Golf is a game of circles, right? The ball is round, the cup is round, the golf swing is somewhat round. So what’s all this business about having a straight spine angle? How does that have anything to do with making successful contact?
First of all, it’s critical to understand spine angle before you can take advantage of it. When referring to spine angle, it doesn’t mean how the back is bent from side to side or how hunched over you are. Instead, spine angle is about the angle your spine holds relative to the ground. If you’re standing straight up, your spine is approximately 90-degrees relative to the ground. If you address the golf ball, the angle of your spine lessens, and depending on your body type, height and swing type, your spine angle may be completely unique to you.
Now, where many amateurs make their mistake is, during the swing, they lose the needed spine angle and often resort to an impact position that looks more like a standing position than an athletic one. By having an upright spine angle at impact (or virtually anywhere in the swing), the body loses power, torque and most likely, rotational momentum. In other words, lifting the spine to an upright position during the swing is the cheap way out of forcing the lower body to stay flexed in order to make solid contact with the ball.
Are you with me so far? Next time you watch golf on TV, make sure you TiVo it and go back in slow-mo and catch the freeze frames of every player you can at impact. You won’t see a single player with an upright spine.
Now that you know what spine angle is, here’s how it can help you. Maintaining a proper spine angle means maintaining an athletic and flexed position throughout the swing. By doing that, more power can be released through the ball. Better yet, by holding your spine angle, you’re more likely to swing on plane—a key ingredient to more consistent golf shots. Lastly, maintaining some degree of spine angle takes pressure off your lower vertebrae—a common place for injury among amateurs and professionals alike.
Craig Sasada, PGA, is Director of Golf at the beautiful Poipu Bay Golf Resort on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. For more on the resort, as well as all of Kauai, visit kauaidiscovery.com and poipubay.com.