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Maintaining Spine Angle: Why Posture Matters In The Golf Swing

For as long as I can remember, maintaining my spine angle throughout my golf swing has been something I’ve struggled with.

As someone who naturally uses my legs for power, I often have a tendency to jump upwards out of my posture too early before impact (without letting my hips and body rotate first) which causes me to early extend and throw my hands at the ball.

The result varies from a straight hit to either a hook or block/slice, depending on how well I synced up the timing of the swing.

Sadly, this is both an inefficient and inconsistent way to swing a golf club.

A better way to do it is to instead maintain my spine angle during the swing, and explode upwards with my legs after impact – doing this allows the hips and chest to rotate open, creating a stable base, and gives me a far better chance of delivering a square clubface, and repeatable low-point, each time I take a rip the ball.

Trust me when I say I have done hours and hours of reading about maintaining spine angle in the golf swing, and despite trying many different drills must admit it can be tough to engrain the proper movement in your swing – especially if you’ve been a long-time early extender like me.

But, learn the right methods, and practice them regularly, and maintaining posture will soon become second nature.

In this article I’ll share with you the best tips and drills I’ve learned along my golfing journey that can help you better maintain spine angle in your golf swing, and get you striking the ball more solid than ever.

What is spine angle in the golf swing?

Spine angle in the golf swing is best described as the angle produced by your spine – from the top of your head, through to your tailbone – as you address the golf ball. Imagine a line running down your spine, while in your set-up posture, meeting the ground – the ‘V’ type angle created is your spine angle.

Naturally, the angle your spine makes with the turf will vary depending on your physical traits (height, weight, length of arms, length of legs, etc) – but an ideal address position will have your armpits positioned directly over the balls of your feet.

This will create a balanced set-up that will give you the best chance of making a good swing.

I’ve explained the importance of balance in the list of articles below, which I recommend you read as getting simple things such as address position correct will help greatly in maintaining your spine angle throughout the swing.

Now that you know what spine angle is, it’s time to delve deeper into why maintaining it is key to a good golf swing.

Why is it important to maintain spine angle in the golf swing?

Maintaining spine angle in the golf swing is crucial as it gives your chest a stationary point in which to rotate around. Turning around your spine in the backswing and downswing helps you stay in posture, and prevents you from standing up and early extending. This helps you hit the ball in the centre of the clubface more often.

For so long, I neglected this in my own swing and it wasn’t until I started researching online that it became clear to me that I needed to focus more on keeping my posture throughout the entire shot.

Of course, maintaining spine angle alone, while it is a crucial element, is not enough to forge a perfect golf swing.

A full turn of the hips during the takeaway, a flat lead wrist at the top backswing, and opening of the hips into impact are other components that must happen as well in order to create a solid strike.

I’ve written an article on What The Golf Swing Should Feel like (From Start To Finish) that takes you through everything from takeaway, tempo, downswing and even grip pressure than can ensure all the other parts of your swing are being done correctly.

But, the importance of posture cannot be overstated, nor underestimated.

What I didn’t realise for a long time was that failing to maintain my spine angle was actually causing a number of problems in my swing that were a bi-product of me standing up out of my posture.

Let’s take a look at some of these faults.

What happens when you lose your spine angle in golf?

Failing to maintain your spine angle during the golf swing, especially when standing up out of your posture, can lead to faults such as a too inside club path; inconsistent ball-striking including fat or thin shots; flipping of the hands at the ball; casting of the club; and insufficient opening of the hips and chest at impact.

One of the most important elements to developing a consistent, repeatable golf swing is to limit the number of unnecessary movements your body makes each time you attempt to strike the ball.

A key variable that you can eliminate by maintaining your spine angle is up and down movement, which is a killer when it comes to good ball striking.

If you start in your posture at address but stand up as you move into impact, you’ve automatically changed how far your hands and arms are away from the ball.

This means the only way to reach it is to stop rotating your hips, and throw the club (commonly known as ‘casting’) at the ball in an attempt to make contact.

This pattern of movement is extremely hard to reproduce time and time again, meaning you’re unlikely to see any permanent improvement in your swing – you may have good days and bad days, but will always struggle with consistency when it comes to ball-striking.

That’s why learning to maintain spine angle during each swing is so very important if you want to become a better golfer.

So, how can you practice doing it? Let’s take a look at what some of the world’s best golf instructors have to say on the matter.

PGA Tour player Jimmy Walker showing how he keeps his posture throughout the swing.

How do you maintain spine angle in the golf swing?

One of the best ways to maintain your spine angle is to focus on how your chest moves throughout the entire golf swing. You should feel as though your chest covers the ball and remains pointed at the ground during the backswing, downswing and at impact. If you can do this, it will help you maintain your spine angle.

This process is otherwise known as ‘covering the golf ball’ – which I’ve explained in detail in another article that you should definitely read – and is one of the simplest but most effective swing thoughts when it comes to keeping your posture.

Being aware of what your chest is doing, and where it is pointing, is an easy way to make sure you’re in the correct position when striking the ball.

If your chest is pointing away from the ground at impact, it likely means you’ve stood up and lost your spine angle; if your chest remains pointed at the ground at impact, there’s a good chance you’ve maintained your spine angle.

Next time you’re practicing at the range or on the golf course, try keeping your chest over the ball during your swing and you might be surprised by how much your ball-striking improves.

Best drills for maintaining spine angle in the golf swing

But while swing thoughts such as covering the ball are excellent for changing your mentality and approach towards maintaining your spine angle, sometimes there’s no better way to engrain that feeling than through drills.

#1 Head against the wall drill

This is a great drill to train the feeling of staying in your posture throughout the entire swing as it gives you direct, physical feedback on how to do it correctly.

While you won’t hit balls doing it, it’s great for visualisation.

To perform the drill, do the following:

  • Find a wall inside or outside your home or apartment
  • Set-up in your normal address/stance, making sure your head is in contact with the wall in front of you
  • Grab a pitching wedge and place it across your chest, folding your arms around it
  • Make a full turn into your backswing, feeling the handle of the wedge move along the wall while ensuring your head also stays in contact with the wall
  • Try making the same movement in the downswing, with the clubhead running along the wall while your head stays in contact with the wall

Practice this each night after work, or before going to the driving range, and it will help train the correct movement for maintaining your spine angle.

#2 Butt against an object drill

This is probably my favourite drill – and one that I’ve had the most success with – when it comes to maintaining spine angle in my golf swing.

One of the most common ways people lose their posture is by humping their hips towards the ball and standing up out of their front-bend as they move into impact, rather than keeping their butt back, and rotating open.

This drill is a great way to combat that.

To perform the drill, do the following:

  • Set-up to the ball as you normally would
  • Using either an alignment stick, chair, or even a golf bag, place the object behind you so that it is in contact with your butt cheeks
  • Swinging at around 50 percent speed, make a backswing while ensuring your butt remains in contact with the stick/chair/bag at all times
  • Complete your downswing and make sure your butt keeps in touch with the object right the way through impact, and until the ball is gone (start by doing three-quarter swings first)
  • After making a few three-quarter swings, take a full swing and only allow your butt to come away from the stick/chair/bag after impact, as you move into your finish position

Doing this drill was a real breakthrough moment for me in training my body to maintain its spine angle throughout the swing.

It will feel uncomfortable at first, but you will absolutely feel the correct changes in your swing – and you will also clearly see the changes if you get somebody to record you while you practice.

If you’re unable to get to the range, you can do this drill easily at home – all you need is a hitting net and some foam golf balls (which are great because they won’t cause any damage from shots that miss the net).

I’ve recommended the top hitting nets on the market in another article you can view here.

#3 Wedge under the foot drill

This is another drill that really worked to help me break my bad habits and maintain my spine angle better.

One of the biggest reasons amateur golfers stand up out of their posture when they go to strike the ball is because their weight is too much towards their toes, rather than balanced evenly in the centre of their feet.

This drill works well to exaggerate the feeling of keeping your weight back towards your heels, which in reality will actually make you nice and centred (the old ‘feel versus real’ trick).

To perform the drill, do the following:

  • Set-up to the golf ball as you normally would
  • Grab a wedge (preferably a 56 or 60 degree) and place it under the heel of your trail foot, and step down so that the club shaft is lifted off of the ground
  • Make some small swings, ensuring your foot doesn’t come up off the wedge until well after you’ve struck the ball
  • Once comfortable, start making some full swings while focusing on the same thing (keeping your trail foot on the wedge until after impact)

If you’re someone who tends to jump up onto your toes, and out of your posture, as you go to hit the ball, this drill will make you feel very ‘flat-footed’ – which is exactly the intention.

While you may feel like you’re too much on your heels, in reality it’s likely you’ll be a lot closer to being centred, and balanced, than you were previously.

Practicing this regularly will stop you from standing up out of your posture, and in turn help you maintain your spine angle throughout the swing.

Final message

Training your body to maintain its spine angle can be a really difficult thing to master in the golf swing – but I cannot stress how important it is.

Up and down movement (often caused by poor balance or early extension, which leads to standing up out of your posture) is a killer for consistency.

It will make it hard to control the low point of your swing, and as a result your ball-striking will suffer.

Doing the drills above will help break your bad habits, teach your body how to maintain its spine angle during the swing and get you flushing the ball better than you ever have.