Weight Shift 101

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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In almost every column, I discuss the importance of moving the golf club on its correct plane and how to successfully apply the clubface into the back of the ball for more consistent results. I have heard many times that “the golf ball only knows what the club face tells it.” This statement is so true.  In this month’s column, I am going to discuss the body and how your weight should move throughout the backswing, downswing and into the finish. 

One of the most challenging aspects when training the pivot is sequence. Oftentimes, a player will move the body incorrectly. This can really lead to disastrous results and is why some instructors shy away from any big muscle instruction. The reality is, however, the body and how it moves throughout the swing supports the plane and supports the correct conditions needed for ideal impact.

Setup:  At setup, the weight should be evenly distributed between the right and left leg. In addition, the weight should be in the center of the feet and not favoring the toes or heels.

Drill: Grip your club and stand upright. Close your eyes and balance yourself. This is a great way of feeling how to balance your body while setting up to a golf ball. Attempt to feel the same way as you move into golf posture.

Backswing:  As the golf club moves initially during the takeaway, be sure to keep the weight relatively passive. Many amateurs make the mistake of moving the weight too early into the back leg.

Once the golf club travels waist high, the majority of the weight should begin to transfer into the back leg and foot. Very important!!! – be sure at the top of the backswing, your weight is on the inside of the back heel and not the outside. This is a fatal flaw I see consistently with amateurs. 

Drill:  Swing up to the top of the backswing and stop. Feel where your weight is. If it moves to the outside of the back foot, correct it and run this process again.

It is absolutely imperative to transfer the weight properly into the inside of the back foot for the proper transition into the downswing.

Transition:  The transition starts the forward motion of the golf swing. This piece of the swing is important and separates the game’s elite from those that struggle. The best players in the world start the transition from the ground up as the opposite holds true for amateurs. The very first move towards the target should be with the lower body. More specifically, the legs and lead hip should move in a lateral fashion. This movement often referred to as “hip slide” allows the weight to move from the back leg into the forward leg. This motion also has to occur independently from the upper body.

Drill:  In front of a mirror, cross your arms. Turn your upper body and move the weight towards the inside of your back heel. From here, feel the lower body squat and slide so your weight moves towards the forward foot. Watch your head in the mirror and make sure it doesn’t race towards the target during this transition. You should really feel a pushing off sensation from your back foot. This transition motion is important and every great ball striker in the history of golf has done it well.

Finish:  The good news is, once you learn to transition from the top of the backswing down, the hard part is over. The finish really starts from impact to the end of the swing. While watching the best players in the world, it is amazing how balanced they are when the swing is complete. Many amateurs don’t hold the finish long enough or fall off balance.  

Drill:  Hit a golf ball and hold your finish until the ball lands. This might feel like an eternity but it will really help with balance and consistency.

There is no doubt the correct body motion and weight shift is vital to good golf. Correcting the manner your body moves can be challenging. My advice, work on the above motions separately. Make sure your weight is on the inside of the back foot at the top of backswing first. From here, move into training the correct transition and then work to create a balanced lasting finish. Once you master your pivot, you are one step closer to perfecting your game!!

John Stahlschmidt is the Head Instructor for the TOUR Academy TPC Scottsdale. To schedule a lesson or to comment on this column, email John at johnst@touracademy.com.