Debunking Golf Swing Myths
Keep your eye on the ball! Hold your head still! Keep your left arm straight!
These tired chestnuts of advice have been part of golf for decades.
But do they really make sense?
Or are they just golf swing myths?
In this article, we will examine golf myths, discuss where they don’t hold water or only apply in specific situations, and provide some insight into modern golf thinking that debunks these well-intentioned pieces of advice that have persisted over the years.
Keep Your Lower Body Quiet
This myth originated with the idea that excessive lower body motion would throw the swing off plane.
However, today’s athletic golf swing necessitates a confident weight shift from the back leg to the front foot.
Focusing on keeping the lower body quiet can result in a meek, hesitant weight shift that throws off the natural movement of the swing, costing yardage and accuracy.
Make A Big, Full Swing
Because some professional golfers make a certain move, amateurs often interpret their swing as an ideal.
For example, Bubba Watson takes a very full swing that allows him to smack his drives well over 300 yards.
The problem is that most amateurs do not have his natural talent or flexibility.
In an attempt to take a full swing, they lift up, throwing their swing plane off and encouraging an over-the-top move on the way down.
This creates pulls, pushes and slices galore. Rather, focus on turning your shoulders as far as they will go comfortably on plane.
Then begin the move forward from the ground up, letting the club fall naturally into the slot and down and through.
Be Like Hogan
Without a doubt, Ben Hogan is a legendary figure in the game of golf, and possibly had the most repeatable swing in the history of the sport.
However, his one-plane swing fit his body type and tempo perfectly.
For many golfers, his swing is too athletic and aggressive.
They will not be able to reproduce it on a consistent basis.
It is a better idea to implement a two-plane action that requires less flexibility and natural athletic talent.
“Be like Ben Hogan” is the perfect advice — for Ben Hogan.
Roll the Wrists Through Impact
One of the most enduring golf swing myths in the game is the advice to “roll the wrists” through impact.
Ostensibly, the idea was to get golfers to let the wrists release, encouraging the club to square up at the moment of impact.
The truth is that the club will release naturally and on time if it is held firmly but not too tight.
The force of the swing will allow the wrists to unfold and refold through impact without any undue force from the golfer.
Keep Your Head Still
Perhaps the most common golf myth ever shared among hackers on a Saturday morning is to “keep your head still.”
The problem with this advice is the person receiving this “tip” takes it too seriously.
They end up locking their head in place like a statue, blocking any natural athletic motion and fluidity.
In reality, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicholas and Tiger Woods all rotated their heads, or moved it a few inches behind the ball on the backswing.
This is a natural reaction of an athletic swing.
For example, take a look at professional baseball players.
As they wind up to smash a pitch out of the park, many move their head and upper body back in preparation to shift their weight forward and let the body unwind into the pitch.
Certainly, most golfers do not need as dramatic a motion as a big league hitter.
But locking the head in space is a worse crime than an aggressive swing, and this is one myth that should be buried for all time.
Keep Your Left Arm Straight
Another piece of advice that is in the golf myth Hall of Fame is the admonition to “keep your left arm straight.”
Again, like the tip to keep your head still, many amateurs overdose on the medicine.
They lock their left arm as stiff as a steel beam, and the resulting robotic motion kills any chance of a solid hit.
Distance and accuracy are sacrificed in an attempt to follow this advice.
Many top teachers allow their students to have a slight bend of the left arm at the top of the swing.
The reason is that the momentum and speed of the downswing will straighten the left arm by itself.
On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to over bend the arm in an attempt to take the club further back than the body allows.
Simply rotate your shoulders until they stop based on your current flexibility, and keep the left arm firm, but not stiff.
Shift Your Weight
Like many golf myths, “shift your weight” is an over correction of advice.
Any good athletic motion involves some weight shift.
Think about throwing a softball underhand, hitting a tennis ball or rolling a bowling ball down the lane.
Each of these motions involves shifting the weight to some extent.
The problem with giving a golfer advice to “shift their weight” is they begin to move all of their weight onto the back foot on the backswing.
All that is needed is to move 55 to 60 percent of the weight onto the rear foot before starting the downswing.
Shifting all of the weight to the rear foot adds much greater potential for problems going forward.
Keep Your Head Down
Closely related to the advice “keep your head still” is the old chestnut, “keep your head down.”
This is very common among amateur golfers because it seems to be the cause of so many missed shots.
However, it is very unusual for golfers to lift their heads too early.
The swing is too fast, and it is not a natural reaction to lift the head before impact.
As in our other examples where golfers tend to over correct, sometimes they will keep their head down as if they are studying the grass to determine how fast it is growing.
By locking their head in a downward position, it cuts off the follow through.
In addition, some golfers place their chin against their chest in an attempt to keep their head down.
This also restricts the swing for no reason.
“You swing too quick!” someone bellows across the fairway.
“Slow down!” While it seems to make sense that a slow swing will produce better results than a fast swing, in reality it just produces the same results but at a slower pace.
Golf is a game of accuracy, but it is also a game of power.
The number one factor in creating longer shots is speed.
Speed is created by aggressively swinging down and through the ball.
The advice to “swing slower” only hinders someone in developing a confident, assertive swing.
That doesn’t mean swinging “out of your shoes.”
It does mean to trust natural athletic ability, stay loose and “freewheel” shots drives as far as possible.
Putter Head Straight Back and Through
After every missed putt, somebody will espouse one of their favorite golf swing myths about what went wrong.
One of the most common on the putting green is the tip to “keep the putter head straight back and through.”
However, this motion is difficult for many casual golfers.
A more natural motion is to let the putter head close slightly on the backswing and open naturally on the follow through.
Some people incorrectly call this the “swinging door” method.
However, a swinging door has a fixed point, whereas the putter head is moving down the swing path, opening and closing in a natural manner.
Putting is all about confidence, and asking a casual golfer to keep the putter head on a stiff, unbending, straight back and through path is a recipe for disaster.
Swing Out Towards the Target
The idea behind this one was to help golfers stay on plane, giving them the mental picture of swinging toward the target.
Unfortunately, these golf swing myths produce errors when golfers try to over manipulate the natural swing path in an attempt to hit the ball straight.
When they “swing out towards the target,” they do not let the club release naturally along the swing plane.
This results in a plethora of mishits including pushes, pulls and chunks.
Let’s put a stake in these golf swing myths for good.
Talk to a pro who is current on modern golf thinking, and work with them to build a swing that lasts for years to come.
Golf has plenty of myths that have persisted over the years.
But its no myth that the industry offers exciting careers in golf both on and off the course.
Contact us at Keiser University College of Golf to find out more about the wide variety of opportunities waiting for you.