Golf: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (OK, Just the 1st One Today)

PracticeJust a quick rainy day post.

There are a lot of ideas from a lot of different teachers regarding what is beneficial, acceptable, detrimental, and useful in the golf swing.  One of those hot topics is the role of the head in the golf swing and whether or not it should move in an effective golf swing.  To some this may be an old topic as it has been of conversation in some forums and internet platforms for the last couple years.  I realize this, but in case it’s both new or old to you, I decided to do little different rainy day research as you’ll see below.

As a preface, to me it’s quite interesting how many of the top teachers look and study the very same tour caliber swings and come up with very different opinions. And that’s cool. Because what that does is allow the rest of us to do our own research too and develop our own viewpoints and understanding.

Studying every golf swing (from rank beginner, to the weekend warrior, to tour caliber) is a great place to start putting organization between what the higher handicaps have in common with one another and what the experts have in common with one another — including what the differences between the two categories are.

At the same time, I would think it’s mutually agreeable that there is no person who illustrates the perfect golf swing. There are so many different desires for ball flight, as well as combinations, sequences and patterns that it is impossible to pinpoint what exactly that perfect golf swing would be.

However, there are clues.

We can come very close with the help of expert players and the role of geometry. I’d like to emphasize that last word because it is how we sew together the pieces for the shots and shapes a player desires. At the end of the day, if we do not have a geometric idea (or most simply, let’s call it a picture that answers the “why” to the “what”) of what we would like to see a particular student do, then we have nothing off of which to base our instruction.

So, regarding the role of the head in the golf swing, today I decided to browse through a few of books we have on the shelf at work.  But, instead of reading from the well known teachers, I decided to read from the well known career long players.  Interestingly, there was almost no debate to at least what their “feels” and “cues” were regarding the head.  The books by career long players I had handy were “Golf My Way” by Jack Nicklaus and “365 Golf Lessons” by Gary Player. I’d be interested to read a few more as time goes on.

Here are some snapshots (click to enlarge):

365 Lessons - Gary Player

365 Lessons – Gary Player

Golf My Way - Jack Nicklaus

Golf My Way – Jack Nicklaus

Golf My Way - Jack Nicklaus

Golf My Way – Jack Nicklaus

Golf My Way - Jack Nicklaus

Golf My Way – Jack Nicklaus

We all know that feel is not real.  So, you may say “well neat, those great players ‘feel’ like they do not move their head but I can find a clip of them moving their head!”. And indeed, you probably can find a swing or a picture of someone doing almost anything in the swing.



But that’s where geometry comes into play.  We can clearly see that these players feel and describe they like to keep their head stable because of the geometry.

The Impact Zone - Bobby Clampett

The Impact Zone – Bobby Clampett

Quickly, this means that the players understand that the club travels in an arc; when you move a piece like the head, the arc also moves, making it harder to consistently strike the ground where intended. Bobby Clampett describes the importance of having a predictable pattern above and that goes hand in hand with the ability to strike the ground in the place and direction intended. If the arc and thus path are moving all over the place, a repeatable pattern becomes harder. Unless, of course, if your pattern is to be unpredictable! So while you can find great players over time  whose heads stay stable or move slightly (athleticism and timing can help compensate for that movement), the theme here I found is that they are not purposefully trying to nor are they advocating it.

The point of this post was to provide the perspective of some well known people who played the game of golf.  If you are so inclined, another interesting study is to look at some current players swings over the last decade and measure their head movement. Machines that measure ball and club data (Foresight HMT, TrackMan, Flightscope, etc.) have made understanding what pieces influence distance and accuracy easier to comprehend and tour players are prime examples of people who are implementing their findings. See what you find.

Hope everyone is doing well. Just wanted to share a thought explaining that whether players over time have, do, or will keep their head stable, there’s a good reason to understand it’s effect: the importance of geometry. Share yours too below.


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