Stack & Tilt Revisited

What you don't know about our system will change the way you look at the golf swing

 

Stack & Tilt-teachersMike Bennet (left) and Andy Plummer (right).

Editor's Note: When this story ran in Golf Tips magazine back in 2010, the stack & tilt phenomenon was in full flight, with PGA Tour pros like Mike Weir and Aaron Baddeley singing its praises. While both of those players have pretty much faded from the scene, the fundamentals of Stack and Tilt still remain in many teachers' arsenals, and some prominent players from the past, including “Mr. 59” Al Geiberger, swear by its tenets. It's just known by other names these days.

“I have picked up on this system that has a funny name. Stack & tilt,” Geiberger told Golf Tips in April 2017 during the Haggin Oaks Golf Expo in Sacramento, California. “All the good things all the good players do, they [teachers Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer] have condensed into their book. Throw all of your other books away, including mine. And if you don’t like to read, watch their videos.”

So, to follow Geiberger's lead, let's take a fresh look at the Stack & Tilt method.

Indeed, 2010 was a very good year for Stack and Tilt gurus, Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer. Their premier student, Charlie Wi banked $1.5 million, and three others (Bill Lunde, J.J. Henry, Alex Cejka) finished 1, 2, 3 at the Turning Stone Resort Championship in August. (Even more remarkable has been the turnaround of Lunde who had quit golf three years earlier. The San Diego native rebuilt his swing with Bennett and Plummer, notched three top 10s and banked over a million bucks in 2010.)

We caught up with Bennett and Plummer at last fall's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas to get a firsthand look into their controversial methodology. What we found were two soft-spoken, bright men with what they say is a measuring system that every player fits into. As Bennett told Golf Tips, It's a thoroughly mapped-out set of variables and principles, but ultimately because it's a system, it can start at its lowest denominator and increase in sophistication for the amount the golfer wants or needs. In other words, it's applicable to pros and beginners. If you're looking to overhaul your swing for 2011, read on.

Stack & Tilt-bend backHere's Mike at setup and Andy illustrating how one should extend at impact.

1. EXTEND AT IMPACT! Andy Plummer: One of the biggest differences between the game's poorest and best players is how they extend (or don't extend) at impact. The legs straighten and the spine extends, pushing the golfer off the ground. This is the swing's power source.

Mike Bennett: The spine is flexing and extending continuously through the whole swing. Your address posture is not static throughout the swing. As most golfers swing through, they stay in flexion and their body stops turning, their arms start flexing and, as a result, they don't hit the ball far.

Plummer: Because you can't turn in flexion. If one tries to, his or her hips will stop turning. Some folks write that off as a flexibility problem. In fact, there's a whole cottage industry that has sprung up with people getting soft-tissue massages because no one has taught golfers how to extend through the ball. Unfortunately now we've got lots of golfers who think that the golf swing is really difficult and that they have to be in such good shape to do it. We believe that point of view damages the golf-instruction industry.

Stack & Tilt-extend to turnAndy's legs straighten and his spine extends. This pushes him off the ground. Mike demonstrates the result: a perfect finish.

2. EXTEND TO TURN Bennett: These pictures illustrate how the body must extend to turn. It's that extension that also functions as a power source.

Plummer: Notice above how Mike sets up in flexion and I end up in extension. This is uniformly demonstrated by the game's best players and uniformly not demonstrated by the game's worst players.

Bennett: Most golfers think that they need to maintain their spine angle at impact. But we say you're supposed to maintain your inclination. Your spine angle constantly changes its flex during the swing so that you can have thrust and keep turning. Andy often tells students in clinics to tuck your hips underneath you when you finish, or rather to raise your hips up when you finish.

Plummer: All athletes make this motion. Think of volleyball players spiking it over the net, or a gymnast doing a back flip, or Kobe dunking a basketball.

Bennett: The discus thrower, the high jumper.

Plummer: A shot-putter goes from flexion into extension. All these athletes extend. The same motion is demonstrated in a variety of sports where your body generates any sort of thrust.

Stack & Tilt-left tiltAndy shows the extension and left tilt; Mike shows how it looks in the swing.

3. EXTEND, TILT & TURN Bennett: The above pictures illustrate how, in the backswing, the spine angle changes. The spine goes into extension so that it can turn. The spine keeps tilting to the left the longer your backswing gets so that your head doesn't raise up from the ground.

Plummer: Golfers don't stay bent over when they swing back–they extend. But if they only extended, their head would raise up. At the same time they extend, they also must left tilt and turn. Coordinating those three pieces (extension, left tilt and turning) keeps their head still. Doing one piece more than the other, makes one's head move.

Stack & Tilt-hip bend Stack & Tilt-hip bend straight on

There are two things in these pictures that illustrate major differentiators between the game's best players and its worst. The first is the degree the left shoulder goes downward. A poor golfer's left shoulder doesn't go down enough, long enough. He or she levels out and, as a result, raises his or her head. The second thing is that the player's left arm can't orbit the body long enough. It won't go back far enough, and if he or she tries to go back farther, the head starts bobbing all over the place. The function of the extension is to allow the golfer to turn longer on the backswing, propelling the left arm. That fault has been written off to lack of core strength–and more–and it causes a very poor definition of how the body needs to continually keep left-tilting. On the other hand, one's extension allows his or her shoulder to turn. That permits the left arm to orbit all the way around the body, which permits the player to hit the ball far.

Bennett: It's your body turn that allows you to keep your arms straight. If you try to stay in flexion, your arms start to flex to help move the club back. You just can't stay bent over and keep your arms straight, whether in the backswing or followthrough.

Stack & Tilt-hip slide

4. SLIDE YOUR HIPS

Stack& Tilt-follow-through tiltMike's tilt is a result of Andy's hip slide.

Plummer: Another component to demonstrate is the linear component or the hip slide. So we have extension, left tilt and hip slide. (And, trust us, we recognize that slide is a dirty word in golf.)

The poorest players don't move their hips forward enough, long enough. In fact a good mantra for golfers would be: fast enough, forward enough, long enough. It's beneficial for people who don't really understand how much extension they need to start out with more weight on their left side. Starting out with more weight on their left side eliminates the need for the hips to slide and allows the golfer to extend.

Some people think that sliding your hips causes a block. It does not. Extending or standing up too fast does. It throws the club to the right, and you end up blocking the shot. If you just slid and turned, the club would always come around in a circle. Coordinating those three things together (extension, left tilt, hip slide) to make the golfer swing in a circle is what the Stack and Tilt system is all about.

Stack & Tilt-back-extend Stack & Tilt-down-extend Stack & Tilt-follow-extend

Bennett: In the pictures (left), Andy is tilting and extending to propel his backswing and followthrough.

Plummer: You can sum up the pictures of Mike below in just six words: weight forward, shoulder down, hands in. Note how his arms didn't lift off his rib cage on his backswing because his shoulders continued to turn. And his shoulders only continued to turn because he kept left-tilting and extending. You can see that the hands are in by the fact that they're behind–not above–the shoulder.

From the down-the-line view, you can see how the spine tilt is keeping Mike's club from swinging out across the ball. Because the hips slid forward, his head didn't raise from the ground so he stayed in inclination. Hence, he's not topping the ball. Note how the shaft angle is parallel to the ground, and in line with his hands. Most amateurs start their downswing with not enough hip slide, keep their weight back and so are outside of it. It's the slide that keeps the club in.

Bennett: The last part of the equation would be the player tucking the hips in extension. The hips are higher (that's part of the extension), the arms are straight (that's part of the extension too), and the hip slide helps prevent the head from ever raising up from the ground. If a player keeps sliding his or her hips, what's lost in extension (from moving one's head away from the ground) is reestablished when the hips slide and he or she tilts to the right.

Plummer: Now let's take a look at Mike's photos. Note how his head hasn't raised up and his shoulders have turned at the same angle as the backswing. The eyes, shoulders and spine are tilted to the ground. That only happens because Mike has done a continuous hip slide.

When you look at the picture below, you can see that I'm extended off the ground–I'm in anatomical extension. But if you look at Mike's picture, he hasn't raised off the ground. How's that possible? How is it possible to go from flexion to extension without raising up? The answer is that his hips have slid. It increases the right tilt that replaces the loss of forward flexion coming through the ball.

Stack & Tilt address Stack & Tilt backswing Stack & Tilt downswing Stack & Tilt follow-through

 

Most people don't know how much they need to slide and how far they need to go forward. They move forward a little bit, then stop and continue turning without moving forward so they have more rotary movement than linear. As a result, they swipe across the ball like a windshield wiper. If you could tell them to start with more weight on their left and to continue to keep moving their hip forward, that would keep them from hitting out at the ball and make them draw the ball.

The first line in our book, The Stack and Tilt Swing, says, If all of the golf instruction books, videos and lessons for the last hundred years had taught people to keep their weight on the left side and to swing their hands inward, we would have generations of golfers drawing the ball instead of slicing. The game has been misinterpreted by shifting the weight back and then not clearly articulating how far and how long it needs to go forward. This story originally ran in Golf Tips in the winter 2010 issue.

Bonus Tip: Play Better GolfBowl!

Plummer: Most golfers turn too much, but don't move their hips forward enough, long enough. A helpful image to think about is a bowler who always draws the ball. A bowler's hips move forward without turning very much. He's more linear and less rotary. He keeps his weight forward and his right foot back. This image should help golfers get the feel for hitting out at the ball (and drawing it) as opposed to hitting across the ball (and slicing it).

Michael Bennett and Andy Plummer have more than 40 years of combined experience in golf instruction, and teach their Stack and Tilt swing to more than 20 PGA Tour players. To order their DVD, The Stack & Tilt Golf Swing, please visit stackandtilt.com.

Shot on location at Angel Park Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nevada.

24 thoughts on “Stack & Tilt Revisited

  1. A number of players have left stack and tilt, namely Mike Weir and Aaron Baddeley, Charlie Wi has yet to score a PGA victory and Dean Wilson only has one title, that is not a rousing endorsement for this swing philosophy. The only part I really agree with is not making a lateral move off the ball.

  2. Just because Charlie or any of the other professionals using Stack and Tilt have yet to make a huge splash on the PGA Tour scene, doesn’t mean that the method doesn’t work. Without Stack and Tilt, many of these guys may not even be on tour. Many of them were on their way out until Mike and Andy started working with them to revitalize their game. Let’s face it, if you’re one of the top players in the world and you’re winning a couple times per year, even if your swing is flawed, you’re still getting it done, so why switch? You don’t try to fix what isn’t broken, which is why many of the Stack and Tilt players seek out Mike and Andy in the first place, what they’ve got is broken and they need help. Mickelson’s swing isn’t great in a lot of areas, but his athleticism and natural ability allow him to play with those errors, so he’s not going to switch.

  3. my game is better with this method and so were most golfers I am familiar with. seems to me there is some sort of undercurrent by the guys that have always run golf to keep these guys out. don’t understand it – when golf as a sport is suffering. I would think the establishment would be so supportive. you don’t realize the numbers and numbers that have adopted the swing or are trying. I went to a lesson, free. I was never, ever so impressed-and it wasn’t my goal-quite the opposite. add me as a newer supporter, totally. I get it.

  4. Did you not see the first two lines of this story?

    “Charlie Wi banked $1.5 million, and three others (Bill Lunde, J.J. Henry, Alex Cejka) finished 1, 2, 3 at the Turning Stone Resort Championship in August. (Even more remarkable has been the turnaround of Lunde who had quit golf three years earlier. The San Diego native rebuilt his swing with Bennett and Plummer, notched three top 10s and banked over a million bucks in 2010.)”

  5. I’ve been golfing for 25 year, have been coached by a number of top professionals including one of the TOP Four (JM), I had enough of the “insanity”. I would practice for hours and hours doing the same old stuff these top professional had ingrained into me, It just wasn’t working. I went to a 2 day clinic with Mike and Andy; what a life changing event, my love for the game returned after learning the S&T. In addition to having a complete understanding of the physics of the swing, Mike and Andy are truly exceptional individuals whose passion to teach and make the game fun is second to none. They are amazing teachers and anyone who doubts that the Stack and Tilt is the swing of the future, just ask yourself this question – How is your swing working for you? Have an open mind, give S&T a shot and you will also enjoy the game again. Just one more thing- watch John Cook this weekend at the Allianz in FLA- why do you thing he is playing so well?? Stack & Tilt – thats why!!!

  6. S & T was a great start in the right direction for me, but it didn’t give me a consistent swing. Check out Mac O’grady’s swing before you give up on S&T. Youtube his swing and watch what he’s doing with his set up. Copying his set up transformed my swing over a weekend at the range and on the course. (Hint, check out his right foot)

  7. Ladies an Gentlemen, I had the plaeasure to work with Mike and Andy an the have help me personally. A close friend of mine who is club pro was player of the year in the Met PGA Section. Is there teaching going to be for everyone no it is not. What happens to other top teachers when their star students play well?? Wheres Leadbetter an McClean??? If you better details about Stack an Titlt look at photos of Ben Hogan in his book “Five Fundamentals” look at the Circles he uses. by the way one of the best ball strikers an hardest works.

  8. In all my years of playing the tour, I’ve heard and tried every possible golf swing idea. I can honestly say that I can’t find find one thing wrong or out of line with any of the research findings or teachings of Mike and Andy. I’ve found that the principles of S&T work for every golfer…young, old, male, or female. At age 73 my game feels in pretty good shape thanks to my understanding of the swing principles as explained by Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer. Al Geiberger, Mr.59

  9. Publish this please
    These two men are articulate , knowledgeable, and sensible, They do not inspire their students with opinion. It isn’t about what they think that suits their teaching eye. It is about mathematics and reality. Their information is based on real measurements, what makes a circle a circle on an inclined plane and how our body needs to work to make this happen efficiently.
    A multitude of golfers are doing it or at least the most essential parts of it.[ Tiger]]
    It is for everybody. Nothing good or even lasting came to fruition without math as the base design element.
    Mike and Andy are on the cutting edge of golf swing instruction. I am honored to have taken lessons from them and thankful I am still interested in learning. There is enough opinion out there to keep all of us from real progress. Disputing geometric principle is impossible, period. The beauty is you will get better, faster,and your body will be much happier making this movement.
    Kregg Moyer PGA

  10. Any golfer, professional or amateur cannot find or use enough superlatives to describe and praise the work,presentation,knowledge and politeness after meeting,working with,receiving instruction or listening to Michael Bennett and Andy Plummer.I personally cannot wait to see them again, hopefully in Germany where we are going to put S&T on the map.

  11. I have a friend who has adopted stack and tilt who has gone from about a 15 handicap to an 8. I can hit 330 yard sea level drives at the age of 46 with limited flexibility and a soda belly.

    They should call the system “stack and crack” because I have been cracking the ball with all of my clubs. I hit driver, 8 iron into a 520 yard par 5 last week.

    The butt tucking piece has changed me from a wilder slicer of 290 yard drives into a guy that can draw a driver if necessary, and I am consistently pounding drives over 300 yards.

    All I need now is a short game, because Mike and Andy have given me a swing for a lifetime.

  12. Last year I discovered that if I placed more weight on the left, my shots were smoother, longer and better shaped. Earlier this year I stumbled on a description of S&T and bought the book because of its “left-leaning” philosophy. Clear explanations and a straightforward progression of learning steps improved my swing, ball striking and ball flight. I’m playing golf with confidence, better than I have in years, because of the S&T teachings. When I hit a bad shot, I know why, make an adjustment and get back on track. Like others have said, golf is fun again.

  13. I don’t care if it’s called the Stack and Tilt the Shake and Bake or whatever, it works for me. I’ve had many many people try to teach me the “correct golf swing” and I always failed, to the point I was very close to giving up the game. I read about the Stack and Tilt swing and decided to learn it and apply it. My game has never been better!! Thank you to Andy and Mike for sharing this system. There will always be critics of change, but for what it’s worth you’re helping those people that would probably have quit the game!!

  14. Stack and Tilt is a great tool for the average golfer but not necessarily for the touring pro. Trying to justify if by example of professional golfer success is just plain dumb.

  15. Aaron Baddeley has now won “Come back player of the year” moving away from S and T

    I’ll be honest I have only just started reading into it. In my opinion you give any golfer in the top 300 in the world they’d hit it good after all they are the best golfers in the world. SO far it seems a method that is difficult for amateurs to do and understand. I have seen a few members at my club claim they are doing it and now have the shanks and all sorts. However I wont dish it straight away I will continue to look into it as I am intriuged

  16. Updating my earlier comment, Charlie Wi just failed to make the FedEx playoffs that means he has limited or no status for next season. Bill Lunde is on the Web.com tour. Dean Wilson is MIA and I haven’t heard anything about Cejka and Henry.

    Aaron Baddeley won in LA after he left stack and tilt.

  17. I am a teaching professional and have had he opportunity to spend years researching the swing. What I find interesting is the fact that many pros who believe that the traditional 2 plane approach is the only method, continue to give lesson after lesson to the same students with very little improvement. The sway and lunge approach just does not improve ball striking in average players. What does improve ball striking is improved impact. What improves impact is steadiness. One of the easiest ways to remain steady is to not move your head and stay centered over the ball. Any lateral movement will make solid impact very difficult for the average player. Therefore, staying centered, keeping your weight slightly on your left (right handed players) from address back through impact will result in immediate improvement. The tilting, extension, flexion etc. happens almost automatically if you don’t move your head and stay centered. Read up on Impact Golf, The Right Sided Swing, 5 Simple Keys,One Plane Swing.

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