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Keep Your Eye Line Parallel to the Target Line

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It makes me incredulous that this topic is never talked about. I say never in the context that I have never seen anyone as good looking or smooth with the ladies as myself, but I know this mythical figure probably exists.

Apple fights in the monkey cage at the zoo are conducted with more civility than debates over inconsequential topics like how much forearm rotation Hogan had between P6 and P8, yet an extremely important and fundamental topic like eye line gets no play at all.

I will start with a question. What would you think about basketball players shooting free throws with their eyes tilted 45 degrees from the rim? Now, this might have been the cure for Shaquille O’Neal’s woes, but for most, it would be a complete disaster.

How many bad guys would a CIA sniper take out if his scope was not mounted parallel to the gun barrel?

One could say both of these questions seem rhetorical to the point of being ridiculous. I agree, so why then do hoards of golfers tilt their eye line as much as 45 degrees off the target line with barely a mention anywhere, or by anyone?

It boggles the mind in the same sense as why you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway.

Kenny-600x450

Kenny Perry

  • Bobby Jones, who “over rotated.”
  • Jack Nicklaus who tilted his head away from the target to trigger his back swing.
  • John Daly whose back swing scoffs at convention.
  • The mighty Monte Scheinblum, who won a world long drive title without enough muscle to bench press a sleeve of golf balls.
Monte-600x450

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All of them kept their eye line parallel to the target line.

Even Kenny Perry, who lifts and basically turns his his entire back perpendicular to the target line, barely shifts his eye line a few degrees right and he is the extreme.

I see eye lines all day long that start as much as 45 degrees to the right. I can hear the minions of the morass saying, “So what?”

To put it simply, the arms and the turn of the body will follow where the eyes are looking and swing the club there. Without getting into a dissertation about all of the swing faults a poor eye line causes, let’s just look at two simple, common and easy to understand ones.

  1. The head starts tilted, so the right ear (right-handed golfer) is tilted too far toward the right shoulder. Guess what? The arms follow that line too far to the inside on the back swing. That tilt of the head makes it awkward to properly shift into left side, so the arms reroute over the top. Well folks, your two choices in that pattern are a slice, or your friends are going to make you feel like you are skeet shooting. “PUUUUUUULL!!!!!!!”
  2. The head and eye line start OK, but the head tilts to the right at the top of the swing because the golfer is trying to make a “full turn.” Assuming the body shifts and turns in the transition properly, the arms get trapped inside trying to follow the eye line. They fly out away from the body, the body stalls and the hands flip. Captain Hook.

This issue is extremely easy to fix and always pays immediate dividends. Put an alignment stick just outside the ball as a frame of reference. Get setup and put the club shaft you are holding on the bridge of your nose across your eyes and see where you are. If need be, change your head position until your eyes are parallel to that alignment stick. When you swing, make sure your eyes stay parallel to that stick. Have a friend help you out if need be.

I have yet to see one person who didn’t improve the path of their arm swing (on both the back swing and downswing) the very first time they fixed their head and eye line position.

For all those wanting to tell me sob stories about being old or inflexible: your back swing is too long. Shorten it and fix you eye line.

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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

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Milhouse

    May 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I totally disagree!

    Your neck does not have 180 degrees of range of motion. To put it another way, you cannot simply turn your head far enough to get your chin over your shoulder. You’ll be 15-20 degree short of this.

    So if you consider a full shoulder turn is important (which I think is a misnomer in the golf community since your “shoulders” do not move really, it’s your rib cage and torso that needs to turn 90 degrees, but I digress), then your head and eyes won’t be able to stay parallel to the target line. You’ll either turn your chest only 75-80 degrees in trying to keep your eye line parallel to your target line, or your eyeline, using your pencil on bridge of nose idea, will have to aim 20 or so degrees out to the right for your chest to have cleared out of the way and made a full 90 degree turn.

    I completely disagree with your premise and would argue that trying to keep your eyeline as you have defined it as being on a vertical plane parallel to the target line, would be MORE likely to cause a golfer to come over the top. In trying to keep the eyes parallel, a golfer is more likely to end up with his head ahead of the ball or at least on top of it. This will result in a swing path from out to in, across the ball.

    Taking the club back to the inside is an issue of trying to wind up around the body and hit the ball, not of the eyeline. Aim your sight line 45 degrees to right if you want – you can STILL take the club back on plane. But the causality you suggest is just incorrect and the sports analogies you make don’t parallel the point either.

  2. Jay

    May 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I would really like to understand this concept. Do you have any pictures or videos to illustrate this? I know, especially on the driver, I tilt my spine (reverse K), tilting my head and my eye line away from parallel. Do I tilt my spine then tilt my head up straight again to keep my eyeline parallel? Please help. Thanks.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      May 14, 2013 at 11:07 am

      It doesn’t matter if you tilt your spine for a reverse K. The eyeline is still going to be down the target line if you do it correctly. It will just be pointed more toward the sky, but still on the same vertical plane.

      Lets say you had a pencil on the bridge of your nose with the eraser pointed down the target line. If you tilted your head away like Nicklaus, the eraser would point more toward ground and a Reverse K, the eraser would be pointed more toward sky, but still down target line and not well out to the right.

  3. STICKS

    May 10, 2013 at 1:38 am

    i dont understand fully and i realy want to

  4. STEVE ALMO

    May 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Excellent Monte! …AND ALIGNMENT TO TARGET!

  5. Steve Pratt

    May 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Good stuff, Monte!

  6. geoff duncan

    May 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Great advice. I just hit a bucket and it works.

  7. John Kelly

    May 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    great advice. will take it to my next tournament!

  8. John Forster

    May 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Great article. I had never thought about my eyeline.

  9. Pingback: Latest GolfWrx article. | Monte Scheinblum's Blog

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Instruction

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 2)

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Golf is very much a monkey-see-monkey-do sport. If you ever go to the local range, you are sure to see golfers trying to copy the moves of their favorite player. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. While I understand the logic of trying to mimic the “secret move” of the most recent winner on tour, I always balk when the person trying to create their best impression fails to realize the physical differences between them and the best golfing athletes in the world.

Read part 1 here. 

In addition to most golfers not being at the same fitness levels as the best players in the world, they also do not have bodies that are identical to their favorite player. This single statement proves why there is not one golf swing; we all are different sizes and are going to swing the club differently due to these physical differences.

You have to understand your swing

The biggest reason I believe that golfers are better than they think is most golfers I meet do not understand what their swings should look like. Armed with video after video of their golf swing, I will always hear about the one thing that the golfer wishes they could change. However, that one thing is generally the “glue” or athleticism of the athlete on display and is also the thing that allows them to make decent contact with the ball.

We are just coming out of the “video age” of golf instruction, and while I think that recording your golf swing can be extremely helpful, I think that it is important to understand what you are looking for in your swing. As a young coach, I fell victim to trying to create “pretty swings”, but quickly learned that there is not a trophy for prettiest swing.

It comes down to form or function, and I choose function

The greatest gift I have ever received as an instructor was the recommendation to investigate Mike Adams and BioSwing Dynamics. Mike, E.A. Tischler, and Terry Rowles have done extensive research both with tour-level players as well as club golfers and have developed a way to test or screen each athlete to determine not only how their golf swing will look, but also how they will use the ground to create their maximum speed. This screen can be completed with a tape measure and takes about five minutes, and I have never seen results like I have since I began measuring.

For example, a golfer with a greater wingspan than height will have a golf swing that tracks more to the outside during the backswing and intersects the body more towards the trail shoulder plane during the backswing. A golfer with a shorter wingspan than height will have a swing that tracks more to the inside and intersects the body closer to the trail hip plane. Also, a golfer with a greater wingspan than height will have a more upright dynamic posture than a golfer with a shorter wingspan than height who will be more “bent over” at the address position.

Sport coats and golf swings

Have you ever bought a sport coat or suit for a special occasion? If so, pay attention to whether it is a short, regular, or long. If you buy a long, then it means that your arms are longer than your torso and you can now understand why you produce a “steeper” backswing. Also, if you stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your middle-finger tips touching the top of your kneecaps, you will have perfect dynamic posture that matches your anatomy. If it appears that you are in a taller posture, then you have your second clue that your wingspan is greater than your height.

Translation to improvement

Using this and five other screens, we can help the athletes understand a complete blueprint of their golf swing based off their anatomy. It is due to the work of Mike, E.A., and Terry that we can now matchup the player to their swing and help them play their best. The reason that I believe that most golfers are better than they think is that most golfers have most of the correct puzzle pieces already. By screening each athlete, we can make the one or two adjustments to get the player back to trusting their swing and feeling in control. More importantly, the athlete can revisit their screen sheet when things misfire and focus on what they need to do, instead of what not to do.

We are all different and all have different swings. There is no one way to swing a golf club because there is no one kind of golfer. I encourage every golfer to make their swing because it is the only one that fits.

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Instruction

How golf should be learned

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With the COVID-19 pandemic, golf is more popular than ever. Beginners being introduced to the game often find that golf is very hard, much harder than other sports they have played. To simplify the golf swing and make the game easier, it needs to start with a concept.

Golf should first be learned from a horizontal position. If the ball was placed four feet above the ground on a large tee, players would naturally turn in an efficient direction with the proper sequence to strike the ball on the tee.

Take for example, a person throwing a ball towards a target. With their eyes out in front of them? having an awareness to the target, their body would naturally turn in a direction to go forward and around towards the target. In golf, we are bent over from the hips, and we are playing from the side of the golf ball, so players tend to tilt their body or over-rotate, causing an inefficient backswing.

This is why the golf swing should be looked at as a throwing motion. The trail arm folds up as the body coils around. To throw a ball further, the motion doesn’t require more body turn or a tilt of the body.

To get the feeling of this horizontal hitting position or throwing motion, start by taking your golf posture. Make sure your trail elbow is bent and tucked with your trail shoulder below your lead shoulder.

From here, simply lift your arms in front of you while you maintain the bend from your hips. Look over your lead shoulder looking at the target. Get the clubhead traveling first and swing your arms around you. Note how your body coils. Return the club back to its original position.

After a few repetitions, simply lower your arms back to the ball position, swing your arms around you like you did from the horizontal position. Allow your shoulders, chest and hips to be slightly pulled around. This is now your “throwing position” in the golf swing. From here, you are ready to make a downswing with less movement needed to make a proper strike.

Note: Another great drill to get the feel for this motion is practicing Hitting driver off your knees.

Twitter: @KKelley_golf

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Instruction

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 1)

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Golf is hard. I spend my career helping people learn that truth, but golfers are better than they give themselves credit for.

As a golf performance specialist, I give a lot of “first time working together” lessons, and most of them start the same way. I hear about all the ways the golfer is cursed and how s/he is never going to “get it” and how s/he should take up another sport. Granted, the last statement generally applies to an 18-plus handicap player, but I hear lots of negatives from better players as well.

Even though the golfers make convincing arguments for why they are cursed, I know the truth. It’s my job to help them realize the fates aren’t conspiring against them.

All golfers can play well consistently

I know this is a bold statement, but I believe this because I know that “well” does not equate to trophies and personal bests. Playing “well” equates to understanding your margin of error and learning to live within it.

With this said, I have arrived at my first point of proving why golfers are not cursed or bad golfers: They typically do not know what “good” looks like.

What does “good” look like from 150 yards out to a center pin?

Depending on your skill level, the answer can change a lot. I frequently ask golfers this same question when selecting a shot on the golf course during a coaching session and am always surprised at the response. I find that most golfers tend to either have a target that is way too vague or a target that is much too small.

The PGA Tour average proximity to the hole from 150 yards is roughly 30 feet. The reason I mention this statistic is that it gives us a frame of reference. The best players in the world are equivalent to a +4 or better handicap. With that said, a 15-handicap player hitting it to 30 feet from the pin from 150 yards out sounds like a good shot to me.

I always encourage golfers to understand the statistics from the PGA Tour not because that should be our benchmark, but because we need to realize that often our expectations are way out of line with our current skill level. I have found that golfers attempting to hold themselves to unrealistic standards tend to perform worse due to the constant feeling of “failing” they create when they do not hit every fairway and green.

Jim Furyk, while playing a limited PGA Tour schedule, was the most accurate driver of the golf ball during the 2020 season on the PGA Tour hitting 73.96 percent of his fairways (roughly 10/14 per round) and ranked T-136 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. Bryson Dechambeau hit the fairway 58.45 percent (roughly 8/14 per round) of the time and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

There are two key takeaways in this comparison

Sometimes the fairway is not the best place to play an approach shot from. Even the best drivers of the golf ball miss fairways.

By using statistics to help athletes gain a better understanding of what “good” looks like, I am able to help them play better golf by being aware that “good” is not always in the middle of the fairway or finishing next to the hole.

Golf is hard. Setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is only going to stunt your development as a player. We all know the guy who plays the “tips” or purchases a set of forged blades applying the logic that it will make them better in the long run—how does that story normally end?

Take action

If you are interested in applying some statistics to your golf game, there are a ton of great apps that you can download and use. Also, if you are like me and were unable to pass Math 104 in four attempts and would like to do some reading up on the math behind these statistics, I highly recommend the book by Mark Broadie Every Shot Counts. If you begin to keep statistics and would like how to put them into action and design better strategies for the golf course, then I highly recommend the Decade system designed by Scott Fawcett.

You may not be living up to your expectations on the golf course, but that does not make you a bad or cursed golfer. Human beings are very inconsistent by design, which makes a sport that requires absolute precision exceedingly difficult.

It has been said before: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” It’s time we finally accept that fact and learn to live within our variance.

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