Dipping the Forward Shoulder in the Backswing
The golf swing relies on a synchronous and fluid connection between multiple muscle groups. Because of the chain-like fashion in which the swing works, one error can result in a number of additional errors. Dipping the shoulder, for example, can lead to an improper shoulder rotation and swing plane. Luckily, correcting this swing error isn't terribly difficult.
Front Shoulder's Role
The front shoulder, or left should for a right-handed player, plays an important role in the golf swing. The degree to which you can rotate this shoulder away from the ball during the backswing has a direct effect on how much clubhead speed you can produce and, subsequently, how far you will hit the ball. You know you have rotated far enough when your chin makes contact with the front shoulder during the backswing. In fact, Ben Hogan used to wear out this area on his golf shirts from achieving this position in the swing.
Causes of Dipping
As you turn away from the ball, the front shoulder should naturally dip to some extent. Very few professionals, if any, keep their shoulders completely level throughout the swing. However, dipping too much is detrimental and may occur for a number of reasons. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is an attempt to "pick the club up" during the backswing. Instead of taking the club back low and slow and allowing the shoulders to rotate naturally, you may be aggressively attempting to lift the club off the ground. This will produce a very sharp, upright swing plane and cause your shoulder to dip more than normal.
Dipping the front shoulder will more than likely produce a fat shot, or one in which you strike downward behind the ball and take too big of a divot. Because dipping the shoulders causes a more upright swing plane, you may also hit the ball higher, with more spin, and more left to right than you usually do.
To achieve the feel of a proper front shoulder rotation during the backswing, grasp a full range bucket with both hands. Assume your normal stance, and mimicking the backswing, pass the bucket to a friend standing directly behind you. Dipping the shoulders too much will cause you to spill balls out of the bucket. Also, take the club back as low and long as possible during your regular swing. This will prevent you from picking the club up.
- Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf; Ben Hogan and Herbert Warren Wind
- A.I.M. of Golf; Mitchell Spearman and Harry Hurt
Graham Ulmer began writing professionally in 2006 and has been published in the "Military Medicine" journal. He is a certified strength-and-conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Ulmer holds a Master of Science in exercise science from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Washington State University.