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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

25 Comments

25 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.

    • larrybud

      Aug 19, 2021 at 3:24 pm

      Monte doesn’t advocate restricting the hips, and in fact, he mentions that hip restriction is one of the flaws he sees the most in players coming to him.

  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

Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)

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In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?

I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:

“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below.  I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time.  I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135.  My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards.  No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances.  It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away.  What am I doing wrong?

Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:

Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.

Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.

Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.

Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?

Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.

So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.

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Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill

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When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!

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Wedge Guy: The top 7 short game mistakes

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I’ve written hundreds of articles as “The Wedge Guy” and I’ve made it my life’s work to closely observe golfers and their short games. So, I thought I’d compile what I see into a list of what I believe are the most common mistakes golfers make around the greens that prevents them from optimizing their scoring. So here goes, not in any particular order:

  1. Tempo. Maybe the most common error I see is a tempo that is too quick and “jabby”. That probably comes from the misunderstood and overdone advice “accelerate through the ball.” I like to compare playing a golf hole to painting a room, and your short shots are your “trim brushes”. They determine how the finished work turns out, and a slower and more deliberate stroke delivers more precision as you get closer to the green and hole.
  2. Set Up/Posture. To hit good chips and pitches, you need to “get down”. Bend your knees a bit more and grip down on the club – it puts you closer to your work for better precision. Too many golfers I see stand up too tall and grip the club to the end.
  3. Grip Pressure. A very light grip on the club is essential to good touch and a proper release through the impact zone. Trust me, you cannot hold a golf club too lightly – your body won’t let you. Concentrate on your forearms; if you can feel any tenseness in the muscles in your forearms, you are holding on too tightly.
  4. Hand position. Watch the tour players hit short shots on TV. Their arms are hanging naturally so that their hands are very close to their upper thighs at address and through impact, but the club is not tilted up on its toe. Copy that and your short game will improve dramatically.
  5. Lack of Body/Core Rotation. When you are hitting short shots, the hands and arms have stay in front of the torso throughout the swing. If you don’t rotate your chest and shoulders back and through, you won’t develop good consistency in distance or contact.
  6. Club selection. Every pitch or chip is different, so don’t try to hit them all with the same club. I see two major errors here. Some golfers always grab the sand wedge when they miss a green. If you have lots of green to work with and don’t need that loft, a PW, 9-iron or even less will give you much better results. The other error is seen in those golfers who are “afraid” of their wedge and are trying to hit tough recoveries with 8- and 9-irons. That doesn’t work either. Go to your practice green and see what happens with different clubs, then take that knowledge to the course.
  7. Clubhead/grip relationship. This error falls into two categories. One is those golfers who forward press so much that they dramatically change the loft of the club. At address and impact the grip should be slightly ahead of the clubhead. I like to focus on the hands, rather than the club, and just think of my left hand leading my right through impact. Which brings me to the other error – allowing the clubhead to pass the hands through impact. If you let the clubhead do that, good shots just cannot happen. And that is caused by you trying to “hit” up on the ball, rather than swinging the entire club through impact.

So, there are my top 7. Obviously, there are others, but if you eliminate those, your short game will get better in a hurry.

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