Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a GOLF.com series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.
Many amateurs overlook the importance of head position in the golf swing, but there’s a reason why Jack Nicklaus says it’s crucial.
“The most important thing in the golf swing is to keep your head right there, dead still,” Nicklaus said. “Feel as though there’s a shaft right down through your head and you just keep it right there and revolve around that area.”
Sure, having hip rotation and extending your arms is also key, but without having control of your head, all the moving parts won’t work in unison in order to maximize ball contact.
Personally speaking, I’ve been known to dip my head by getting my weight too far forward, which leads to an out-to-in swing path that often causes an open clubface — which is why I’ve battled a slice for years. To correct this, I’m working on my golf posture and swing sequence, which will allow me to properly rotate and extend through the ball for added power.
With head position in the golf swing being so important, GOLF Top 100 Teacher George Gankas has some tips to help make sure you’re aligned properly.
In the video below, Gankas walks through some common flaws he sees in players — including my mistake of dropping my head — and provides some instructions on how to fix them. Take a look at what he has to say.
The importance of head position in the golf swing
Just as Nicklaus preached about the importance of the head position in the golf swing, Gankas does the same, and walks through some checkpoints to make sure your head is in the proper spot.
“My head could move off the ball, it could move towards the target, it could drop, it could raise up in the backswing,” Gankas says. “There’s a lot of ways this head can move around, and it’s dictated by how we extend our spine. How much left bend we have.”
Next, Gankas describes common flaws that he sees, describing different ways that the head may be positioned in the golf swing.
“If I stood straight up and down and I turned and went back into my spine flexion and hip flexion, my head’s going to be off the ball,” he adds. “If I don’t have any left bend, then my head’s going to immediately want to go around and I’m going to want to move inside and off the ball.”
So how can a player correct this problem to keep the head centered? Gankas says it’s important to stand up tall and extend the spine.
“To keep the head centered, all you need to remember is just stand up, turn, go into a left bend, get the hip in flexion, and you’re in a good position,” he says. “Around the spine and then extend the spine. That’s how easy it is to keep your head centered through the shot.”
The goal of the golf swing is to extend your body all the way through impact, which Gankas says requires straightening your knees, hips and spine, all while using some tilts.
“That’s what is keeping your head centered,” he says. “If your head is moving off forward in the downswing, it’s because you don’t have right bend. If it’s moving back, it’s probably because your [back] shoulder’s dropping without any turn.
“When you start to turn with extension and tilt, your head will stay on center and your contact will get better. That’s how easy it is to keep your head centered.”
So use these checkpoints (and check out the video) on the practice range to get a better idea of your head position. By correcting even the tiniest flaw, you’ll begin to experience better ball contact.
Rukket Sports Pathfinder Impact Mat™
Are you looking for a golf training mat to help your golf game? The Rukket Pathfinder Impact Mat™ was designed with input from professional golfers and golf teachers to help players of all abilities improve their game. The strike mat tracks club face alignment and helps ensure clean contact with the ball while the foam pylons can be used to keep your swing on plane. Use all four pylons to practice hitting straighter shots or remove pylons to practice hitting draw or fade shots. It’s the most versatile golf swing practice mat available and works with every club in your bag!
2-in-1 golf swing training mat combining the features of an impact mat / strike mat and a swing path trainer to help golfers quickly identify and correct common swing problems like hooks and slices.
It’s a golf swing impact / strike mat to help identify and correct club face alignment. Use the “velvet” turf to ensure you’re making clean contact with the ball.
It’s also a golf swing training aid to help with swing plane alignment. Use it to fix a slice or a hook, and to practice hitting draw and fade shots.
What’s in the Box
(1) Rukket Pathfinder Impact Mat™
(4) Foam Pylons
(1) Instruction Booklet
25in x 13in x 0.8in
RUKKET FAIR PLAY GUARANTEE & LIFETIME WARRANTY: At Rukket Sports we know you came to win. We also understand that in order to win you need to train hard, so that’s why we’re proud to offer the Rukket Fair Play Guarantee & Lifetime Warranty for no-risk purchasing plus outstanding USA-based customer service!