The number one thing people want when they come for lessons is consistency. (Tough request!) But, many of the clients who come for lessons have a bad picture of what they think they’re supposed to do. A picture is worth a thousand words. And almost everything we do in life is preceded by a picture. Your pictures need changing!!

We might all agree on 1 thing as teachers: shoulder rotation is a key element in the golf swing. BUT, there’s a problem with the way you’ve pictured that rotation in your past.  I bet you’ve been told to rotate your shoulders and/or rotate your hips? Chances are that the picture you have in your mind looks like image 1, where you’re trying to turn your shoulders horizontal or parallel to the ground. BEWARE!! BAD consequences accompany this image.

Sue Kaffenburgh
Shoulder Goes Around

To get more consistency in your ball striking, you must control the bottom of your swing, where the club hits the ground. Unfortunately, turning your shoulders level to the ground makes it hard to strike the ground after the ball, consistently. Horizontal shoulder turns contribute to excessive movement off the ball, and will make it difficult to keep your head steady and your EYES on the ball. You might hit 1 out of 5 great shots this way, but the other 4 will be thin, fat and vary in distance.

Take a look at image 2. The shoulders have turned more vertically. The key to producing this is to initiate your backswing by making your front shoulder go DOWN, not AROUND. The GOOD consequence of this is you’ll actually get MORE rotation from this movement of your shoulders… No gym work to gain flexibility required! Also, this allows you to stay more centered over the ball, enhancing your ability to hit the ground consistently like the Tour players, on the target side of the ball!

Shoulder Goes Down

Now you have a template for your BACK swing, but, as Gary Player told me, “You don’t hit the ball with your backswing”.  There is 1 more key movement to add that has to do with your DOWN swing. For right handers, just as your left shoulder went down to start your backswing, your RIGHT SHOULDER MUST GO DOWN (not around) in your downswing (image 3).

Shoulder Goes Down in Downswing

You will notice that this produces a tilting of your neck through delivery, allowing your eyes to follow the ball flight. Drill this with half swings and straight arms, where the club goes only waist high on both sides. To build confidence, use a small tee with your 8 iron. Then try it with a wedge and a Driver. Same Movement!! Shoulders moving down producing neck tilt will lift you up!! Literally! More consistency…more distance…more happiness!

Sue Kaffenburgh, PGA/LPGA, 
Bayberry Hills Golf Course, Yarmouth, MA.  508-364-GOLF (4653)