When all is going wrong on the course or on the range there’s always one person floating around with a nugget of information that’s given with the best intention, however this information comes with serious consequences.
Have you guessed it yet? The advice “to keep your head down” or to keep looking at the ground which is given indiscriminately to help struggling golfers to make contact with the ball. This piece of information is said to be the route of most golfers bad shots but it couldn’t be further from the truth and in fact I have NEVER seen a golfer ‘lifting their head’. Many golfers move their head vertically up and down in a golf swing and still make great contact with the ball. I would go as far as to say it is actually essential to allow your head to move freely and turn towards the target in order to play golf effectively.
That means that ‘keeping your head down’ cannot be the answer for better golf.
The unfortunate truth is, keeping your head down (staring at the ground for longer) will actually make things a lot worse and rarely helps at all, if it does help there’s a good chance it’s a placebo effect and will not yield long term results.
So why is keeping your head down so bad? The movement of your neck and head heavily restricts the freedom that your torso and arms have to move. By fixing the head and neck for too long during the follow through you will restrict the bodies movement and in turn encourage the arms to flex heavily, disconnecting them from your body. This flexing and disconnecting will begin pre impact and severely effect the contact and direction. The disconnection and flexing of the arms will create huge inconsistency in the way the club is delivered and make hitting the ball at all a far greater challenge.
This myth must have come from somewhere so why would the head feel like it’s lifting and why may it look that way to the untrained eye? To answer this we need to first understand the factors that’s control where and how the club hits the ground.
There are 2 main factors that control the low point of the swing, here is a simple way to look at it. Imagine that the golf swing is a big wheel, the hub of the wheel is your sternum which everything moves around. The point of the wheel that comes in contact with the road is always the spot directly underneath the hub. So basically speaking the club will enter the ground vertically in line with where ever your sternum is positioned.
However there is one factor that can stop this occurring. A wheel along with a hub also has spokes in order to keep it a circle. The spoke of the golf swing is the leading arm. A bent leading arm will make the club hit the turf earlier than in line with the sternum reaching the lowest point before it should.
A straight leading arm will ensure the symmetry and radius of the circle are kept intact. So by keeping the leading arm straight you will hit the ground inline with the sternum as intended. After the club has hit the ground the club will of course begin its journey upwards and away from the ground with the body and head following.
Now we understand how the club hits the ground in relation to the body we can uncover the myth. The most common fault in golf shown by conclusive research is the weight and body positioned too far back as the club head enters the impact zone. If the weight and the body are too far back the centre of the swing will be behind the ball and the club will reach its lowest point too early. This means that by the time the club reaches the ball it will already be on its way up. During the upward portion of the golf swing as I have mentioned the head will begin to turn and move upwards naturally, this will give the golfer the feeling that they’ve lifted their head too early! The fact is that they haven’t lifted too early they just had their weight too far back.
So if you’ve been told that you’re lifting your head the answer is simple –
Don’t keep your head down!
Instead make sure your set up with more weight on your leading foot say 60-70%, do this by pressing your hips only forwards to favour the leading foot. The second thing you need to do is hit some shots finishing with straight arms and a flat leading wrist (like a punch finish). By working on these pieces you’ll ensure that your working on the right things to make better contact with the ball.
One last thing to mention, ensure you let your head turn with your body during the follow through, under no circumstance keep it down! Try doing some small golf swings keeping your weight forward and finishing with straight arms focusing on turning your head along with your arms to the finish.
Good luck with your practice and NEVER keep your head down.