Stickney: Fixing a common set-up fault among middle-aged golfers
There is one thing for certain when it comes to golf, none of us are getting any younger nor are we becoming more flexible naturally. In fact, it is absolutely amazing to me just how fast you seem to lose the simple things in your swing when you don’t swing the club for some time or pay much attention to the “basics” that you would normally focus on when practicing and playing during more serious times.
As I’ve understood more about my swing, I have reached the point where I hardly hit the ball any different regardless of how long it has been since I last touched a club. At this stage in my life I never practice, play 6-12 times a year, and rarely look at my golf swing on video. However, I was attending a TPI Seminar a few days ago and they wanted some sample videos for “case studies” during the class, so I videoed my swing and sent it in to help with the class.
When the video was put on the screen what I saw standing on the range and swinging was the SAME guy I had taught a million times in the past — but now it was me — a middle-aged guy, in reasonable shape, who had become a weekend player at best in terms of volume of rounds but needed a serious bout of gym work on his “golf muscles!”
It was astounding to me that over the last year or two I had completely lost my ability to hinge my hips properly, retract my scapular bones- pulling my shoulders back at address, and basically set up in a position athletically where I had the any chance to rotate- not lift the club with my arms to the top.
In fact the poor conditioning (caused by an overfocus on cardio) in my world had caused a major fault in my address posture. This issue exacerbated the lifting of my arms and put me in a position where I had no power nor control of the golf ball whatsoever.
To quote the great work of Dr. Greg Rose and David Phillips from The Titleist Performance Institute I was in C-Posture…
“C-Posture occurs when the shoulders and thoracic spine are slumped forward at address and there is a definitive roundness to the back from the tailbone to the back of the neck (looks like the letter “C”). This posture can limit the player’s ability to rotate by dramatically reducing thoracic spine mobility. If the player fails to keep the backswing short, they will find it difficult to maintain posture as they swing the club back. Any excessive rounding of the upper back or thoracic spine in the golf posture is termed a C-Posture. This posture can simply be the result of a poor setup position and can be corrected by physically adjusting the posture to a more neutral spine.”
Let’s take a quick look at my backswing from this C-Posture position that TPI described in my set-up. You can see that as I take the club back the shoulder turn begins to slow and stall while the arms lift the club to the top as a result. From here I have basically put myself into a position where I have compromised myself in the areas of power and control!
So now that I now understood where I stood, what caused this C-Posture? Was it my lack of resistance training, non-existent flexibility work, or just being “lazy” during my set up position? The old me- pre TPI- would have said without a doubt it me just being lazy at address and it would be a simple fix.
However, that was not the case as the seminar progressed as I later found out as Dr. Rose and David Philips continued to reiterate “that the majority of C-Postures are caused by a series of muscle imbalances and joint restrictions that are developed over many years that creep into your game slowly over time and then explode on to the scene “appearing” almost over-night!” Wonderful, my laziness in the gym had finally caught up with me!
UPPER CROSSED SYNDROME The muscle imbalances seen in the graphic below C-Posture illustration are collectively called an Upper Crossed Syndrome. The term, Upper Crossed, was also coined by Dr. Vladimir Janda. Dr. Janda noticed the same pattern of muscle imbalances on so many people that he started calling the pattern an Upper Crossed Syndrome. The most significant joint restriction seen in the C-Posture is the lack of thoracic spine extension (limited backward bend or arching of the upper back). This can make it almost impossible to eliminate the C-Posture. Lack of T-Spine extension can lead to a severe loss of spinal rotation, which in turn, will limit the ability to create a good backswing turn.
Because of my lack of conditioning and improper focus on cardio I had allowed myself to fall into a category of posture that is a direct result of inactivity. I had fallen victim to this UPPER CROSSED SYNDROME.
“This is the most significant joint restriction seen in C-Posture for golfers which is the lack of thoracic spine extension (limited backward bend or arching of the upper back.) This condition and posture can also lead to a severe loss of spinal rotation, which in turn limits the ability to create a good backswing turn. This can be the result of restricted hip hinging, which forces the player to compensate by excessively hinging from the thoracic spine.”
“For many players, simply telling them to stop rounding their shoulders or straightening their spine will not make a significant change and can actually be detrimental to their golf swing. Actually, most of our research shows that if C-Posture is a result of muscle and joint imbalances, the only way to correct the posture for good is to address these limitations in the gym or with a healthcare provider.” (TPI Level 1 Body-Swing Connection)
Now that I we understand what this C-Posture did to my swing and how this C-Posture was caused in my own personal world what am I left to do? Can I fix my swing?
Well, I have two options:
- I can do nothing physiologically but try and set up keeping my posture in mind and see if it improves. (We know it won’t!)
- I can do some work in the gym and work on my mechanics over time to truly eradicate this flaw at the root
What should I do? What option do you thing would be the best way for me to have long-term success? Of course, choosing option number 2, however, golfers continually choose option 1 for not only C-Posture but many other issues that TPI has identified and wonder why their swing never improves.
I’m here to tell you that jumping from teacher to teacher is NOT the answer, it is to follow Greg and Dave’s advice and choose option 2…do it for yourself and the long-term health of your golf swing!
Think about it!
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The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?
I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.
What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.
I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.
Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.
It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.
Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.
The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.
But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.
More from the Wedge Guy
- The Wedge Guy: It’s not all about distance
- The Wedge Guy: Are you really willing to get better at golf?
- The Wedge Guy: Anatomy of a wedge head
Clement: It’s hard to hit the driver badly when you’re doing this
Mu and I go through the swing of the driver in slow motion to show the difference between hitting at the ball and then trying to move it to target versus collecting the ball from the top of the tee and releasing it into the flight plan. Check out the video to learn what this means for your golf swing.
Also: Congrats on Savy getting another personal best of 337 yards at the WLD event in Mesquite!
How to hit a fade…according to YouTube, a robot, and GolfWRX members
How to hit a fade. At some point, if you aren’t a habitual slicer of the golf ball and are able to hit a draw with regularity, in your quest to become a better golfer, you’re going to want to know how to do this.
Without debating the relative merits of a draw versus a fade, it’s agreed that working the golf ball both ways is key to to scoring, positioning off the tee, and risk minimization. If you’re a golfer who is currently only slinging draws, we have some advice for you on how to hit a fade from three very different sources.
How to hit a fade…
…according to a robot (that is, A.I. language model ChatGPT):
A fade is a type of golf shot that curves gently from left to right (for a right-handed golfer). If you want to know how to hit a fade, follow these steps:
- Set up for the shot: Aim your clubface at the target, but align your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly to the left of the target. This open stance will help promote a left-to-right spin on the ball.
- Grip the club: Hold the club normally, but slightly weaken your grip by turning your hands slightly to the left (again, for a right-handed golfer). This will help you hit the ball with an open clubface.
- Swing the club: On your backswing, keep your clubface square to the target for as long as possible. Then, on your downswing, try to swing slightly from the inside to out, which will help produce the left-to-right spin on the ball. Finally, make sure to follow through towards the target with a high finish.
- Practice: Hitting a consistent fade can take some practice. Spend time on the driving range and experiment with different grip and swing adjustments until you find what works best for you.
Remember, hitting a fade is not about hitting the ball harder, it’s about controlling the spin and direction of the ball. With practice, you can learn to hit a reliable fade that can help you navigate tricky golf course layouts.
Hitting a fade takes practice, and it may take some trial and error to find the right adjustments for your swing. It’s also important to note that a fade is not necessarily the ideal shot shape for every situation, so it’s important to be comfortable with hitting a variety of shots on the golf course.
How to hit a fade…according to the most-watched video on YouTube on the subject
With more than one million views on YouTube, this video from Any and Piers of MeAndMyGolf not only covers hitting a fade but also discussing drawing the golf ball as well as hitting it high and low.
…according to GolfWRXers
And of course, our GolfWRX forum members have opinions on the subject.
The appropriately named PreppySlapCut said: “If the face is open to the path, the ball is going to fade. There’s several adjustments you can make to encourage that to happen, it’s just a question of what feels best for you and allows you to do it most consistently.”
Bladehunter says: “For me just the sensation of taking the club back outside your hands , and then swing left with a face square to target , while turning hard as you can makes for a pretty straight flight that won’t hook. Unless you stall and let your hands pass you.”
“That’s my take as an upright swinger If you’re really flat it’s going to be tough to time up and never have the two way miss Because you’re always coming from the inside and will rely on timing the face open or shut to see a fade or draw . For me it’s just set the face at address and feel like you hold it there until impact”
Dpd5031 says: “Had a pro teach me this. Aim a little left, stance slightly open, still hit it from the inside (just like your draw), but unwind chest hard letting handle follow your rotation so toe never passes heel. He called it a “drawy fade.” Ball takes off almost looking like it’s going to draw, but tumbles over to the right instead of left. Cool thing is ya dont give up any distance doing it this way as opposed to cutting across it.”
Scottbox says: “Jon Rahm is a good example. Watch the hand path of his backswing– his hands are not as “deep” as someone who draws the ball (i.e. Rory). And even though he has a slightly shut face, Rahm rotates his chest and hips very hard. Because there’s less depth to his backswing, the club gets more in front of him at P6. He’s most likely 1-2* outside in at last parallel. Brooks Koepka has a longer swing, but similar, in terms of his hand path– well above the shaft plane going up with less depth to his hands at the top, and slightly above the plane coming down.”
“Most good modern players rotate pretty hard with their hips and chest to stabilize the face, but the difference between those who draw it and those who hit a baby cut is often seen in the way they “engineer” their backswing patterns.”
Check out more of the “how to hit a fade” discussion in the forum thread.
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Mar 30, 2022 at 5:44 pm
The fix is to lift weights, stretch, do physical training, strength training, flexibility training, anything and everything to get more strength and mobility to improve your posture, which, in turn, improves your golf swing. He gave the answer, he just didn’t hold your hands in the process. Also, get out of the seat, walk, stop staring down at your phones, there are so many posture-killing things in our lives today.
Mar 19, 2022 at 12:25 pm
OK, so What is the Fix?
Otherwise, its just anecdotal storytelling.
Mar 13, 2022 at 7:49 pm
Tom I think this is a brilliant column. That is, if it were Part One of a 3- or 4-part series.
You have diagnosed yourself seemingly very well. Identified the problem. Decided what needed to be fixed. And then left it there!
What the heck is the fix?
Mar 12, 2022 at 9:23 pm
Too many words without addressing the issue of the C posture correction.