Spine Angle: Maintain or increase through impact

Maintaining or increasing your spine angle is a good fundamental that promotes solid ball striking for a number of reasons.

The role of the spine in the swing

Your spine is the axis around which the swing happens.  If you change your spine angle, say toward the target during the swing, you are changing the axis around which the swing happens and introducing compensations.  Your body will need to compensate in order to try to square the club head at impact.  Tilting your spine angle towards the target forces the club to come from an outside-to-inside path, also known as the slicer’s swing path.  Maintaining or increasing your spine tilt away from the target promotes an inside-to-outside swing path that leads to solid ball striking.

In the following two images you can see where my spine angle started, and how I’ve increased my spine angle away from the target at impact.

Start with a tilt away from the target

Spine1Increase it through impact

Spine2Increasing my spine angle helps to keep my head behind the golf ball and allows me to really compress it.

Bad things that happen when you don’t maintain spine angle away from the target:

  • You become prone to reverse pivot
  • Transitioning to on plane or underplane swing more difficult
  • Compensations take away from generating power and accuracy
  • Causes Out to in swing path leading to slices

Good things that happen when you can maintain it or even increase it:

  • Simple to coil
  • Simple to transition to downswing
  • Easier to maintain plane
  • Less compensation
  • Puts you in ideal position to start downswing
  • Puts you in ideal position at impact

When you find swing videos on youtube of your favorite pros, notice their spine angle.  Find a swing of someone who slices the bell and take a look at their spine throughout the swing.  I think you’ll find some pretty dramatic differences.

I read a statistic that the average tour professional increases their spine angle by 13 degrees.

This does not mean that you need to increase it by 13 degrees.  Start with learning to maintain it on the backswing and without worrying about the downswing.  Once you can do that routinely then you can begin working on maintaining it on the downswing, and finally increasing it if you want to.

One other thing to take away from this post.  Look at the address position.  Make sure that you start with your spine tilting away from the target.  Then just try to maintain it.  They say that 90% of swing errors are caused by a fault in the setup.  Get the setup correct and you are on your way to greatly improving your swing.

5 thoughts on “Spine Angle: Maintain or increase through impact”

  1. Brilliant blog. Everything you’ve written speaks to me. I was practicing yesterday and the spine angle thing hit me too. I have two ways of achieving it and not sure which one works better:

    1) I focus on my arms dropping vertically down on the downswing.

    2) Feel as my left hip (I’m a lefty) is moving towards the ball.

    I’d like to put less focus on my arms and more on my lower body, so as to not get an upper body dominated swing, but it’s the one that is more consistent for me. Again great blog and please keep us updated.

  2. Hi Randy,

    It’s a good idea not to get an upper body dominated swing. One of the concepts to think about is having the upper body, especially the arms, be basically passive, where they are responding to the coiling and uncoiling of the core. I think it’s a good way to put it, but it is not easy to do in practice.

    Having the arms drop straight down is a good way to think about it as well. Take some video of your swing from a down the line perspective and see if your arms actually drop straight down. You might find that they do not.

    I actually try to feel as if my hands and arms drop down and slightly back of me. This keeps my left arm glued to my chest a bit better (something Hogan talked about).

    As for the left moving towards the ball, that’s a very good thought. Thanks for your feedback.

  3. I’ve been swinging inside and using the concept of keeping my leading arm glued to my chest and it feels great. The reason I like it so much is because it’s a much more passive swing thought than the previous one I was using (vertically drop arms). Thanks for the tip. I’ll let you know how it feels on the range and course!

  4. Randy,
    Tilting the spine slightly initially and keeping my upper left arm against my chest has made all the difference in the world for my distance and accuracy. I actually did this before reading this post. It is refreshing to read something that verifies what I discovered on my own.

    Thanks

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