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Golf Myth: Keep Your Head Down

Discover why keeping your head down in golf can hinder your swing. Learn the benefits of head stability for power and accuracy in your game.
Keeping Your Head Still in Golf

For generations, golfers have been taught a fundamental rule: keep your head down during the swing. It’s a well-intentioned piece of advice meant to encourage stability and focus on the ball. The logic is sound – if your eyes remain fixed on the ball, you’re less likely to mishit or misjudge your swing. Consequently, many instructors often emphasize this aspect of form to golfers, especially beginners, as a foundational principle of a good swing. In this article, I’ll explore why fixating on keeping your head down in golf can be detrimental to your swing mechanics and overall performance on the course.

Origins of Keeping Your Head Down in Golf

The concept of keeping your head down likely stems from the idea that maintaining a steady gaze on the ball can lead to better contact and accuracy. The logic is sound – if your eyes remain fixed on the ball, you’re less likely to mishit or misjudge your swing. Consequently, instructors often emphasize this aspect of form to golfers, especially beginners, as a foundational principle of a good swing.

The Problem with Overemphasizing Head Down

While some degree of head stability is indeed important in golf, overemphasizing the need to keep your head down can create several issues:

1. Restricted Body Turn

While maintaining some head stability is important, keeping your head glued to the ground restricts your body turn. Some golfers even tend to bend the neck so their head actually faces their toes more which creates a poor posture which is vital to an athletic swing. A lack of a proper body turn will lead to a steep swing causing inconsistent contact and most likely always pushing the ball out. Keeping consistent balance during the swing will be hard to do as well.

2. Loss of Power and Fluidity

The golf swing generates power through the transfer of energy from the lower body to the upper body. If the head is kept down too forcefully, it can disrupt this flow, causing a loss of fluidity and power in the swing. Golfers may find themselves struggling to generate sufficient clubhead speed and distance.

3. Poor Posture and Balance

Fixating on keeping the head down often leads to an unnatural bending of the neck or spine, which can compromise overall posture. This poor posture not only affects the quality of the swing but also increases the risk of injury, particularly in the neck and back. Additionally, maintaining balance throughout the swing becomes challenging when the body’s natural movement is restricted by an overly rigid head position.

I explain to my students that your head will stay still if you turn your body properly rather than sway or come out of your set-up posture so it’s not really keeping your head down, rather than keeping it still so your body can rotate underneath it. 

A New Perspective: Head Still, Not Down

I will start off by saying that your head actually does move during the swing but it’s more of a rotation than a sway. It’s all about starting your swing properly with a turn to keep your posture and your head in the right positions. Too much movement early will lead to unwanted movements for the rest of your swing.

Instead of focusing solely on keeping the head down, golfers should aim for head stability – the idea of keeping the head relatively still throughout the swing while allowing for natural movement and rotation of the body underneath it. This subtle shift in focus encourages a more dynamic and athletic swing, promoting better rhythm, timing, and consistency.

Steps to Achieve Keeping your Head more Still 

Focus on Body Rotation

Initiate the swing by engaging the hips and shoulders to rotate smoothly. Keep your lower body still at the beginning of your swing. Wait for the top part of your body to rotate so the lower body will follow in suit with the same rotation. Allow the head to follow this rotational movement naturally. (Your head may rotate up to 7-8 degrees to the trail side to keep in line with your body)

Proper Weight Transfer

As soon as you take the club back, you will feel weight into your right foot by default. This is the time to allow that pressure to build on your right side while you are still turning. 

Loose Grip Pressure

Keep your grip pressure loose (not too loose!) so you can feel your upper torso and shoulders become a lever to move that clubhead at takeaway

Maintain Relaxed Muscles

Avoid tensing the neck and upper body. Keep the muscles relaxed to facilitate a fluid and unrestricted swing.

Practice with Purpose

Spend time on the driving range working on drills that encourage body rotation and head stability. Gradually integrate these principles into your swing.

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V Tongwarin

Visanu Tongwarin or “Coach V” is a Class A PGA Teaching Professional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course and Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster, Colorado. V's brings his passion for teaching the game of golf to all levels of golfers from running children clinics to training state champions and seasoned professionals.