(Photo by Mustufa Abidi)
By Alex Riggs
Most of us have been told at some point that we must either “hit down” or “keep your head down”. Sorry to burst the bubble, but you should delete that thought from your memory. Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “If I lift my head, I’ll surely top it?” Let me explain… If you slow down golf swings of elite players through the impact zone, you’ll start to notice something – well before impact, the hands along with their entire lead side, start to travel up. The clubhead is still travelling down (negative angle of attack) through impact, though the player is going up. This extension through impact helps the golfer maximise their ‘Ground Reaction Forces’ leading to massive acceleration of the club. It also provides space for the arms to remain structured, giving the clubface more support. When we start to use the ground and control the clubface to a higher degree, good things happen.
Notice how, at impact, my left knee, hip, and shoulder are all higher than those on my right side. At the moment of impact, you should have about 80 per cent of your pressure into your lead foot. This forward pressure helps position the divot after the middle of our stance thus ensuring ball first contact. This is one of the single most important factors to quality iron striking. The pressure also allows you to use that lead side to push off the ground. Your trail side should be banked down assisting in giving your pelvis the necessary tilt through contact.
When you try and stay down, you create a whole list of issues as you’ll see in this image. Because I am consciously staying down, my lead side is as well. Therefore I’m severely compromising my power. More importantly, I’m not creating the necessary room for my arms to extend, thus forcing them to buckle. Who likes chicken wings? I do too, just not in my golf swing. It makes it extremely difficult to achieve solid contact or have clubface control. You should see the faces of golfers I’ve showed this too who had similar positions and assumed they were topping the ball from lifting their head.
Sword from the Stone Drill
Take an alignment stick or an old shaft and stick it into the ground at a 45-degree angle. Hold the end of the stick or shaft and get into a standard golf stance. Shift 80-90 per cent of your pressure into your lead side and bank down your trailside. Make sure your lead arm is long and strong and your trail arm is softer. Prepare for the movement by exaggerating that lead side pressure and trailside bank. Now pull the stick out of the ground as hard as you can by pulling up with your lead side. Allow your eyes to follow the stick, with your head rotating along with your chest. Maintain the structure in your arms by extending them away from your torso. Extend your hips and push your belly button to the target by contracting your glutes. Once your hands make it to the height of your sternum, hold this position. Pay attention to where you are in space and where you feel your muscles working. This is the magic we are after! In the future, the next time someone tells you to keep your head down, make sure to laugh, then send them this article.
Alex Riggs is a Canadian born golf coach who specialises in finding simple and effective strategies to lower scores. He is a Brand Ambassador for PXG and Under Armour. For lesson inquiries, contact Alex via [email protected] or +971 55 497 7913