Posture is a critical, yet little talked about, part of your golf swing. And a common golf swing fault is any change to your spine angle during critical phases of the golf swing. As we have discussed in previous articles, there are certain parts of your body that must stay straight, rigid or aligned during your swing and spine angle is one of them. Here is a quick list of those parts of a swing as a reminder:
Critical parts of a beginning golfer’s swing
- Your head must stay in one position through the entire swing
- Your leading arm (left arm. for right-handed golfers) must stay straight throughout the swing.
- Your spine angle must remain constant throughout the swing.
If you change your spine angle during the swing, this single improper movement causes a chain reaction of compensations that alter the mechanics of your golf swing immensely. The result will almost certainly be inconsistent and a long string of poor golf shots.
Changing your spine angle during the golf swing can be difficult to diagnose and as a result be very frustrating. This swing error is a perfect candidate for videotaping your swing and performing some swing analysis.
Maintain Spine Angle during Golf Swing
So how can the amateur golfer improve their spine angle during the golf swing? The result would be an end to changes that oh so often hamper golfers of every level. Speaking with PGA Teaching professional Christopher Smith on this subject allowed me to get to one of the roots of this common swing fault.
According to Mr. Smith, the changing of the spine angle is a common fault of the 1000’s of golfers he works with every year. A common spine angle change Christopher indicated to me was immediately at the beginning of the backswing. Often he views golfers who stand up during their backswing. This obviously changes their spine angle and not to mention posture. Resulting in a chain reaction of compensations in the golf swing.
Once Christopher demonstrated this common spine angle changed I immediately knew one of the “fixes” for it. Observation of Christopher performing this specific spine angle change of standing up during the backswing told me one important thing. This so-called swing fault of standing up may be better categorized as a flexibility fault.
Yes, a flexibility fault as I like to call it is when a golfer’s lack of flexibility impedes them from performing the mechanics of the golf swing correctly. Flexibility faults are often misdiagnosed as swing faults. As a result, the golfer dubiously works on fixing their golf swing with no avail. They continue to struggle with standing up during their backswing and never fix it or understand why it is happening. The reason is they are trying to “fix” the problem with the incorrect medicine.
The correct medicine would be the implementation of golf flexibility exercises. This type of fix would allow the golfer in such a situation to perform the mechanics of the swing correctly without limitations in their body getting in the way. It sounds pretty simple when you map out in such a way.
Now getting back to the spine angle problem Christopher Smith was discussing. The standing up during the backswing can partly be described as a flexibility fault. In such a situation this is telling me the golfer has some flexibility issues limiting their ability to maintain the correct posture during the back swing. In such a situation (i.e. standing up during the backswing) we can pinpoint the flexibility fault to hip region of the body.
The hips need to be flexible and mobile to allow the golfer to maintain a fixed spine angle and rotate around it during the golf swing. If the hips are tight and inflexible the ability to do this will be compromised as in the example of standing up during the back swing.
Now looking specifically at the spine angle change of standing up we can even pin point to a greater extent the exact muscles in the hips causing this “flexibility fault”. Usually with a golfer that stands up during the backswing I find they have tight hip flexors. Hip flexors are muscles that run across the front part of the hip on both legs. These muscles when tight (i.e. inflexible) “pull” the hips underneath your spine. Making it almost impossible to maintain the spine angle set in the address position. Once you begin the back swing and suffer from “tight” hip flexors. These muscles will “pull your hips” underneath your spine, causing you to stand up. The end result is a change in your spine angle and a series of compensations in the golf swing to follow.
How do we fix this flexibility fault, get those tight hip flexors mobile, and improve your golf swing? Simply by adding a series of golf fitness flexibility exercises to your golf swing improvement program. These types of exercises take just a few minutes a day to perform. They will alleviate the tightness in your hips and in the long run improve your golf swing.
Simple yet very effective golf fitness flexibility exercises I like to use for tight hip flexors are the kneeling hip flexor stretch, standing quadriceps, and spider. All three of these golf fitness flexibility exercise focus on the hip flexors. Over time these flexibility exercises will lengthen (i.e. stretch) those tight hip flexors. Allowing you greater mobility in the hips and eliminate one of the reasons for standing up in the back swing.
So remember, it is necessary to maintain a fixed spine angle during the golf swing. If you do not a whole series of compensations will occur. The end result will be an inconsistent golf swing. One such reason for a change in your spine angle may be standing up during the back swing. This swing fault is often a flexibility fault resulting from tight hips. The implementation of golf fitness flexibility exercises in a short amount of time can fix this flexibility fault and stop you from standing up during the back swing. Resulting in a more consistent golf swing. Keep in mind the connection between your body and the golf swing, and realize it is the body swinging the golf club