quick coaching

Want to Play Well? Keep a Level Head

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Cam Smith recorded a historic victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. His 34 under par total included 31 birdies and 3 eagles! On top of this amazing under par score he led the tournament from start to finish and spent the last two rounds holding off the number one player in the world, Jon Rahm.
Smith is known for his prowess with the putter and radar-like accuracy in his wedge game. What’s interesting from a PGA Coaching perspective on his record-breaking score was his ability to drive the golf ball. He gained nearly four strokes on the field with his use of the big stick. That’s very impressive considering the strength of this field in that category. Even more interesting is when we look back to last season, Cam ranked 119 th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.
How did Cam make this move and become an elite driver of the golf ball this week? The key is in that flat brim cap he wears. Look at this swing video shared by the PGA Tour.
Notice how steady Smith’s head stays during the backswing. Every golfer can improve their contact by paying attention to that move. As a PGA Coach, I’m always amazed at how much everyone’s head moves as we start swinging. Take a closer look at Cam’s takeaway. The brim stays steady even as he swings the club back. It’s natural to move our head as we move our arms and torso. You must try and resist dipping or lifting that brim as you swing.
Here’s a quick drill you can do at home. All you will need is a dry erase marker, a mirror and a second person just to get started.
  • Stand so that the mirror is to your trail side. Your full profile from head to toe should be in view. Make sure you are far enough away from the mirror so you can make a safe backswing.
  • Take your address position. Once you are set and about to start your swing, have your assistant draw a flat line on the mirror along the top of your head. The line should match your tilt. This means it should be like Cam’s brim. The line should be pointing slightly down just like your head is.
  • Once the line is drawn, make a backswing.
  • Did you keep your head just beneath the line or did it move?
  • Keep making a backswing motion and keep your head from lifting or dipping down.
  • Practice staying tall and steady just to the top of your backswing.
This drill isn’t meant to make you feel stiff. Rather, the goal is for you to get a feeling for what should be moving. If you are lifting or dipping, then you are swaying in your takeaway. Stay tall and you’ll turn better. As we all know if we can increase our turn, our contact will improve as well. Keep the line on your mirror and continue to practice the drill for fifteen swings each night. By week’s end you’ll have made over 100 training swings.
Cam’s example is one we can all learn from. This simple move allowed him to register a Top 10 week in all the major ball striking categories. As we begin a new season, let’s copy Smith’s flow by improving one of our basic swing fundamentals.