Golf Tips - Head Swivel During the Swing

By Joe Sullivan

It seems that in the past few years we have seen a number of players in professional golf doing that odd head swivel on their downswing. Most notable (and noticeable), of course, is David Duval. But there is Annika Sorenstam, Jim Furyk, Robert Allenby, and a few others who also do it.

This move seems to go against much of the traditional thinking in golf instruction. Things such as "keep your head down" and "keep your eye on the ball" don't apply to these players swings. You can see in still photos that Duval's eyes are literally not looking at the ball when he strikes it. Sort of strange!

The big question is, is this a move that YOU want in your swing?

The answer is, most diplomatically, yes and no.

YES, you want it, or want to leave it that way, if it's simply a natural move for you. This is how it is with most of the professionals who do it. I think Annika is the only one who is conscious of making it. It's most natural to those of you who are either right eye dominant or play a fade.

NO, you don't want it, if it's unnatural to you and you have to force yourself to do it. Just because you see a couple great players do it does not mean that you should. The majority of great players in the world keep their head down and still through the shot. Tiger and Mark O’Meara even have their eyes pointing behind the ball a bit at impact.

My overall analysis?

Although the players on tour who have this unusual move are excellent, I am not a big fan of it. The main reason I don't like it is that this move usually results in an over the top slice. Anytime you get your head moving laterally, even if it may be a slight "look up" swivel, your shoulders have the tendency to correspond by opening up. When you open your shoulders, you have almost no choice but to chop across the ball, which is a chief reason for a slice.

I fight this swivel in my swing quite a bit. I am right eye dominant so my eyes naturally want to look up at the target a split second early. Even though it's apparently natural to me, it seems as though I can get a much more solid strike on the ball if I can keep my head down and still through the shot.

So if you are someone who swivels, here's what I recommend you do?

If you have success with it, then that's great. Some of the best can do it, so why can't you, right?

However, if you are not playing well, and you tend to lift or swivel your head, even if it may be natural, you should try a change.

You should feel your head tilt the opposite way, to the right, just before you swing (a la Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan). This is one of David Leadbetter's (the renowned instructor) great images for slicers. It keeps the head behind the ball and encourages the shoulders to work down and under as opposed to out and over.

Something I like to do to help prevent my "look up" swivel is to make practice swings, and as I swing down I look to a point about five feet behind where the ball would be. This, in turn, swivels my head the opposite way. Doing this exaggerated practice move makes it easier to have the correct move happen during the actual shot.

Give it a try!*

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

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