There are so many things to take care of during the golf swing, how do you keep track of them all? How about here’s another one to keep track of? You’re welcome.
This one is pretty important. It has to do with swinging around a stationary spine. Stationary in two dimensions.
From a down-the-line view, it means keeping the angle of forward bending constant. From a face-on view, it means not having the spine sway back and forth.
Without too much exaggeration, it means imagining your spine is a rod with a fixed tilt that rotates around a fixed axis. I hope that makes sense.
The first part has to with the up and down location of the bottom point of your swing (Figure1). If you raise up when you take the club back, that raises the bottom point of your swing. Now you have the problem of getting it back to where it was you started–not too far back down, and not staying too far up. Who can get that right from swing to swing?
The second part has to with the side-to-side location of the bottom point (Figure 2). It’s real hard to get ball first-ground second contact when the swing keeps bottoming out in a different spot, relative to the location of the ball.
The easiest way to start working on this principle is by hitting 60-yard or so pitches with a sand wedge. It’s a small swing, one that is easy to stay still for. You can ease into longer clubs with bigger swings as you get comfortable with what’s going on with the wedge.
Don’t be rigid (literally!). You can keep your spine in place without putting tension into your back. Think that the spine can move, you just don’t let it move.
The first time I broke 80, many years ago, “rotate around a stationary spine” was my swing thought for the entire round (back in the day when I still relied on technical swing thoughts). Boy, was I hitting the ball great.
I got reminded of this point last week at the range. I wasn’t hitting the ball very well. There was a guy about 40 feet in front of me hitting one fine shot after another with an effortless swing. After enough watching him long enough, I realized he just turned one way, turned the other way with his back staying gracefully still.
So I started doing that again, a feature I had somehow drifted away from, and started hitting the ball like I wanted to.
Let me give you another way of looking at it. Paul Runyan talked about the suspension point of the swing, around which the swing turns. He identified it as the big bone at the base of your neck (C7 vertebrae).
One year at an LPGA tournament in Portland, I stood behind the players on the first tee, so I was looking at their back. I kept my eye on the C8 spot. With player after player, it didn’t move until after the ball was hit and they rose into their finish. It didn’t move up and down, it didn’t move side to side.
It didn’t move.