Golf Tips - Head Movement During the Golf Swing

By Joe Sullivan

Does the head stay down and still? NO. If you look at the great players in the game, most have a slight movement of their head going back. It certainly varies from player to player, but it's still present in one form or another. Players like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have quite a noticeable head movement on the back swing (especially with their drivers). Other players, like Steve Elkington and Tom Purtzer, hold theirs a bit more stationary.

What's important to note with head movement, just as in the weight shift, is that it's not something you should think of. It is simply just a reaction to what you do with the golf club. When a golfer starts thinking of shifting their head a little bit here, and a little bit there, there is big time trouble awaiting.

Here is the proper head sequence?

On the back swing you have a little natural weight shift. Consequently, you have a little natural head move. This is perfectly O.K. This is the same move that you would make if you were to throw a rock into a lake. You would never think of anything other than the rock and the lake, but your weight and head would shift automatically. If you throw it 2 feet, you don't have any movement. But if you throw it 200 feet, there will be a more noticeable move.

On the downswing is where the key is. YOUR HEAD MUST REMAIN BEHIND THE BALL AT IMPACT. If you look at a face-on picture of any good player in the history of the game, they all have their head behind the ball at impact. You can even see in players like Nick Faldo and Greg Norman, that they actually move their head to the right to start the downswing. This just creates a more powerful, underneath, impact position. If you get your head moving laterally left BEFORE you strike the ball, you basically have no chance. You will be way steep, way over the top, and way far from hitting a good shot!

Post impact, your head will follow the rest of your weight to the left side. You don't want to hang back through the entire shot and snap your spine in half, or at least finish in a reverse-C.

Just remember that a good impact position will make it easier for this natural head movement to happen.

The Bottom Line? With regards to head movement, the idea is to hardly ever think about it (maybe to hold it still to start your downswing is okay). Just try to let it take its natural course.

Also, keep in mind to not freak out if you see it move slightly on the back swing, because Tiger Woods does it also. As I've said, if it's good enough for Tiger, chances are that it will be good enough for you, too. *

Columns ©1999 Joseph K. Sullivan and GolfLink Inc. All rights reserved.

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