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What bad things can happen with driver when you don't make a full shoulder turn?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

OK so I'm still smarting from a disastrous round last weekend.  I've thought about what went wrong with my driver and I hit some drives on the range at Torrey Pines trying to figure it out.  Progress in understanding was made, or so I think at the moment.


Facts:  in said horrific round (worst in many years), only 2 or 3 fairways were hit, almost all misses being to the right (right hander, medium-to-strong fades, initial trajectory OK) and a couple of pulls.  No push-slices or hooks, which is something at  least.  I knew at the time that I was rushing the swing, which I sometimes do if under pressure (first time playing a difficult course etc etc).  I tried to slow down on the third tee and it helped a bit but not much.


I'm thinking that the main issue was failure to make a FULL turn of the shoulders on the backswing.  It's been a chronic problem esp. with driver (never an issue with short irons I think), my instructor has had me working on it.  I rush the backswing and don't give myself time to make the proper hip bump/turn and don't get into the slot.  Results in a bit of an outside-to-in swing plane I'm thinking. 


What happens with me is, if I make only a 3/4 shoulder turn, I try to compensate by ungripping the club a bit near the top so that the shaft drops further down that it should given the left arm angle - sometimes I even see the clubhead out of my left eye at the very top, a sure sign of the problem.  When I'm hitting consistent, well-controlled drives, I make a fuller shoulder turn and feel that the angle between the driver shaft and my left arm is stable as I get to the top, i.e. it doesn't decrease.  Then I'm not ungripping and regripping, which does nasty things to drive consistency.


1) does this make any sense to all you consistent drivers out there?

2) have others experience this problem, and if so, how did you overcome it?  You'd think it would be fairly easy - just don't let it break down at the top, turn those shoulders more and keep it simple.  Yet I'm still having trouble and it really can mess up a whole round of golf.

3) what other bad things can result from failure to make a full shoulder turn? 


Any and all thoughts appreciated. 

post #2 of 6

Rushing the backswing and losing the grip at the top are great ways to destabilize your swing. It hurts worse on drivers and FWs because of their longer shafts.


A few years ago, I went into a local golf shop on a rainy day and bought some time on the launch monitor to check out my driving. I found that a smooth, full backswing really made a difference: With a swing tempo of 1.8 seconds, I consistently it the ball 15 yards farther than I did with a 1.4 second swing tempo.


Recently I've gone to a stack-n-tilt variety of swing, and I seem to do best if I just let my hands cock naturally at the top, focusing on steady  top position and avoiding "Zorro moves" at the top. That seems to be your problem in Q#2.


As for the 3/4 turn you mentioned.. Many middle HDCP golfers have a longer backswing than they think they do - I know this from my pro's observations, and from checking my top position on the tall mirror at the driving range. What feels like a 3/4 may be all you need, if you have quiet hands and can drop the club into the slot on the downswing.


Over-the-top requires the golfer do do what the pros call a manipulation, in this case compensating with hand and body shifts to regain and get the club back online. End result: it bleeds away direction and power.


At the top, consistent hand position and club angle will probably do more good than "reaching for a little extra." You just have to get the feel of top hand position and go with it. Ask your pro if he thinks this is part of the problem.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

I just played a round in which "full shoulder turn" was my main swing thought. It helped me a lot, esp. with driver which I was seriously missing right (push/fade) in the previous round.  Hit 12/14 fairways this time.


For me at least, rushing the backswing goes along with not making a full shoulder turn. So by extending that turn to about 90 deg I also slow down the backswing and have more time in the transition.  Also, I seem to have better left arm extension when I make a fuller turn, maybe because I'm not trying to force the shaft to a position nearer the horizontal in compensation which cramps my upper body up somehow.  I'm not sure what is going on exactly but these things are all linked and a bigger turn definitely helps all of them.


Does any of this make sense to anybody?


Warning: YMMV

post #4 of 6

My thoughts, from someone who has two common swing faults:  not hinging my wrists (stiff wrists), and not turning completely away from the target.  If I can do these two things, I'll hit all of my clubs well.


If you keep your left (lead) arm straight through the backswing, which is a must for generating power and consistency, then there is really only one good way to get the shaft to parallel at the top:  turn your shoulders, rotating around your spine, until your back faces the target.  If your back isn't facing the target at the top, and your shaft is parallel, then you're doing something that is robbing you of power and consistency (grip is breaking down, arms bent wrapping around the body, etc.).


Nothing says you have to get the club to parallel at the top.  You can generate plenty of power with the clubhead pointed to the sky, so long as you're still rotating on that same axis, your left arm remains straight, and you get a good, solid wrist hinge.


Here's the problem I get into.  If you don't fully rotate your shoulders and spine (or if the arms and hands make it to the top, but you haven't fully rotated), then your hips are going to be way ahead of your club/hands at impact.  This causes the path of the clubhead at impact to be well to the left, causing pulls.  Combine that with the faults that got the club to parallel at the top (loosening the grip or breaking down the left arm).  If arms break down, you're not going to get the clubhead back to square.  Now you've produced a swing that is well outside-to-inside, and your face is open relative to the path.  The ball may start out towards the target, or even slightly left, but is going to slice and have very little power.


If I manage to keep the left arm straight and a good wrist hinge, but don't turn fully, my miss is always left.  Think about what usually happens (even with pros) when you try to hit a 3/4 9i or wedge into a green.

post #5 of 6

I try to think top of left shoulder to the ball. When I rush , its over the top and high floaters way right . I too am using basic stack and tilt .  So with the weight on the left side , its sometimes easy to try to rush everything to get to the way down , since I'm pretty much on the left to begin with .

post #6 of 6

Two things at fault when I'm not hitting woods well. Either less than full turn, or swinging too much with the arms and not enough with the hips.

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