Function of the Head in the Golf Swing

Picture #1

Scott Sackett
Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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Possibly the worst piece of information one could give in golf is, “Keep your head down.” The reason is because it implies no head movement.

Picture #1 shows head position at address with an iron.

Picture #2 shows proper head movement (allowing a completed backswing).

In all great golf swings there is one common denominator: The head has got to move lateral to a degree if you’re going to make a complete shoulder turn in your backswing.

When we see a proper backswing (shown in picture #2), the head will naturally move slightly to the right. This is the sensation of loading into the right axis point. If the head stays perfectly still in the backswing one of two things can happen: 1) the shoulder turn will be very restricted. 2) Possibility of getting into a reverse “C”.

In our Tour Research Studies, the average head movement in the backswing is between one and four inches laterally. Harvey Pennick said it best, “Show me a player who keeps their head still and I’ll show you a player that can’t play.”
Generally, the number one piece of information given to any golfer who has just hit a bad shot is, “You lifted your head, keep your head down.” That thought alone is detrimental.

Drill: Take your set-up in front of a mirror without a golfclub. Put your arms across your chest. Then turn over to your right side. If done correctly, you should see a small degree of head movement. This would be the sensation of the first step to a proper golf swing.

Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine TOP 100 Teacher since 1997. Teaches at McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, along with being The Director of Instruction at The Rim Golf Club in Payson, AZ. For more information on lessons, visit To contact Scott personally, e-mail him at