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Love it or hate it, Stack and Tilt might help your swing

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Stack and Tilt.

The moment someone utters those three little words there’s a thought that jumps into your head and also a connotation. It is one of the most loaded phrases in all of golf and the elephant in the room in terms of golf instruction.

Every season I get a handful of new students who come to me and the first question they ask is, “You’re not going to make me do anything CRAZY like Stack and Tilt, right?”

I never quite understood how Stack and Tilt had become a pejorative phrase among golfers until it dawned on me, it’s different and it actually works.

It doesn’t just work though, it contradicts a myriad of concepts  “top golf instructors” in the world teach and therein lies the problem. I will admit I am not a full fledged “Stack and Tilt’er,” but I do incorporate aspects of it in my own swing. Let’s take a look at Stack and Tilt’s basic concepts, why it is scrutinized and see how you might be able to utilize them to improve your golf swing.

The Basics (for a right-handed golfer):

  • Weight Forward
  • (Left) Shoulder Down
  • Hands In
  • Straight Leg (right)
  • Arms Straight
  • Tuck Hips

Weight Forward

Stack weight forward

Flaw: Old school instruction used to teach a full turn with your weight balanced between your two legs, moving the majority of the weight to the back leg and then fully transferring it on the down swing to the lead leg. The problem with this is that many amateur golfers hear this and begin to move their weight and their entire upper body to the right on the back swing, resulting in a sway.

Fix: Stack and Tilt advises you to start with more weight on the lead leg (55 percent or even more), and during your back swing feel an increase in percentage (60 percent or more). This concept eliminates the sway and forces your body to stay more centered over the ball throughout the entire swing. If you struggle with a sway, using a weight forward concept is great option to help you remedy your problem.

Shoulder Down

Stack shoulder down

Flaw: A lot of golfers concentrate on generating a full turn in their back swing, but many most don’t realize that when they make that turn it needs to be done on an angle where the shoulders turn down and not out. Many amateur golfers don’t turn their shoulders on an angle and as a result need to raise and lift the arms to generate height on the back swing causing erratic loops and inconsistent swings.

Fix: Stack and Tilt states that if you can get your left shoulder to turn down and not out, it allows the head to remain steady and it also allows the club to move vertically without lifting. Keeping the head steady is also key fundamental for striking the ball first and eliminating fat shots. Many golf instructors don’t emphasize this enough during golf instruction, and as a result many golfers generate height in their back swing by lifting the club rather than letting the shoulders do the work. If you struggle with inconsistent ball striking turning your left shoulder down can help alleviate a variety of swing faults.

Hands In

Stack hands in

Flaw: The closer to your body you can keep your arms the better. Take a look at the above pictures, the picture on the left shows a golfer moving the club “straight back,” which is commonly taught by golf instructors. Not only does it move the club immediately off plane, but it causes the arms to disconnect from the body, thus losing any possibility of repeating this move consistently.

Fix: Stack and Tilt advises golfers to move there “hands in,” forcing the club to swing on an arc and thus remaining connected to the body for a more repeatable takeaway. Many high handicappers disconnect their arms immediately to start their swing and either move the club too far inside or too far outside making every swing different than the next. By using Stack and Tilt’s “hands in” fundamental, you can start to improve your takeaway and keep better connection to your body throughout your swing.

Straight Leg

Stack Leg Straight

Jim McLean just had a heart attack. Just kidding, but isn’t maintaining the flex in your back leg one of the most important rules in golf?

Flaw: Believe it or not, it is impossible to maintain the same amount of flex during your back swing and turn your hips at the same time. To be able to make a full shoulder turn, you need to turn your hips. To do so, you need to change the amount of flex each leg.

Fix: The more your back leg straightens, the more your hips can turn, which lets your shoulders turn even more. Its a win-win. Like anything in golf, we want moderation, so don’t lock the back leg but feel free to let your hips turn and allow that trail leg to elongate on the back swing. Many senior golfers have trouble with making a full turn and generating distance with their golf swing due to flexibility issues but when I get them to turn their hips they create a fuller turn resulting in dramatically more distance.

Arms Straight

Stack Arms foldedStack Arms Straight

Flaw: Maintaining length and creating extension are two of the most important aspects of the golf swing. Many beginners tend to misinterpret a hinge of the wrist for a bending of the arm.

Fix: Stack and Tilt emphasizes maintaining extension not only on the back swing, but at impact and into your finish. Many instructors teach the importance of extension, and over look how important maintaining that extension well after impact is as well. Not only will this help produce consistent ball striking, but it will also help generate club head speed through impact. Signs that indicate your extension may be lacking are large divots, seeing the club over your shoulder on the back swing, and the club hitting or resting on your shoulders at the top of your back swing.

Tuck Hips

Stack Tuck

Flaw: Many golfers have a difficult time finishing their swing and maintaining their balance after impact.

Fix: There may be a variety of reason for this, so Stack and Tilt simplified things by saying, “Raise the belt and tuck the hips.” Take a look above — by raising the belt, the golfer is forced to clear their hips fully, and by tucking the hips the golfer has placed their core directly over the lead leg in a stable and balanced manner. If you have difficulty maintaining your balance or fully finishing your golf swing, Stack and Tilt is a viable option for creating a stable finish, something all golf instructors can agree upon.

Stack and Tilt is not nearly as terrifying as golf commentators and non-believers make it out to be. It is merely a sequence of moves to get your body moving in a more efficient manner. Although it may seem radical to straighten the trail leg and not transfer weight backward, it is essential to exaggerate these moves to eliminate common faults and misconceptions that have plagued the average golfer for centuries.

There is no perfect way to swing the golf club and there will never be a perfect way to swing the golf club, but there are ways to swing the golf club more efficiently, and Stack and Tilt may be able to help you do that. If your golf swing isn’t quite where it belongs, it might be time to take a look at Stack and Tilt. It may just be the change you’re looking for.

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Scott is a Certified Personal Coach at GolfTEC Main Line in Villanova, PA and also the Head Men's Golf Coach @ Division III Rosemont College. Each day he utilizes 3-D Motion Measurements, Foresight Launch Monitors, and high speed video to help each of his students achieve their specific goals. Past experience include owning and and operating the Yur Golf Swing Teaching Academy in Philadelphia. He started my golfing career at Radnor Valley Country Club in Villanova, Penn., and spent time at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla. In his short 7 year instruction career he as taught over 5,000 golf lessons. He currently works with many of the top local Amateur golfers in the Philadelphia area, and many of the best Junior golfers. Teaching golf has always been my passion and with my civil engineering and philosophy background from Villanova University, I am able bring interesting perspective and effective techniques to my instruction.

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Glenn kirk

    Aug 4, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Was shanking & hitting woeful iron shots tried stack & tilt now hitting pure irons ????????????

    • Steven

      Aug 8, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Have tried everything for over 10 yrs. Nothing seemed to work until i tried stack and tilt. My ball striking has improved and distance with my irons has added 10 yards. Now, if i can start making putts.

  2. Michael Y.

    Jan 21, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I have struggled often with a repeatable swing. Last week I read then reviewed P & B’s main book on Stack and Tilt. I expect improvements to take some time but hard work is the way to better scoring.
    I have tried the elements of S & T and have never hit my irons better!!! I need more work but their principles have helped me very quickly and given a boost toward the 2105 golf season.
    I know one thing. “The mind is like a parachute; It only functions when it’s open.”

    Michael Y. Las Vegas, Nevada

  3. Pingback: Now Hiring: Swing Coach for Tiger - Alberta SandbaggerAlberta Sandbagger

    • David Lyons

      May 16, 2015 at 5:04 am

      Believe it or not stack and tilt puts much less stress on the back then the moves made above, extension is good for the spine not to mention if a golfer turns and tilts they also extend (fact but still somehow theory) and vice versa as well as vice versa, extend and tilt = turn, extend and turn = tilt imo tigers first swings with foley were very s&tish but then tiger figured it out and went back to a fldxed right leg which led to his back problems(imo), check his warmup for the Ryder cup on YouTube

  4. Uncle Bob

    Jul 2, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Out of sheer desperation, I am just now beginning to use stack and tilt.
    In my first couple sessions i have noticed significant improvement in how I strike the ball. As I get more comfortable, I think that part of the S&T is what I had unknowingly utilized 30+ years ago when I had a low single digit Hdcp. since my index has quadrupled since then, maybe I am onto something. I had gotten far away from the fixed-head and shoulder-tilted turn of my younger days. I slipped into the habit of swaying and sliding. consequently, my iron play and overall game wilted and died. I was either skulling the ball or laying the sod over on top of it. A good shot was simply a random event.
    Rome wasn’t built in a day. So this could take a while. I haven’t taken it to the course yet. But I hope to this weekend. As with any change, it’s going to be problematic not over thinking it. With that in mind, since I have a tendency toward brain lock, what would be the single most important swing thought?
    Thanks,
    bob

    • David Smith

      Jul 22, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      Uncle Bob,

      How’d it go man? Give us an update. I’ve been studying this swing for a year now, I haven’t really given it any attention, I dabbled here and there but get scared trying something new but I am getting tired of inconsistent strikes and considering put it all on the table and giving this a go, I just swung a few wiffle balls in my yard with the principles in mind and it seems like a natural and powerful move thats inviting me to give it my all…. Keep me posted!

      D

  5. adam

    Nov 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    before the stack and tilt golf swing, I was scoring above 100. I could never hit my irons perfect all the time. since using the s&t, I hit all shots pure. I now shoot b/w 87-92. if I improve more on my putting I know that I will shoots in the 80’s all of the time. I recommend the book and/or dvd’s. people say you can’t hit the driver with this swing, which in nonsense. my driver shots are now better that ever. there is just a slight adjustment for the driver, like your hips slide more to the target and remembering to tuck your bottom during the follow through.

  6. Ron M

    Oct 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    I cant thank you enough for this article. I was in a slump and struggling with my ball striking when I came across this article. I thought what the hell and gave S&T a serious try. Im never going back! S&T has completely saved my golf game. My ball striking has greatly improved with every club in the bag. On those occasions i do hit one fat i go back to the fundamentals learned from the book and im rivht back on track. Thank you for this article

  7. Pete Murphy

    Oct 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Although I dont use S&T, when things go wrong with my swing I over exaggerate a movement, ie, shoulder down when not swinging on plane, not transferring I practice not shifting back and other moves that resemble S&T. This article has got me thinking, maybe I should switch to this method,

    Thx
    Pete murphy

    • Scott Yurgalevicz

      Jul 22, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Pete,

      Whether you “switch” to this method or not isn’t a huge deal, just simply adding a few of the pieces and continuing to make improvement is a huge bonus. Lots of people get crazy when you say the term “Stack & Tilt” but lets be honest, I’m a golf professional, in the business of making you a better golfer. If Stack and Tilt helps you and others, I want to learn as much as I can about it!

      Since this article was published I am now S&T Certified and realized just how great and simple this system really is.

      Cheers,

      Scott Yurgalevicz

  8. jaybo4@mac.com

    Jun 10, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    I’m 41 and just attended the 5 day camp at Ironhorse Golf and Country Club in West Palm Beach Florida and it was for sure THE BEST THING I HAVE DONE!
    The instructors that we worked with couldn’t have been better, Dave, Melainey and Steve are so easy to work with and really seam to know their stuff. Also had the chance to meet Mike Bennett and he is exactly like the way he is one of the nicest guys I have met. Thanks to these guys my ball striking is better than ever before and I now know for sure what I’m working on at the range/course is the right way. My only regret is not doing this sooner!!!

    Thanks Again Stack and Tilt
    Jay Black

    • Scott Yurgalevicz

      Jul 22, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Jay Black,

      Very happy you found the article informative and your S&T experience has been a positive one. It is a great system which helps many golfers see great results.

      Cheers,
      Scott

  9. yo!

    Apr 11, 2013 at 2:08 am

    P&B S&T book is the most insightful book with regard to the golfswing since Homer Kelley’s TGM. Dante’s 4 magic moves is a classic as well. Every other golf instruction book have been less than satisfactory.

  10. Jack

    Apr 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I actually didn’t know these were different than normal. Other than the weight forward, and the arms in ones. I am going to try the arms in. Looks like something I haven’t incorporated into my swing. Arms straight too. I often struggle with that as it feels stiff and robotic. I think tiger brings his arms pretty close to his body on the backswing too.

    • Ben Pittman

      Apr 24, 2013 at 9:56 am

      Jack, make sure that if you plan on incorporating the “arms in” that you also get the left shoulder down component . . . otherwise you risk rolling the clubface open on the takeaway. Keeping the clubface square in s&t will feel like it is hooded.

      regards

  11. Blanco

    Apr 3, 2013 at 1:49 am

    I like many/most of the tenants of stack and tilt… however, if anyone wants to throw blame around regarding “how did S&T get such a connotation…” look no further than the “OGs” Plummer and Bennett. From what I’ve researched, these guys are so fire and brimstone about their “method…” that they’ve officially crossed the line into clueless self-absorption. Questionable advertising and using the official web site to publicly insult former students? It’s at best childish and not worthy of my time or money.

  12. Travis Mathews

    Apr 1, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Could someone comment on ball position? Does the traditional ball position thoughts still apply for S&T?

    • Matt Newby, PGA

      Apr 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

      Pending all other things equal…yes

  13. G

    Apr 1, 2013 at 2:36 am

    It works great for mid and short irons, or if you are tall guy, even with the longer clubs as you can really strike down at the ball. But if you’re on the short side, say below 5’7″, it’s harder to get at the ball with the longer clubs, to be so on top, that it doesn’t quite work.
    And then you get stuck (hahaha) trying to hit draw all the time. Great if you never have to play courses that require to hit more fades, or are playing on soft greens that hold, as your ball most likely is going to have draw/hooking spin as it gets to the green, and you have no chance to get at the pins that are tucked into the right side of greens over bunkers and water, etc – try to hit a floating cut shot with backspin with stack, it’s really difficult. Try hitting a major fade ball around trees and the corner because you have to, you would find it really difficult.

    And then there’s the driver………. as one Stack N Tilt teacher ADMITTED: “Yeah, the driver swing…. IT IS different.”

    Don’t do it for all your shots. Learn it for short clubs as it works great for full wedge shots. Learn to use another swing for you driver. Or never play courses that have trees on both sides and lots of dog-leg rights.

    • Scott Yurgalevicz

      Apr 1, 2013 at 9:01 am

      G,

      Although I do agree with you that it is very simple and easy for short/mid clubs, I have to respectfully disagree with your fade & driver comments. In regards to hitting a fade or a cut, take a look at someone who utilizes some of these motions in their swing (although not labeled s&t tiger woods swing comes to mind as he stays center, turns his shoulders on a steeper angle, etc) and he manages to hit a fade & cut very well.

      In terms of driver I find that most students, ESP with a driver turn there shoulders much too flat (a lot almost parallel to the ground) so feeling like your left shoulder turns down with a driver “feels” incredibly radical. What’s funny is I find it just as easy to cut the ball as it is to draw it when done correctly. Breaking through that crazy feel of the left shoulder turning down is tough achieve and takes some time and practice.

      Thanks for the input though it sounds like you have some experience with s&t and some of the principles, I understand that everyone doesn’t have the same swing and that’s perfectly fine but kudos for not being afraid to implement some aspects into your game!

      Cheers

  14. Alex Pisano

    Mar 30, 2013 at 12:35 am

    “Signs that indicate your extension may be lacking are large divots, seeing the club over your shoulder on the back swing, and the club hitting or resting on your shoulders at the top of your back swing.”

    Love the article, however wouldn’t a student lacking arm extension be more likely to not hit the turf at all rather than take large divots? I would see a student lacking in side bend and spine extension at impact taking larger divots.

    • Scott Yurgalevicz

      Mar 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      Alex, I think you’re also correct, but for simplicity I left out side bend, spine extension, etc to keep it easy to understand. There are a variety of reasons for fat shots. I notice a fair amount of clients who struggle with extension actually fold their arms at the elbow during the backs swing and then on the down swing extend them causing the club to strike well behind the golf ball. Thanks for the input!

      • Alex Pisano

        Mar 30, 2013 at 8:15 pm

        Ah now I understand the point you were getting at, nice to see the good word spread!

  15. AJ Ellis

    Mar 29, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    true Scott, feel and real are so different. Video feedback is so helpful in realizing the difference. most everyone needs to exaggerate a “feel” to get into better positions. I think closed mindedness is a reflection of what people hear from the announcers on TV (not really the most up to date if you know what i mean.)

  16. Pingback: Love it or hate it, Stack and Tilt might help your swing – GolfWRX | Golf Grip Instruction

  17. Scott Yurgalevicz

    Mar 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Hey Aj, What I find is most students who move off the ball with an iron do it even more with the longer clubs. Not only do you have to exaggerate the weight forward move with iron but all the clubs including driver and fw woods. Most students actually feel like they are falling/leaning too far towards the target, but when I show them video of their swing they are actually directly over the ball with zero lateral motion. My golf coach always says “feel isn’t real” and that’s a tough thing for students to understand when making this move.

    • kygolfer81

      Mar 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      This is exactly the feeling I had to get. It felt like I was going to tip over at the top (toward the target) but on video I was perfect at the top. Of course, when you’re using to swaying a foot off the ball, staying centered will definitely feel like you’re tipping the other way.

  18. Matt Newby, PGA

    Mar 29, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Scott,

    Well said. I think too often S&T gets a bad wrap in the media for a lot of wrong reasons. That being said I think your title says it the best, S&T “MIGHT” help your swing. I find too many people come in to a golf lesson very closed minded about what they think should happen during the golf swing.

  19. AJ Ellis

    Mar 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    All great for solid, consistent impact and hitting down making good divots. but i think the driver swing should follow a more traditional weigt shift. Do you? (Easily done with the wider stance of the driver swing)

    • Ken McAnally

      Oct 6, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Really Scott, another S&T promotion where a) a short iron is used and b) where really dubious pictures are used to represent the ” problems with traditional swings”…Arms straight pictures supposedlybrepresenting trdaitional method…really ?. The straightening of the right leg, does increase shoulder turn BUT completely ignores the fact that torque has to be built up by “static” hips. If there is no torque build-up, it would be like having a catapult without one end fixed…great shoulder turn, lousy torque. This S&T method does not work with longer clubs, such as driver where the ball is hit with a flat or up trajectory and because the weight is so far left (for RH players) and put further left by S&T, the “angle of attack” of the driver is made ludicrously large. OK S&T people say to “jump up/lift/rotate” to fix that just before impact. Really ? How do the eyes cope with that change at the last moment ?. The “in-to-out” emphasis of S&T is good BUT does encourage conditions which create shanks, by the clubhead moving out, and makes a fade with backspin difficult with shorter irons….try S&T to a tight pin over a bunker. one last point: making a golfer not have weight transfer is like telling a baseball pitcher to keep his leading foot on the ground all the time…..good luck with that. Sure weight transfer can be “overdone” but, keep it inside the trailing foot line…as all great golfers have always done and that is a control.

      • ed

        Jun 21, 2015 at 7:38 am

        Hitting a golf ball is nothing like a pitcher throwing a ball.
        It’s more like a hockey player winding up for a slap shot or a baseball player winding up for a powerful hit.Both can be accomplished with the weight staying forward or weight staying back.In golf weight staying back is bad for all clubs except the driver but it certainly can be accomplished with weight forward.
        Speed,spin (left or right),and contact are much more important that moving back and forth.Moving back and forth almost always creates poor contact and way less coil.

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Instruction

How to eliminate the double cross: Vertical plane, gear effect and impact location

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One of the biggest issues teachers see on the lesson tee is an out-to-in golf swing from a player who is trying to fade the ball, only to look up and see the deadly double cross! This gear effect assisted toe hook is one of the most frustrating things about trying to move the ball from left to right for the right-handed golfer. In this article, I want to show you what this looks like with Trackman and give you a few ways in which you can eliminate this from your game.

Below is the address position of a golfer I teach here in Punta Mita; his handicap ranges between scratch and 2, depending on how much he’s playing, but his miss is a double cross when he’s struggling.

Now let’s examine his impact position:

Observations

  • You see a pull-hooking ball flight
  • The hands are significantly higher at impact than they were at address
  • If you look at the clubhead closely you can see it is wide open post impact due to a toe hit (which we’ll see more of in a second)
  • The face to path is 0.5 which means with a perfectly centered hit, this ball would have moved very slightly from the left to the right
  • However, we see a shot that has a very high negative spin axis -13.7 showing a shot that is moving right to left

Now let’s look at impact location via Trackman:

As we can see here, the impact of the shot above was obviously on the toe and this is the reason why the double-cross occurred. Now the question remains is “why did he hit the ball off of the toe?”

This is what I see from people who swing a touch too much from out-to-in and try to hit fades: a standing up of the body and a lifting of the hands raising the Vertical Swing Plane and Dynamic Lie of the club at impact. From address, let’s assume his lie angle was 45 degrees (for simplicity) and now at impact you can see his Dynamic Lie is 51 degrees. Simply put, he’s standing up the shaft during impact…when this happens you will tend to pull the heel off the ground at impact and this exposes the toe of the club, hence the toe hits and the gear effect toe hook.

Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution? In my opinion it’s a three stage process:

  1. Don’t swing as much from out-to-in so you won’t stand up as much during impact
  2. A better swing plane will help you to remain in your posture and lower the hands a touch more through impact
  3. Move the weights in your driver to promote a slight fade bias

Obviously the key here is to make better swings, but remember to use technology to your advantage and understand why these type of things happen!

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Instruction

Master your takeaway with force and torques

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Most golf swings last less than 2 seconds, so it’s difficult to recover from any errors in the takeaway. Time is obviously limited. What most golfers fail to realize is that the force and torque they apply to the club in the initial stages of the swing can have major effects on how they are able to leverage the club with their arms and wrists.

Our research has shown that it is best to see the golfer as a series of connected links with the most consistent golfers transferring motion smoothly from one link to another and finally to the club. Approximately 19-25 percent of all the energy created in a golf swing actually makes its way into the motion of the club. That means the remaining 75-80 percent is used up in moving the body segments. This emphasizes the fact that a smooth takeaway is your best chance sequence the body links and become more efficient with your energy transfers.

In the video above, I give a very important lesson on how the forces and torques applied by the golfer in the takeaway shape the rest of the swing. There will be more to come on the subject in future articles.

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Instruction

Learn from the Legends: Introduction

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There is a better way to swing the golf club. I’d prefer to write that there is a correct way to swing the club, but I know that really freaks people out. People love to talk about how everyone’s swing is different. “There are lots of ways to get it done,” they say. “Look at Jim Furyk’s swing – it’s not what you’d teach, but it works for him.”

To some extent, they’re right. Elite swings do have different looks. Some take it back inside (Ray Floyd). Some cross the line (Tom Watson). Some swings are long (Bubba Watson). Some are short (young Tiger). But these differences are superficial and largely irrelevant. When it comes to the engine – the core of the swing – the greatest players throughout the history of the game are all very similar.

Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you. In this series of articles, I will do my best to show you – with pictures and videos and data – that the legends all move a specific way. Focusing on these elements (while ignoring others) and practicing a certain way is the surest path to improving your golf swing and lowering your scores.

So, let’s get into it. There are a number of important elements that all the legends have, but the biggest and most important of these elements is rotation. Every great player throughout the history of the game has had elite rotation. It’s the most important thing they do, and it’s easy to see. When you’re looking down the line at all the great players at impact, you’ll see hips and torso open.

This is what the legends look like at impact:

1Hips open
2Torso open
3Both butt cheeks visible
4Left leg extended and visible

And here’s what some very good players with less good rotation look like at impact:

These are very successful players (one of them is a major champion!), but they don’t move like the legends of the game.
1Hips and shoulders not open
2Left leg not totally visible
3Can’t see both butt cheeks

Now, there are plenty of nuances to how great players rotate. They do it while keeping spine flexion, for example, and they do it with very little (or no) lateral movement toward the target (lateral movement impedes rotation). I will discuss these things in detail. My hope is that at the end of this series you will have a much better understanding of what separates the legends from the very good… and from the rest of us.

You will understand their “engine,” and hopefully this understanding will help you begin to create your own legendary swing!

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