By Brad Ott
EIGHTY to ninety percent of golf instructors have said that your posture at address dictates the full swing. That’s interesting, given that the swing hasn’t even started yet. So what’s up with the emphasis on address posture?
One important view of golf posture is seen looking “down the target line”, meaning from behind your backswing side. Instructors look to see the shape of your spine, amount of bend in the hips and knees, and whether the appearance is “athletic”. There are three common postures, of which two are less than ideal; C-shape, S-shape, and neutral. These postures mirror postural habits you have in everyday life.
Note the posture of today’s pros on television. They have extremely athletic posture with a straight spine leaning forward comfortably from hips that are hinged. This is the ‘neutral posture’. This position allows a maximum shoulder turn while storing energy in the core and hips that will be utilized during the transition move in to impact.
Golfers with a rounded back are categorized as C-shape, similar to slouching while sitting on a barstool. Spine biomechanics dictate the amount of flexibility to make a shoulder turn, and this rounded posture completely restricts your rotation. Following this golfer to their workplace we would likely see this same slouching pattern throughout the day. Why would they ever address a golf ball any different than what they have habituated all day long?
S-shape golfers have rounded upper backs, but in the lower back have excessive inward curves, thus the “S” shape. This inward arch is called anterior pelvic tilt. They may have previously been a C-shape posture, but someone told them to “stick their bottom out”, inadvertently creating the excess curve. They often have significant low back tension, if not pain. They haven’t even taken the club away and they are in the dreaded “reverse-C” posture.
Golfers serious about improving their game need to have better golf posture, and better posture with daily life. Every person is different but some of the underlying physical causes for the poor posture at address include the following:
C-shape posture: excessive slouching and forward head throughout the day; tight chest muscles in the front and weak upper back and shoulder blade muscles in the back; poor awareness of the hips and core. Associated swing flaws may include swaying, reverse pivoting, rising up out of posture at address, and others.
S-shape posture: tight hip flexors, weak lower abdominals, and weak gluteals allowing the pelvis to tip forward and low back to arch; poor flexibility in the mid-back similar to the C-shaped golfer but has learned to compensate with the lower back.
Neutral-shape posture: these golfers have far fewer postural imbalances they are fighting, and they get to athletic postures with little tension or strain in their bodies. They are able to maintain consistent axes of rotation and recruit the “large muscles”, all leading to consistency.
Have a friend take a photo of your golf posture. You may be surprised at what you see. Remember, your body is your most important piece of golf equipment.
Brad Ott has a Masters in Physical Therapy and has wide experience in sports fitness, including working with golfers on the PGA and Web.com Tours and with Olympic Trial athletes.
He is President of Rebound Sports & Physical Therapy in the US.
More by Brad Ott:
Balance is key to good Golf