A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about lifting in the backswing and the cause of this common swing fault.
Although there are many different causes, one of the most common reasons that golfers lift is by trying to keep their head down.
This phrase of “keep your head down” is one that many of our playing partners will use when attempting to lend a helpful hand to others who are topping the ball or possibly not hitting the ball that well on a particular game.
As indicated in the previous article, our choice of words or how we convey to those who are having swing problems on a given day can (in this particular case) cause you to have more problems than you did earlier in the round.
In fact, the helpful hint of keep your head down, if executed, will in fact cause you to lift even more, therefore causing you to top or miss-hit the ball more than you did before.
The hints that your playing partners pass on during the round are meant to be helpful and in many cases are, but we need to be cautious and aware that not all will help.
In today’s article, I’ll discuss the distribution of weight on your feet throughout the swing and how a common on-course tip by your playing partners may inhibit this from happening properly, therefore causing you to hit the ball poorly.
This tip is “keep your head still.”
First of all, let me discuss the correct distribution of weight on your feet throughout the swing.
In our address position, you need to start with your weight even on both feet.
Balance is critical to any activity and is crucial to a consistent golf swing.
Therefore to ensure great balance, you must place the bulk of your weight on the balls of your feet with equal amounts on the toes and the heels.
As you move the club to the top of your backswing, approximately 70 per cent of your weight will transfer to your back foot (the foot that is furthest away from your target).
At the top of your backswing you need to make sure that you’re still in balance so in addition to 70 per cent of your weight being on your back foot, you need to ensure that your back foot is flat with equal weight distribution from the toes to the heels.
As we swing to the finish position, you need to ensure that you have 100 per cent of your weight on your front foot, your body is facing your target and that your back foot is rolled up on its tip toe.
The previous paragraph explains the proper weight distribution throughout the golf swing and is critical that all players understand this process.
What becomes important from this point is how the weight transfer happens.
In other words how does the body work and what part of the body transfers or causes the weight to transfer.
The first step is to explain how the body works.
Simply said, we’re attempting to make a rotational motion around our head and our spine.
The best way to experience this is to stand upright without a club in your hand and your weight distributed evenly on both feet.
Now turn as if to look at your friend who is standing behind you.
If done properly, your shoulders will have turned 90 degrees and your weight will still be equal on both feet.
When discussing the proper rotation the backswing, I shall discuss two parts of the body.
The hips or the lower body, and the shoulders or the upper body.
The function of the hips in the backswing is simply to turn.
In other words, there’s no lateral motion with the lower body in the backswing.
Therefore, the hips are not the part of the body that transfers 70 per cent of your weight to the back foot as we take the club back.
The function of the shoulders in the backswing is also to rotate.
A perfect rotation in the backswing is one that will see your shoulders turn 90 degrees from their original position at the top of the backswing.
In addition to the shoulders turning, there is a slight lateral movement towards your back foot with your shoulders.
This slight lateral movement is what transfers your weight to your back foot.
Your head is attached to your shoulders and if the shoulders move laterally in the backswing, then your head has to go with it.
As a result, there’s a slight lateral movement with the head.
In other words, the head does not stay still as we take the club back it actually moves.
In reality, the head moves only slightly (approximately half an inch) but it has to move in order to get your weight to your back foot.
Keeping your head still will guarantee that your weight distribution will be incorrect.
An incorrect weight distribution will lead to inconsistent contact, therefore compromising distance and direction.
Finally, the downswing is simply a transfer of weight from the back foot to the front foot as soon as possible, ensuring that you finish with 100 per cent of your weight on your forward foot.
There are many steps to the downswing and would only complicate things if I attempt to cover them all.
The best way to explain this is to start the club moving down by unwinding your hips, ensuring your weight finishes on your front foot.
The next time you’re out playing and someone suggests that you keep your head still, you need to understand why they are telling you this.
They may see that you are bouncing up and down and the head is all over the place.
Therefore, the best chance for you to hit the ball, at least the way they see it, is for you to keep the head still.
This advice is sound in this particular circumstance but we need to be sure that you still transfer your weight accordingly.
Doing so will give you the best chance to make more consistent contact.
Scott Bergdahl is the head pro at the Lakewood Golf Resort near Sylvan Lake. His column appears on Tuesdays in the Advocate.