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Scheinblum: What is a full turn?

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“I am trying to make a full turn.”

“I am trying to complete my back swing.”

I’ve heard these phrases come out of golfer’s mouths for 30 years, and didn’t care to know what they really meant… until I started teaching golf.

Some instructors say golfers should bring the club to parallel with their backswings, and others say that a 90-degree shoulder rotation is best (not to be confused with shoulders turning at a 90-degree angle to the spine). Then there are those who believe golfers should try to “turn their back to the target,” and ones who preach of getting the front shoulder over the back foot.

There are several problems with all of these tips, however, starting with the fact that parallel is a meaningless, arbitrary position that only has value in that it is symmetrical. And most people do not have the flexibility to make a 90-degree shoulder rotation, which again, is another symmetrical, although less arbitrary position. Falstaff would be selling these movements if he taught golf.

Now turning your back to the target seems meritorious, but it can cause a common, yet overlooked problem — the body over rotating and the spine losing its tilt away from the target or even tilting toward the target. I have come to call this reverse tilt, loss of tilt, or rotating out of tilt. It also involves the rear shoulder getting too close to the target.

This should not be confused with a reverse pivot, which usually happens immediately on the takeaway where the weight shifts to the front side, and then shifts to the back side on the downswing — the bane of beginners and very high handicappers. Reverse tilt, which begins fine but ends poorly, is an epidemic among mid to low handicappers, as many of them do it to some extent.

There are in fact people that can and should get the club past parallel and turn their shoulders past 90 degrees. It is almost a direct correlation between flexibility and ability to create speed for those that go to and past these arbitrary positions. Payne Stewart, John Daly and most of your world class long drivers are famous examples.

Daly

Two-time major champion John Daly takes the club well past parallel during his backswing.

So again, the question begs, what is a full turn?

The answer is very individual. The simple answer for most golfers is that the back swing stops as soon as the shoulders reach their maximum rotation. Golfers should take care to make sure that the arms do not continue the swing when the shoulders reach that point of maximum rotation.

The exceptions are for people with the ability to create speed and/or link their arms up to their turn after they have run past. It’s not an ideal movement, and there are a very few who are successful at it, such as Fred Couples. It’s extremely hard to consistently separate the arms from the body during the turn/pivot and make consistent contact.

couples-b

Masters champion Fred Couples has the ability to separate his arms from his turn and still make solid contact consistently.

Most golfers who over run their shoulder turn with their arm swing aren’t as skilled as Couples, which gives them a backswing that is too long. As a result, they can’t generate enough speed with their turn or their arms, so they end up with what I once heard described as, “A Southern Belle limp wristed throw” at the ball. I still don’t know exactly what that means, but it sounded pretty negative to me.

Here’s are true, technical answers to what a full turn really is:

  1. A full turn is created when the shoulders have reached their maximum turn at the proper angle (rotating at an angle perpendicular to the spine at address). This will be 50 degrees for some golfers, and in two-time World Long Drive Champion Jamie Sadlowski’s case, upwards of 120 degrees. Most golfers will be in the 70-to-90 degree range.
  2. A full turn occurs when the arm swing does not continue after the maximum shoulder rotation is achieved.

The above two issues are commonly known throughout the golf world and supported by most instructors. But there’s a third, more important answer, which is often overlooked by instructors.

3. Stay short of the point where the body can no longer sustain spine tilt away from the target. In a face on view, the rear shoulder does not rotate closer to the front foot than the rear foot.

Many high handicappers violate No. 2 and are told by all their friends, internet gurus, instructors, network announcers, their wives, kids, religious leaders, mailman and Pilates instructor. As a direct result of this “arm overrun”, they lose their lag, which for the Rip Van Winkles is the magic angle between the left arm and shaft (for right handed golfers).

I want to make it clear that no holding of the angle, float loading, ringing the bell or Marquis de Sade endorsed training aid is going to allow these golfers to keep their lag when they violate No. 2. They can’t create enough speed to sustain their lag because their overly long backswings just won’t allow it.

Yes, it’s true that a longer swing can create more speed and power for a select few, for most golfers it greatly reduces it. And since quality repetition is what creates good golf, redundancy from an instructor is not a sin and doesn’t put you in the third ring of Inferno. With redundancy being a virtue, I get to follow Beatrice into Paradiso.

The amazing thing is how many low handicappers, single digits and mini-tour level players violate No. 3 and don’t even know it’s a bad thing. Not only can many of them not sustain their lag and speed all the way to the ball because their arms don’t have the room to speed up, violating No. 3 tilts the spine toward the target, steepening the angle of attack. Most often, the body reacts by throwing the lag angle away to shallow out AoA (so a golfer doesn’t dig a grave with an iron or put an idiot mark on top of the driver). What makes it even worse is that experienced and high-level golfers know from a feel perspective they don’t want to hang back to recreate tilt at impact that all good players have with all clubs, so they end up moving the upper body laterally toward the target, exacerbating their problems.

Below are pictures that illustrate this point. Photo 1 is of one of my clients who is a low single digit, next to my “playing swing.”  My client’s right shoulder has rotated all the way over to his front foot and he has not tilted away from the target. At first look, this back swing looks text book as the shoulder turn appears huge, there is no arm overrun and he is not past parallel. However, he has set himself in a place where his angle of attack is going to be too steep and he gradually will lose his lag angle and have no shaft lean at impact — the two main reasons he came to me for help.

Photos 2 and 3 are of my “long drive swing” that at 46 years old, I can still use at times produce club head speeds of more than 130 mph. You will notice how even in my swing that goes well past parallel, I still have spine tilt away from the target and my right shoulder has not gone across the midline of my body. That is a full turn.

Photo 1

 Photos 2 and 3

In the photo below, you will see the real X-factor on the right (not to be confused with the X-factor that caused millions of golfers to restrict their hip turn). My long drive swing with a vertical line from my right shoulder to the ground and one on my spine make a nice X. On the left, you will see a long hitting GolfWRXer who makes a huge turn, but has no X-factor. This is not a thinly veiled attempt to brag.  As I prepare for the Remax World Long Drive Championships in two months, it’s evidence I am trying to practice what I preach.

X-Factor

I’ve also included photos of Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan below. In the photo, Tiger is working on a centered pivot, and you can see that Hogan went past parallel. But neither Tiger nor Hogan rotated the right shoulder past their mid-line, and both sustained their tilt away from the target in the backswing.  They both have real X-factor.

TigerHogan

So if you want to achieve your maximum power and efficiency — and for the lagists, maximum lag — you need to figure out what your full turn is. For nearly all of you, it is going to be a shorter swing that “feels powerless.”

Put a shaft across your chest and hold it cross-armed with the club head on the side of your back shoulder and stand in front of a mirror in a golf posture. Stretch to your maximum turn where your spine is still tilted away from the target and that clubhead is still closer to your back foot than your front foot. Now take the club, grip it and extend your hands away from your chest.

The key is not getting the front shoulder over the back foot — it’s getting a maximum turn while keeping the back shoulder over the back foot, or at least not across the middle of the stance. That is what sustains the tilt away from the target, gives your arms room to accelerate, produces the optimal angle of attack … and wait for it … sustains maximum lag and shaft lean through impact.

That is a full turn. For most of you, it will be a lot shorter than what you do.

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Monte Scheinblum is a former World Long Drive Champion and Web.com Tour player. For more insights and details on this article, as well as further instruction from Monte go to rebelliongolf.com

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. garcinia cambogia extract

    Dec 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    We enjoy your site, hope you really don’t head that we shared
    it on fb

  2. mega

    Oct 1, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    This is exactly what I am working on with my instructor. In fact, everything else we have worked on has come fairly easy, this is not coming easy as I keep over swinging.

  3. Jdish

    Sep 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Possibly the best thing I’ve ever read about the golf swing. Seriously

  4. Pingback: It bears reading again | Monte Scheinblum's Blog

  5. ???????????

    Aug 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    ??????

  6. Dan

    Aug 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    love the article. I will try to put these tips into my practice immediately

  7. Brian

    Aug 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    You couldn’t be more wrong about some people having 50 degrees of shoulder turn while Sadlowski having 120 degrees or so. In grad school we measured anatomical rotation of the spine on all the golfers, gymnasts, and baseball players. while restricting the hips to get an accurate measurement of only spinal rotation (aka shoulder rotation, shoulder turn, etc.) from L5-T1 (17 vertebra in total) the highest total amount of rotation was 48 degrees and that was by 2 gymnasts. The golfers and baseball players on average had 42 degrees with the highest in both sports being 46 degrees. There are countless studies out there that back up this data and healthsouth did a study years ago in the same thing on the pga tour. It is anatomically IMPOSSIBLE without shatter the spine to turn 120 degrees.

    • RM

      Aug 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      I think the key in your response is “while restricting the hips to get an accurate measurement of only spinal rotation”. I don’t believe he is referring to the spinal rotation, but instead the shoulder rotation in relation to the feet. The rotation in the hips and knees would account for the rest, from what I would guess.

  8. Greg

    Aug 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Makes sense, I read the whole thing and I completely agree. Ive thought of this myself, and it makes sense that if you get reverse spine tilt towards the target it will cause you to have to release early to square the club up. And I agree the divot will tell you a lot, if you don’t release early to create a shallower impact you’ll dig way to much.

  9. Paddy

    Aug 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Hey Monte,

    Good stuff. Any articles/tips on ensuring that the arm swing doesn’t go “past” the full shoulder turn?

    Thanks,
    P

  10. ANDREW

    Aug 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Great read, that was well done.

  11. Andreas

    Aug 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Absolutely spot on, excellent article. This is the kind of advice you WONT get if you go to the ‘brand name’ instructors. Well done Monte

  12. Richard

    Aug 1, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Tom, I have the same feeling. One thing is to hit balls in the driving range and other is to play. But I’m feeling that this really works. Monte is right, we amateurs do not have enough skills to turn and separate arms as pros do. But other important thing is that you have to get away from the temptation to compensate the “short backswing” swinging hard the hands and arms in the downswing. Just drop them and let the club do the job. Monte, please correct me if I’m wrong!

  13. Tom

    Aug 1, 2013 at 5:42 am

    So this is why my 3/4 swing is more accurate and repeatable than my “full swing” and gains just as much distance? Now, if I can just talk myself away from the thought of, ” some is good, so more must be better!”

    Great article Monte…thanks!
    Tom McNamara

  14. BigBoy

    Jul 31, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    brilliant article.

  15. Derrick Brent

    Jul 31, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Great article Monte. Preach, Rev. Monte — preach!

  16. Richard

    Jul 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I’m 54 and play golf since I was 12. It’s amazing how my top swing is short. I was a little disapointed, but hitting some balls evthing felt different. My question is if this repeatable in the course without feeling powerless.

    • Rob

      Jul 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Richard –

      This very issue was causing 99% of my ball striking problems; keeping the arms going after my shoulder turn stopped. It has taken many months to get it in my head that what I perceive as a “short back swing”, when viewed on video, is actually quite long, and the result is a powerful strike generally in the center of the face.

      I feel your concern wondering whether on not one can convince themselves that what feels like a pitch shot back swing really will launch the ball that 185 yards you need on this shot.

      My best advise: Practice it on the range, then trust it on the course!

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Jul 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Once you get used to the new feel…FAR more repeatable than over rotating.

  17. Pingback: Proof the golfing public has been brainwashed | Monte Scheinblum's Blog

  18. mike

    Jul 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    hey monte, im having the same problem as your client in the first photo, where my right shoulder rotates to over to my front foot. What are some ways to fix this?

    • Cyd

      Jul 31, 2013 at 11:36 am

      From the Article

      “you need to figure out what your full turn is. For nearly all of you, it is going to be a shorter swing that “feels powerless.”

      Put a shaft across your chest and hold it cross-armed with the club head on the side of your back shoulder and stand in front of a mirror in a golf posture. Stretch to your maximum turn where your spine is still tilted away from the target and that clubhead is still closer to your back foot than your front foot. Now take the club, grip it and extend your hands away from your chest.”

      Do this over and over. Practice it so you know the feel. Then practice getting to this position while performing the back swing in front of a mirror. Do it over and over and over and over again. Drill it home!

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Jul 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      What cyd said was helpful.

      Also, hitting 1/2 wedges where you get a sense your right shoulder is over your right foot.

  19. Rob

    Jul 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Great article Monte! Very informative. Thanks!

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Instruction

How the Trail Arm Should Work In Backswing

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Stop getting stuck! In this video, I demonstrate a great drill to help you move your trail arm correctly in the backswing.

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Self-discovery: Why golf lessons aren’t helping you improve

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Of all the things I teach or have taught in golf, I think this is the most important: It’s not what we cover in a lesson, it’s what you discover. 

Some years ago, I had a student in golf school for a few days. She was topping every single shot. Zero were airborne. I explained that she was opening her body and moving forward before her arms and club were coming down. “Late” we call it. I had her feel like her arms were coming down first and her body was staying behind, a common correction for late tops. Bingo! Every ball went up into the air. She was ecstatic.

Some time later, she called and said she was topping every shot. She scheduled a lesson. She topped every shot. I asked her why she was topping the ball. “I think I’m picking up my head,” she said to my look of utter disbelief!

I had another student who was shanking the ball. At least 3 out of 5 came off the hosel with his wedges. I explained that his golf club was pointed seriously left at the top of his backswing. It was positioned well OUTSIDE his hands, which caused it to come down too wide and swing OUTSIDE his hands into impact. This is a really common cause of shanking. We were able to get the club more down the line at the top and come down a bit narrower and more inside the ball. No shanks… not a one!  He called me sometime later. The shanks had returned. You get the rest. When I asked what was causing him to shank, he told me “I get too quick.”

If you are hitting the golf ball better during a golf lesson, you have proven to yourself that you CAN do it. But what comes after the lesson is out of a teacher’s hands. It’s as simple as that. I cannot control what you do after you leave my lesson tee. Now, if you are NOT hitting the ball better during a lesson or don’t understand why you’re not hitting it better, I will take the blame. And…you do not have to compensate me for my time. That is the extent to which I’ll go to display my commitment and accept my responsibility. What we as teachers ask is the same level of commitment from the learners.

Improving at golf is a two-way street. My way is making the correct diagnosis and offering you a personalized correction, possibly several of them. Pick the ONE that works for you. What is your way on the street? Well, here are a few thoughts on that:

  • If you are taking a lesson at 10 a.m. with a tee time at 11 a.m. and you’re playing a $20 Nassau with your buddies, you pretty much wasted your time and money.
  • If the only time you hit balls is to warm up for your round, you have to be realistic about your results.
  • If you are expecting 250-yard drives with an 85 mph club head speed, well… let’s get real.
  • If you “fake it” during a lesson, you’re not going to realize any lasting improvement. When the teacher asks if you understand or can feel what’s being explained and you say yes when in fact you DO NOT understand, you’re giving misleading feedback and hurting only yourself. Speak up!

Here’s a piece of advise I have NEVER seen fail. If you don’t get it during the lesson, there is no chance you’ll get it later. It’s not enough to just hit it better; you have to fully understand WHY you hit it better. Or if you miss, WHY you missed.

I have a rule I follow when conducting a golf lesson. After I explain the diagnosis and offer the correction, I’ll usually get some better results. So I continue to offer that advice swing after swing. But at some point in the lesson, I say NOTHING. Typically, before long the old ball flight returns and I wait– THREE SWINGS. If the student was a slicer and slices THREE IN A ROW, then it’s time for me to step in again. I have to allow for self discovery at some point. You have to wean yourself off my guidance and internalize the corrections. You have to FEEL IT.

When you can say, “If the ball did this then I know I did that” you are likely getting it. There is always an individual cause and effect you need to understand in order to go off by yourself and continue self improvement. If you hit a better shot but do not know why, please tell your teacher. What did I do? That way you’re playing to learn, not simply learning to play.

A golf lesson is a guidance, not an hour of how to do this or that. The teacher is trying to get you to discover what YOU need to feel to get more desirable outcomes. If all you’re getting out of it is “how,” you are not likely to stay “fixed.” Remember this: It’s not what we cover in the lesson; it’s what you discover!

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Instruction

Jumping for Distance (Part 2): The One-Foot Jump

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In Part 1, I wrote about how I think this concept of jumping up with both feet for more power may have come about in part due to misinterpretation of still photography and force plate data, self-propagation, and a possible case of correlation vs causation. I also covered reasoning why these players are often airborne, and that can be from flawed setups that include overly wide stances and/or lead foot positions that are too closed at setup or a re-planted lead foot that ends up too closed during the downswing.

In Part 2, let’s look at what I feel is a better alternative, the one foot jump. To me, it’s safer, it doesn’t complicate ball striking as much, and it can still generate huge amounts of vertical ground force.

First, set up with an appropriate stance width. I like to determine how wide to stand based on the length of your lower legs. If you go to your finish position and stand on your lead leg and let your trail leg dangle down so your knees are parallel, your lower trail leg should extend only as far back as it will go while being up on the tip of your trail toe. If you roll that trail foot back down to the ground, viola, you’ll have a stance width that’s wide enough to be “athletic” and stable but not so wide you lose balance when swinging. You can go a little wider than this, but not much.

To contrast, the stance below would be too wide.

Jumping off the ground can be caused by too wide of a stance and lead foot position that is too closed at setup

Second, make sure your lead foot is open sufficiently at address. I’ve previously outlined how to do both these first two points in this article.

Third, whether you shift your weight to your trail foot or keep a more centered weight type feeling in the backswing, when you shift your weight to your lead foot, be careful of the Bubba replant, and then push up with that lead leg to push your lead shoulder up. This is the one-foot “jump” and it will take advantage of parametric acceleration (read more about that here).

But also at the same time, shift your lower spine towards the target.

From a face-on viewpoint, this can look like back bend, but in 3D space it’s side bend. It kind of feels like you are crunching the trail side of your mid-section, or maybe just bending over to the side to pick up a suitcase, for example. This move helps lower your trail shoulder, which brings down the club (whereas this is more difficult to do if you try to two-foot jump with your trail leg). It also helps you to keep from getting airborne off your lead foot. Further it doesn’t change your low point (by not changing the relative position of the C7 vertebrae in its general orb in space) and complicate ball striking like a two-foot jump does.

At this point, the club releases and you can stand up out of the shot (you don’t need to transition in to any sort of dangerous back bend) in balance on your lead foot having generates tons of vertical ground force without having jumped off the ground or putting yourself at risk for injury.

“Movember” mustache… not required!

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