"I can't turn my shoulders."
"I have no proper weight shift."
During my coaching career, many have come to me with such problems. Strangely, I discovered that an oft-repeated piece of advice- "Keep your head down"-was to blame! You may well ask how this can be. Here is what can go wrong by blindly following this advice.
While keeping your head down and as still as possible throughout most of the golf swing, you end up using smaller muscles like the arms to swing back and through, which causes a lot of stress on other parts of your body. You may risk straining your neck muscles, creating unnecessary tension in your neck, back and arms. You also restrict upper body rotation in the whole swing.
Preventing your head from swiveling has the effect of limiting your upper body rotation, both on the back and down swing. When this happens, the natural centrifugal force created in the swing weakens and prevents your arms from extending to their widest position, making it more likely for you to top the ball.
By trying to keep your head down and completely still, you end up very rigid, impeding the correct transfer of weight. Proper weight transfer and a correctly executed turn is the source of power in the golf swing.
How to do it right
For a successful backswing, it is likely that your head will swivel slightly to the right, depending on the flexibility of your neck muscles. By doing this, your swing arc becomes wider, making it is easier for proper shoulder and hip rotation.
Having hit the ball and between half and three quarters of the way into the follow-through, your head will naturally turn left and your eyes will catch sight of the ball on its way to the target. This motion encourages you to extend your arms right from the time of impact. (Don't forget, your hip and upper body needs to keep rotating at this position as well).
In any kind of ball sport, it is the eyes and not the head that coordinates the body's movement. What is vital to understand is that while there is some slight head movement in the backswing and the downswing, the eyes remain focused on the ball until impact.
Try this, feel more flexible and enjoy hitting the ball better every time you swing your club.
Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. [email protected]