Better golfers know that to swing the club consistently on plane, the secret is to avoid having an address position that causes you to lift the club up at the top of your swing, only to then drop the club back down on the forwardswing. For instance, when golfers hunch down over the ball at address, they become more inclined to lift their entire body up vertically at the top of the swing. In fact, this is a common position for the beginner or high-handicapper to be in, since many of them feel that the golf swing isn't so much a circular move as it is an up-and-down motion. So what do they do? They lift straight up on the backswing, as you can see by the above photos. And in case you're wondering, I don't have any chance of making a good swing from there.
The right way to swing is to always remember that the golf swing is, in fact, circular, and any instinct to dip or lift the body ought to be avoided. The key is in finding a neutral spine-angle position at address. (By the way, spine angle refers to how forward my upper body is leaning toward the ball.) As you can see by the lower photos, not only have I found a comfortable spine angle at address, but I'm also able to keep my angle the same at the top of my swing. No lifting, no dipping–just a steady rotation of the body led me there.
So practice your spine angle and see what angle is easiest for you to retain. Some golfers have greater spine angles than others, some less. Either way, the key is in staying consistent from the start of the swing to the top and, of course, at the impact position. Do that, and your ballstriking will improve in a hurry.
When was the last time you got your clubs' lie angles checked? In case you're wondering, both time and wear can cause your lie angles to change, which can cause all sorts of inconsistencies in your game. But first, let's get on the same page as to what lie angles are. In short, a club's lie angle refers to the angle of the shaft relative to the ground with the sole of the club flat on the ground. A steeper lie angle (upright) tends to favor taller players with more upright swings, but it's also favored by players who want to hit draws, since it places the hands in a higher position at address. Conversely, a lower lie angle (often referred to as a flat lie angle) enables shorter players to retain the length of a given shaft, and also positions the hands lower to the ground. Players who want to avoid hooking the ball tend to prefer flatter lie angles, as well.
Now, how do you determine the right angle for you? Check your ball impact spots. If you catch the ball on the toe more often than not, your lie angle might be too flat for you. It's likely your divots will be kind of shallow, too. If you catch the heel a lot, your clubs might be too upright for you. With irons, it's a simple fix to adjust your lie angle so you can make more solid contact. It also can be done with putters, hybrids, woods and even drivers, although we suggest you contact a clubfitter first before exploring that idea. Having the correct lie angles, when combined with a solid spine tilt is a must-do if you want to start playing your best golf.
Andrew Getson, PGA, teaches at the Grayhawk Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. For more info, visit andrewgetsongolf.com.