The angle of the shoulder turn is everything

Here is a post and video from two years ago…and the principles are still true. The vertical shoulder turn on the downswing (I have found) is one of the leading causes of early extension (Goat Humping)


Golf is action/reaction. Most golfers are too flat going back and too vertical coming through. Even PGA Tour players have these issues. Watch Dustin Johnson. He is so vertical coming into impact, he has to massively wrench the club flat and around him to keep the club from getting away from him. He does this with a hip turn that 1 in 1,000,000 people are capable of.

That’s fine for a World class player who manages a severe body action, but for most golfers, having the shoulders turn 90* to the spine on the backswing and downswing is the easiest way.

Most amateurs whip the club too far inside to start the backswing. This initiates a very flat shoulder turn and lots of late arm lift. This can result in rerouting over the top and a shoulder turn that is also too flat through impact…or more often, a shoulder turn that is way too vertical in order to “help the ball in the air,” or an attempt to come from the inside.

All of the techno babble aside, maintaining the T (LINK) or a 90* shoulder turn keeps things simple.

Here is a video describing some of the shoulder turn issues that cause problems.




  1. William

    I think I’ve been a victim of this for quite some time and recently realized this. The result was a lot of pull hooks. However, I have told myself I need to maintain my spine angle angle the same back and the same through. In your video, when people try to lift the ball in the follow through, does that change the spine angle in the follow through, which results in how you attack the ball? Since I’m working on this right now, I just wanted to see if I’m headed in the right direction.

  2. carrera

    Good video, thanks.

  3. seveonsunday

    Mighty fine post!

  4. Peter B

    I consider a bad or no shoulder turn and swinging from the arms the biggest uncoupling of the swing, There will be almost no body rotation force translated to the clubhead. I gained some nice yardage with this Thanks Monte!

  5. carrera

    Monte, do you think about keeping the upper part of your arms connected to your chest or sides of the chest during the swing as some advocate (to keep the arms in sync with the rotation of the body)?

    • Monte Scheinblum

      No, I don’t like that idea at all. I think that creates tension and can get the club behind you/too flat very easily.

      If you have a solid setup, your shoulders are turning 90* to your spine and the back swing ends when the shoulder turn stops, that takes care of any issue that “staying connected” will have an affect on.

      As a matter of fact, getting a little disconnected with minimum tension, good tempo and rhythm ( Fred Couples and Jack Nicklaus), is far superior for speed and consistency to staying connected in that manner.

      It probably wont surprise you that I find those training aids that keep your arms glued to your side terrible.

      I also find the drill of putting a head cover or glove in your armpits bad as well.

      Another “as a matter of fact” I sometimes have people put head covers/gloves in their armpits and have them drop them at the top of the swing to avoid the tension that being too connected can cause.

      How’s that for counter culture directness…LOL

      I hope I answered your question without being condescending toward you. As you know, I am very frustrated with “clicheisms.”

      • carrera

        Thanks. The other thing that some folks do (say Scott McCarron) is lift their left shirtsleeve up a bit so it is under their armpit…keeping it there during the swing is the same thing as having a glove or headcover under the arms.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      I have changed my mind a little on the way I describe this the last two years since I first posted this. What I was commenting against was the extreme to which this is done…when people try too hard to do it.

      For a right handed golfer…

      The right arm is allowed to rotate away from the body, just not lift away from it.

      The left arm is not supposed to stay connected to one spot, it is supposed to rotate up and down the chest.

      I will have a video about this soon.

  6. seveonsunday

    hmmm I feel the shoulders and the right arm turn all at once and the left elbow kinda folds… is this weird? Its kinda hard to think of a good shoulder turn on the backswing and then on teh downswing as well…

  7. Ron

    I really like the baseball swing analogy applied to the golf swing. No psycho babble or swing crack there!

  8. North

    An extension to the idea of maintain the “T”. The hips are a bar across the bottom – think I as in the shape of an I beam. With this picture, your previous post of the right hip going up and away on the backswing is forced as that is what happens when the hips move 90 degrees to the spine.

    Just a thought.

  9. bobs34

    The connection part was a big deal for me. I have a habbit of moving my hands first in the take-away and in an effort to use my body first to move my arms/hands I glued my armpits to my sides. That is a TERRIBLE thing to do for all the reasons Monte talks about above. Once I freed up my arms a little from my body, it’s actually easier to start my takeaway with the rotation of my ribcage instead of my hands which has become my whole swing; Rotate the right side of my rib cage back and then continally through all the way to the finish. Everything else, legs, shoulders, and arms are just along for the ride. I feel like the right side of my rib cage has passed the ball before I hit it & It’s amazing how slowly I can turn my rib cage through and still crush the ball…

  10. Jabrch (Jason)

    I probably get my shoulder turn about 75 degrees back….and probably go 110 on the way through….Does this explain my recent tendency to pull the ball, in particular with my short irons?

  11. charles

    Man, is that excellent. I’ve dedicated the past 9 months to fixing my early extension – and still have some (getting better). But you nailed me right between the eyes – on my DTL videos, I seem to always naturally get that clubhead well behind my butt. Couldn’t understand it. But the feeling you describe is dead on target. I keep trying to take away “higher”, but only get arms disconnected from body…. and have very much the feeling of vertical shoulder coming down through the ball.

    Didn’t realize until now that I was taking shoulders back flat! Of Course! I can stay connected on the backswing, hands higher, if my shoulders are more vertical. Of course!

    I should point out that if you have weak butt muscles (find out with one-legged bridge), you will have early extension problems. I’ve been working on that for months, and getting stronger and better.

    This is really well done, well presented, and entirely convincing (important). A genuine thank you from someone who genuinely enjoys the game.

  12. swpete

    The “T” was a real “aha” moment for me. It removed a lot of tension and what I now realise were a lot of gymnastics to make it happen. I stopped taking the club head back as far as I thought that I needed to. Just leaving my wrists at 90 degrees with the club pointing at the sky.

    The less you think about it and just remember the idea at swing time seems to work the best.

    Thanks Monte.

  13. mstair

    “ The most frequent shot-wrecking deviation for me occurs when my right triceps disconnects at the top of the swing and does not reconnect to the upper chest before starting the downswing. This causes the club-head to return above the plane as the arms take over the downswing.
    The conclusion of Ben Hogan’s chapter on the backswing contains a famous training exercise that I believe is over simplified in its interpretation, although, it contains the fundamental truth about the golf swing. The arms do not operate independently, but are always propelled by the movement of the body. It is the only reliable way to return the moving club-head squarely to the ball. The eager student of the swing — pursuing the ideas of Ben Hogan can do no wrong if he or she drills this until it is ingrained into every swing every time.”

    Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.” iBooks.


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