Weight Shift in the Golf Swing

When I begin to work with a new student, I first ask them what they would like to accomplish while taking golf lessons.  One of the most common answers I receive is “I would like to improve my consistency.”  This got me thinking about what is making players so inconsistent.  One of the most common issues affecting consistency is weight shift.  An improper transfer of weight during the golf swing can cause all sorts of problems; it affects direction, distance, and quality of contact.  These are all major factors when it comes to playing more consistent golf.  The simple fact is that it is not impossible to hit a good golf shot with a poor weight shift, a likely reason this is such a common swing flaw.  Another problem with weight shifting is that it is difficult to get your upper and lower bodies to work in unison.  I would like to take a minute to explain why a proper weight shift is critical, show you one of the most common weight shift issues, and give you a drill to help improve your weight shift.

The question I pose to most of my students with this problem, especially those dissatisfied with the distance they hit the golf ball is: “Where are the strongest muscles in your body?”  The answer is obviously the legs/lower body.  Therefore, it seems clear that you should utilize those muscles in your golf swing.  For the right-handed player, this involves loading all of your weight onto your right leg during the backswing and then posting all of that weight, energy, and power onto the left leg during the downswing.  This is very similar to a baseball player making a swing, the difference being that in baseball the batter starts with the weight on his right leg and then takes a stride instead of making a downswing, transferring the weight onto his left.  The same logic applies to both; a successful weight shift produces greater distance and better results.

Let’s take a look at what I believe to be the most common weight shift issue among amateur golfers:

  
For the most part, players grasp the concept of transferring weight on the back swing.  The real issue comes on the downswing.  Far too often, my students do the same thing as the picture above shows and fail to use their lower body as they take the club through the impact zone.  In this case, as in many others, the player loses distance because he is not fully utilizing the muscles in his legs that could generate extra club head speed.  Accuracy is also sacrificed, resulting in a weak shot with left-to-right spin.  The club face is open because the player is actually behind the ball.  Instead of driving through the shot, giving it a penetrating ball flight, he has added loft while also imparting spin on the ball causing it to slice.  This is why so many players slice the golf ball.
Now you may be saying to yourself that your game could really benefit from a proper weight shift.  Well I have a drill for you to practice.  All you need is a club and enough room to swing.  First, take your backswing.  Once you have reached the top of the swing, lift your left leg off the ground.  If you can do this and stay balanced, you have successfully transferred your weight onto your right side.  Next, put your left foot down and perform your downswing.  Now hold your finish and lift your right leg off the ground while staying balanced.  The key to this drill is keeping your balance.  If you can stay balanced, odds are good that you have not swayed during the swing (another common problem I will cover in the future).  Repeat this drill until you feel comfortable with both moves.  Successfully completing this drill will add distance, accuracy, and most importantly, consistency to your game.
Please send me your questions and comments.  Thanks for reading.
Posted in Driver, Fairway Woods, Irons

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