A Consistent Spine Angle Will Lead to Improved Impact No Matter Your Body Type
By Keith Stewart, PGA
If you’re a fan of golf, then you were rewarded this weekend. Whether it was Lydia Ko’s seven-shot win in Hawaii or Stewart Cink’s four-shot victory in Hilton Head, we all got to see some tremendous golf.
Both winners on the LPGA and PGA Tour set records with their play. In order to create as many birdies as they did with their putters, they both needed to hit a ton of greens in regulation.
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Harbor Town is a demanding Pete Dye designed test. Known as a ball strikers paradise on tour, Stewart Cink put on a clinic this week by hitting 78% of the greens in regulation (56/72). Even more impressive was Lydia Ko in Hawaii. She hit 89% of her greens (64/72).
Though their body types are different and their swings visually varied, there is one significant characteristic they both share which any PGA Coach will tell you leads to a reliable strike at impact. Take a look at either of these two golfers at address. They both possess a nice consistent spine angle.
Upon the completion of their backswing with the club secure at the top, the angle of their spine looks quite similar. Fast forward through transition and into impact. You guessed it; the spine is still propped at the same angle where they started. Follow through to the finish position as the ball is reliably launched toward its target, and the spine still maintains that same appearance.
Lydia Ko has 1 bogey on the LPGA Tour over her last 100 holes. That level of consistency comes from having a very comfortable and reliable motion.
If you want to become a very consistent golfer then you must maintain a consistent spine angle throughout your swing.
Don’t get hyper-focused on this. It’s not a static feeling stopping at each position along the way trying to remain perfectly bent over. Rather learn from these two very different body types and their approach. Our body structure determines our positions and here’s how you learn to feel them.
Start by standing straight up with your arms outstretched from your sides. Begin by turning your body back and forth keeping those arms level and your spine vertical. Once you get a good solid feeling for this movement, bend at your hips until you reach your golf posture and continue the turning motion. Your arms will still be extended. Since your spine is now on an incline, as your body turns the arms will feel like they are moving on a similar plane to your golf swing. Keep those arms out and turn that body. While you perform this exercise, try to keep your spine from moving back and forth or side to side.The next step is to take a club, any club but the putter will do, and grip it. Make your turns again standing vertical with the club outstretched in front of you. Keep that spine consistent and vertical. No swaying. Grasp that feeling and then take your address posture and continue your turns. Concentrate again on keeping the spine rather motionless so the arms and body can turn around it.
That’s the feeling Lydia and Stewart have when they swing. That’s what creates their consistent strike at impact. Most of us don’t realize how much our spine moves around in our golf swing. Going through the above demonstration gives you that feeling of turning around your spine rather than the spine moving to generate a swinging motion.
Keep practicing this feeling during your practice sessions and at home. Get comfortable knowing less is more when it comes to movement. For when you do, you’ll start creating some record setting performances of your own.