Time To Change The Message – How The Setup Gets It Done – (Part 3)

Posted on by Dave Hill WGCA contributing writer

In the previous article, I discussed how we can accomplish two things: 1) use the legs to turn; 2) remain centered rather than shifting our weight to the right. It may be best to summarize both.

The spine consists of five specific areas:

  • Cervical/neck – Can turn approximately 80 degrees in either direction
  • Thoracic/chest area – Can turn approximately 35 degrees in either direction
  • Lumbar/lower back – Can turn approximately 5 degrees in either direction
  • Sacrum/hips – Fused inside the pelvis/no turning properties
  • Coccyx – Very bottom of spine/fused/no turning properties


The bottom line is that in order to get a full turn, the lower spine must turn, the reason being the thoracic spine and shoulder/arm movement combine for approximately 55-60 degrees of rotation and not 90.  If the lower spine has limited-to-no turning properties, something has to give, and it rests upon the legs in order for the hips to turn. They do so via flexion (bending) and extension (straightening). Forward leg flexes, trail leg extends.

Forever, we have taught weight shift. Weight shift exists, but only during the initiation of the downswing through to the finish. The title of this series, “Time to change the message,” is for a reason…it’s time to change the message! Let’s also not lose the old adage “feel versus real.” Our center of mass (COM) should remain centered between our feet during the backswing. In other words, do not shift the hips/pelvis laterally away from the target during the backswing. Today, we have learned that Sam Snead’s “turn inside the barrel” idea makes complete sense. Sam did not move off the ball, and has actually stated his weight is counterbalanced at the top of the backswing. Snead felt pressure on the heel portion of the trail foot and equal pressure on the ball of the lead foot. Notice the word pressure and not weight.

Additionally, there is no need to move our head away from the target as espoused by many instructors, and none other than Tiger Woods; however not in later years. This resulted in no more stress on his left knee; however, his back issues (not related to not moving off the ball) presently leave the twilight of his career in serious question – an article for another day.

The previous notions certainly don’t adhere to traditional golf instruction of the last few decades. However, evolution of ideas is part of the human condition. The question is, are these really novel ideas? One not need great research skills or an impressive golf teaching pedigree to observe these have been stalwart fundamentals of all great golfers. If there is any doubt, one may simply attempt to complete a full rotation without any change in the starting position of the trailing leg from start to completion of the backswing in regards to flexion (knee bend). It is not physically possible. Additionally, while performing an effective backswing, notice if the bottom of the zipper (crotch area) moves laterally away from the target. This is not something that would appear amongst the majority of the best players in the world throughout every generation. There are always outliers but few.

So, why is all of this important? It’s in order to consistently improve ball/ground contact while creating a respectable amount of length without having to be a gym rat.

Finally, in the previous article of this series, I referenced how the setup can help with developing a proper centered and backswing movement revolving around three keys:

  • Extension
  • Flexion
  • Rotation


As I write, the ideas are flourishing, so I’ll leave on this note: head centered between our heels, alignment of joints and weight favoring leading foot at setup. Yes, you read correctly. We do not want or need a bias of weight toward the rear foot while setting up to the ball with any club or any shot discounting, perhaps an uphill lie.

Part Four – “Connecting the dots.”

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