Spine angle and stay behind it.

This is a huge problem for many people. Staying behind the ball, but not hanging back.

It is simple and difficult at the same time.

It is simple because you just need to find a feel that creates this situation. Finding that feel can be difficult. You have to be careful, because you don’t want to put too much pressure on your lower back.

Therein lies the issue. Most bad movements are an effort to relieve pressure on the lower back. The reality is a good golf swing puts pressure on the lower back, even if it is a natural motion.

Neither of these feels may work for you, but they have worked for some of my students. You will get the idea and maybe come up with a feel that works for you.

If your shoulders are rotating 90* to your spine and the shoulders begin to rotate with the start of the downswing…generally, you won’t get in front of it. The problem is when the left shoulder moves toward the target before the shoulders begin to rotate.

(Right handed golfers) Initiate your downswing by feeling like your left shoulder goes away from the target, while your right shoulder goes toward it.

The following one can be very contorting, but it will help. IF you try this…work on it hitting 50 yard shots so you don’t hurt yourself. Your zipper goes toward the target, while your head stays behind it.

Now that you get the idea, you can probably figure the feel that gets you personally to get this ironed out.

Whatever feel, swing thought that gets your lower body moving to the front side, while maintaining your upper body behind the ball.

For those who like the technical aspect…this concept creates the desired spine tilt behind the ball at impact that helps create leverage and power. Not good for the back, but good for swing speed.

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21 Comments

  1. s.

    The interesting thing about this post is the question about why a “feel” might work better than actual mechanics.

    You write a lot about rotating shoulders. Shoulders do give the appearance of having rotated, and they might even feel like they are rotating. But, it’s impossible for shoulders to rotate around the spine, certainly not 90ΒΊ, so what’s the deal?

    The deal is that often it’s better to think of a result or a feel that you want, without jamming the mechanism with HOW you want to do it. A feel could even be BETTER than an actual mechanism because it can be actuated quicker, with less thought.

    The problem lies in trying to communicate that feel to someone else, if the feel is not literally true. Rotating shoulders immediately poses the questing about plane–left shoulder low, or level, and how do you tell how much? And how will it affect spine angle? And head movement? And, if you are focused on rotating shoulders (and hips?) then how do the arms move, and what moves them, and where?

    And, all that goes full circle, to the lower back. The way they teach it, the back is just sitting there, being acted upon by turning shoulders and hips. Ouch.

    If the body below the shoulder blades somehow did the turning, helping the parts above that do the swinging, the momentum of the swinging might take the pressure off the turning–if the swinging were done freely.

    Here’s a guy (Gene Littler) who seems to be doing what you are saying, shoulder rotation. However, to do it, his head is diving on the backswing, and he violates another Monte idea, his arms are still swinging up after his turn is complete. And, you’d probably say that he is taking his arms too far inside.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eDjPcLAhEg&fs=1&hl=en_US]

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      I understand what you are saying about the shoulder turn, but it’s a generally accepted term that most people understand. Kind of like straight spine.

      Reply
    • hank

      and i think Monte’s tip is for the average handicap player. If you want to nitpick by bringing in exceptions, that really shows how little you understand. You are probably just as annoying to your friends.

      Reply
  2. Texhacker

    Monte,

    Great post. This is a big problem for me.

    I’m confused about your first feel. When you say, “feeling like your left shoulder goes away from the target, while your right shoulder goes toward it” my first thought is, how can the left shoulder go down the line away from the ball while the right shoulder does the opposite, going down the line towards the ball. Do you mean it feels like your left shoulder turns back away in a counterclockwise direction(counterclockwise from an above view view)? When I think of it this way it helps my swing. This just points out the difficulty in using language to describe feels, or maybe I ought to just sign up for a lesson from you!

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      You are correct on all counts. That is what I mean when I say people process information differently.

      The main issue is if the left shoulder moves toward the target instead of moving in a counterclockwise motion away (for a right hander, using your language), that is getting in front of it.

      Reply
  3. Michael

    Is it normal to feel like my weight is back? The shift wasn’t difficult to do flexibility wise, but I felt like all my weight was heavy on my right foot.

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Well Michael, you were getting in front of it so it “may” feel like your weight is back when your upper body is staying behind the ball.

      Reply
  4. Bob34

    Speaking of the belt buckle moving, check this out;

    http://www.aroundhawaii.com/lifestyle/health_and_fitness/2010-12-are-ab-crunches-good-for-your-golf-swing.html

    Look at the slow mo of Ricky Fowler’s transition. I don’t understand a lot of what Kelvin is saying but the pic is worth a thousand words… Ricky’s belt buckle is turning back towards the target before his shoulders/arms have finished the backswing (But apparently not by using his abs…?). The chest, shoulders, & arms just seem to follow the hip turn. There is almost no arm swing other than the right elbow getting closer to his body (that isn’t much, an inch or two) and then unfolding just at impact. So for you teachers out there, how do you teach someone to feel that? Or is it even adviseable to teach that to the average weekend warrior?

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Ricky is forced to do this because his back swing is REALLY flat. He is young, athletic and not very tall.

      If 99.9% of the people try this, they will hurt themselves and probably some of the windows along the course they are playing.

      Just like Dustin Johnson’s bowed left wrist, John Daly’s long back swing and Jim Furyk’s loop ‘d loop…these are not things to be copied. They are anomalies created by gifted all time great golfers who worked double digit hours per day to perfect these moves.

      Reply
      • Bob34

        Ricky Fowler and I have a lot in common except I’m middle aged, not as athletic as I used to be, and even shorter πŸ™‚ I think I’ll buy a Panama hat when I’m there next month…

        Reply
  5. Wally

    Thw golf swing sould start from the top down. What one really needs on a hot summer day is a nice hat. I wear Panama hats(made in Equador of course) not those cheap imitations. They are very light you hardly know you are wearing one, and they come in many styles. When wearing one the hat takes on a pesonality of its own. With such a nice hat, one cannot rush their backswing. and the downswing just seems to happen all on its own, and I can just focus on hitting the target area. And if I miss, at least I have this good looking hat.
    Wally

    Reply
  6. Wally

    Bob; the’re made in Equador they got the name “Panama Hat” because they were used by the people building the Panama Canal, they are made of a particular straw that only grows in Equador. They will help your game. Besides they look great.
    Wally

    Reply
  7. Steve Bishop

    I don’t think it’s that hard actually. Your hips are forward but your head is back. With a proper weight shift of the lower body it happens naturally. Problem is a lot of people try to LEAN into the shot.

    If you can ignore the old video cam, lots of golfers in the background, and the annoying kid who’s hosting… this video might be of some help too.

    Reply
  8. banner12

    “Initiate your downswing by feeling like your left shoulder goes away from the target, while your right shoulder goes toward it.”

    If I think that, it’s pull city…

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Well BT…you probably don’t get in front of it then…LOL.

      Like I said, the same feel thought doesn’t work for everyone. I gave a few examples and said you need to find your own.

      I only described the concept.

      Reply
      • banner12

        I see what you’re saying but since I have a tendency to get flat a swing que like move your shoulder ‘up’ to initiate the downswing is more effective for me.

        Like you say, everyone is different and needs to use something that fits one’s personal disposition..

        Reply
  9. carrera

    I like the observation at 0:45 or so of this video.

    Reply
    • hank

      thanks for the link. This guy is really good. I’m a new fan.

      Reply
  10. Mike Pedersen

    Monte,

    This is EXACTLY my lifelong swing fault! I need to fix it asap, as I am tired of struggling with it.

    I don’t have much tilt (away from the target) in my golf swing, and on the downswing my left shoulder (and head) no doubt quickly moves toward the target…UGH!

    I have desperately tried to fix this, and so far have not succeeded.

    In the past, I have tried to get the sensation of left shoulder staying back, with the right shoulder rotating, and a few times have succeeded, but I soon forget this, and get stuck on some other part of my swing (being too analytical).

    I will need to reread this post, watch the videos, and maybe even hope to hear back from you with a solution πŸ˜‰

    Mike

    Reply
  11. Richard Davis

    Hi monte, I know this blog post is old but I would be desperate for an answer to this question, ever since I have been ‘staying behind the ball’ my back has been playing up abit.
    Are you saying that now I’m doing this move my back is going to hurt no matter what and I’m just going to get used to it?

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      If your back hurts, you’re not doing it right.

      It takes pressure off your back.

      Reply

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