Looking for part 3? When it is released, you will receive an email, so be on the lookout!
If you missed part 1 of this series, check it out here.
- You will learn a guaranteed way to never top the ball again through some basic physics
- You will learn how to take the "2 Lever Model" (i.e. the golf robot) and apply it to your game
- You will learn the three downfalls that golfers fall into when trying to keep the "head steady" throughout the swing
It’s great to see you here for part 2 of this three part lesson! Most people drop out after lesson one and continue their never-ending search for the quick fix in golf, so I’m glad you’re here and ready to actually learn this game!
In the first part of this lesson, I talked to you briefly about the difference between keeping your head down and head steady. Today, I will finish teaching you why keeping your head steady in the swing is so important and why it is misinterpreted so often!
As I mentioned before, I'm not teaching you the "secret move" of the golf swing. That's not my style. At The DIY Golfer, I teach you the why before the how so that you can develop lasting frameworks of knowledge and improve your game through more efficient, informed practice. After all, if you can explain the causes and effects in different areas of the golf swing, you will no longer spend those empty hours of practice where you put in the work, but don't see the results.
Anyways, enough with my ranting, let’s jump into the lesson.
Topping or thinning the golf ball is not something you can fix directly. It is the effect of other swing components working against each other. In the next few minutes, I'm not only going to prove this to you, but I'll give you specific guidance on how you should be moving your head, or not moving it, in the golf swing.
As I mentioned in the first part of this lesson, the golf swing can be modeled off something called the "2-lever model" which is shown again below.
Why do we care about this again?
We care because it tells us the following.
Assuming a golfer keeps his lead arm straight and impacts the ball with a flat left wrist (more on this later), the low point of the swing will be underneath the left shoulder when the lead arm and shoulders are perpendicular.
Yes, I know this is a lot to take in, so let's look at a much simpler representation of the golf swing.
On your screen, you’ll see a pendulum swinging back and forth. The reason I’m showing you this is because it represents what angular motion looks like, and in a sense, how the golf swing works.
Although sometimes, the golf swing feels a bit more like this:
At its essence, the golf swing is just a mass (clubhead) moving on an arc (or angular motion). In the first visualization, it is easy to understand what we call the "low point" in the golf swing. Obviously, the low point of this is right in the middle at the moment when the pendulum changes from going downwards to going upwards.
Now the question is... What happens when we move the center of the circle?
The low point moves too!
This simple visual makes sense, but it is pretty far removed from the 2-lever model, which is also not a perfect representation of the actual golf swing, but good enough for us right now.
Let's now go back to the 2-lever model:
When you add an extra hinge to a pendulum, it complicates things a little, but also allows us to generate a much faster club speed due to the fact that the second lever “lags” behind the first lever.
But now, we have two variables that affect the low point. First, if we move the center of the circle, we get a different low point. Second, if we do not maintain a flat left wrist through impact, our low point changes as well. For the sake of time, we will save the discussion of that flat left wrist for later as it has lots of subtleties that go along with it.
Let's instead focus on this point of how changing the center of this rotation changes the low point, which effectively determines whether you contact the ball solidly or top it.
If you remember, we said the lead shoulder was the center of the circle in the two lever model. So if we can keep the lead shoulder in the same place throughout the swing, we can control the low point and never top the ball again!
Slow down there...
It's not that easy, and you know it. The golf swing is much more complex than a robot model and there is no physical way to effectively hit the golf ball while keeping your lead shoulder in the same place.
And this is where everything starts to come together. If we know it is impossible to keep that left shoulder centered, then what can we keep centered? Well, the actual center of the golf swing is somewhere in the thoracic region, or what we call the upper chest. If you look at any tour pro, this portion of their body stays relatively centered throughout the backswing and impact.
Most golfers have a hard time keeping this part of their body steady by thinking about it. Imagine if I asked you to eat a meal keeping your "upper chest" steady. It's hard to do because you're not even quite sure where that is on your body! You don't have body awareness.
But something we do have body awareness of is our head. If I asked you to eat a meal keeping your head steady the entire time, you very well could (although it would probably get a bit messy).
So in the golf swing, we are going to focus on keeping the head steady because by doing this, you are doing everything in your power to control the low point of the swing.
But how do you properly do that?!
The best way for me to show you how to do this is to describe how not to do it, and that is through the Big 3 downfalls. If you fall victim to any of the downfalls I’m about to describe, this concept of a steady head will not actually translate into more consistent golf shots.
One of the biggest problems with trying to keep the head steady is doing a reverse pivot.
This is where your head actually comes down and forward. To avoid doing this, you may need to have someone hold a golf club atop your head during your golf swings until you naturally know what it feels like to keep your head steady.
Another problem you might face that is exactly opposite of the reverse pivot is the shallow turn. This is usually characterized by a flat shoulder turn and possibly a slight "sway" of the head.
The best way to fix this is by placing a club across your shoulders and practicing your turn; making sure that the club points somewhere just outside of the golf ball.
This final problem is where we started this discussion from. Most golfers attempt to keep their head steady for too long, which causes improper impact alignments and an overall painful golf swing!
You should only focus on keeping your head steady through the backswing. Once the downswing starts, your head is naturally going to come down a few centimeters, and at impact, backwards a few centimeters.
I don't have time in this lesson to explain why these movements happen with the head in the downswing, but long story short, your hips go forward and your spine tilts backward to allow your head to remain relatively steady through the strike.
We definitely don't have time to get into detail on this subject, but if you hang around here long enough, you'll quickly realize that a steady head with a bent lead wrist is just as bad as a head that moves all over the place!
Although I cannot spend much time on this topic, I'll give you a hint on how to fix it if you notice yourself bending that lead wrist at impact. If you get that head steady but notice you still aren't contacting the ball solidly, try hitting a bunch of lead-handed chip shots (i.e. left hand only chips for a right-handed golfer).
I can tell you why you should keep a steady head in the golf swing and describe how not to do it, but ultimately, you will need to verify that you are actually doing it right.
To do this, all you'll need is a smartphone camera and a friend/tripod. Here are the steps you'll take.
- Film your swing from the face-on (FO) swing view, and make sure the camera is steady
- Download the V1 Golf App
- Import your swing video to V1 and in the "analyze" mode, draw a box around your head
- Play the swing through, and verify that your head stays in the box during the entirety of the backswing. Again, don’t worry too much about the downswing right now.
Man!!! Who thought there was so much to talk about with keeping the head steady in the golf swing! You've probably tried to keep your head down and listened to instructors talk about it, but you probably haven't ever learned why keeping the head steady is important.
To reiterate, it is important because it allows you to control the low point of the golf swing, which allows you to strike the golf ball solidly and more consistently.
Earlier in this lesson, I mentioned that this is not the "magic move" of the golf swing. If you've paid attention, you are probably starting to recognize that there are several "magic moves" that must come together if you want to strike the ball well and strike it consistently.
I genuinely believe that learning to keep your head steady is one of those "archimedes levers" in the golf swing. I've seen golfers improve their strikes within a few hours by practicing this concept alone for many of the reasons we discussed in this second part of the lesson.
But there are obviously many other topics to cover in order for you to start breaking 90 more consistently, and that's what we will be doing in the final part of this lesson. We will look at the bigger picture and learn how this steady head concept fits into the larger picture of game improvement.
Keep an eye on your inbox, and in the meantime, leave a comment below answering the following questions:
If you were given 10 minutes and 1 question with Butch Harmon, what would you ask him about the golf swing?