Golf Extras
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"Keep your head still"
Doug Hammer

Scottsdale, AZ (Sports Network) -- As a teacher, I come across many misconceptions about the golf swing. But there is one misconception that keeps coming back again and again to keep me awake at night. That misconception is "keep your head still." Now don't get me wrong, that is not entirely false. Most accomplished players do not move their head in the downswing until well after contact, the operative words being "the downswing."

Notice, again, that I said downswing in that last sentence. This is where I think most people get a bit confused. I see players constantly working on keeping their head still as the club swings away from the ball. This is the misconception. In fact, during the backswing the head will move slightly behind the ball as the shoulders turn. The head then will stay still on the downswing until the shoulder turn tells the head to move forward.

Let?s discuss how to make this happen in your swing, both with irons and with the driver. Starting with irons, we must make sure our ball position is correct. The ball position for all irons should be directly in line with your left cheek (for right handed players). Get in front of a mirror and check this position as often as possible. This is important in allowing the shoulders to turn properly behind the golf ball.

Setting up for a drive
The correct positioning in setting up your drive.
As you begin your backswing, make sure the shoulders are turning to initiate the backswing, not just lifting the arms. The shoulder turn is what will make the head move slightly behind the golf ball. If we simply lift the arms, the head is allowed to stay in place, resulting in a vertical backswing. At the top of the backswing, the chin should be pointed away from the target with the left cheek slightly back of its starting point.

Now you can try to keep the head still and behind the ball on the downswing, keeping the left cheek behind the golf ball. This will make it much easier to get the club into the "slot" on the downswing in order to create solid contact. Staying behind the ball with the left cheek will also help the clubhead release through impact. If you are too much in front of the ball, the club face releases after impact, usually resulting in a slice.

The driver and fairway wood ball position has a slightly different reference point. Your woods should be positioned off your left shoulder to allow for a more sweeping motion through impact. The swing sequence is the same as the irons. Try to initiate takeaway with the shoulder turn. Turning the shoulders will get the left shoulder behind the golf ball.

Try to maintain the left shoulder behind the ball on the downswing, thus keeping your head still. This will give you the sensation of hitting slightly upward on the golf ball, which is desired for optimal drives. If the left shoulder gets in front of the ball on the downswing, it could result in popped up shots and slices as a result of a late clubhead release.

I hope all of this makes sense and clears up some of your misconceptions about keeping your head still. Remember to get in front of a mirror as often as possible so that you can see what moves you are making...and taking one to the course is not an option. Too often, what we feel is not always what is happening! Good luck with your golf games!

The forward swing is created with shoulders and the hips rotating together through impact (see photo). It is very important to move the lower body through impact, just as you would in the full swing, to keep the wrists from breaking or coming up too quickly in the follow-through.

Try to hold your finish position until the ball stops rolling to evaluate your shot. The club head should remain beneath the hands, with your spine still over the left leg creating a balanced finish on the left side. Once the ball has stopped next to your target, repeat the process.

When you are ready to practice some full shots, concentrate on feeling the spine more forward at impact creating a downward motion with the club head. Follow this with a balanced finish on the left side by rotating the lower body through with the upper body. This will make your iron shots much more crisp while perfecting those crucial short chips we all need to save par.


Doug Hammer * Director of Instruction * Troon North Golf Club p 480-585-5300 ext. 251 * f 480-585-5161 * www.troonnorthgolf.com 10320 E Dynamite Blvd. * Scottsdale, AZ 85262 Managed by Troon Golf? * www.troongolf.com



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