17 yrs old:

    Reply
  8. Eric

    I have this problem.

    my right knee and hip like to go forwards towards the ball in the downswing and I get up on my right toe. it’s maddening.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      eric, without seeing your swing it is hard to guess. It is usually obvious why it happens.

      Reply

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