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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.