A golf swing is complex, and there are so many things that can affect it. What’s more, every player swings the club in a different way, making it difficult to generalize about what a good swing actually looks like!
But one thing that often affects recreational golfers more so than anything else is the spine angle in the golf swing. But what do we mean by this? And why is it so important?
Below, we take you through seven critical facts about the angle of your spine in the golf swing and explain how you can try and put things right out on the range.
- The Spine Angle in a Golf Swing – Explained
- What is the Proper Spine Angle for a Golf Swing?
- How Do You Keep Your Spine Angle in a Golf Swing?
- Is My Golf Spine Angle Too Upright?
- What is the Reverse Spine Angle in Golf?
- Are You Losing Spine Angle in the Downswing?
- How Do You Tilt the Spine of an Address?
- Spine Angle Drills – What Can I Do?
The Spine Angle in a Golf Swing – Explained
The spine angle in a golf swing is the angle that your back takes from the top of your head through to your tailbone, which affects the way in which you address the golf ball. It’s helpful to picture the spine angle in a V shape, which is how many golfers visualize their setup.
Ensuring your spine angle is optimal allows you to address the ball correctly and fixes the common error that many recreational players make of hunching over the ball.
Maintaining the correct spine angle ensures your body is straight throughout your setup and execution, which means the ball should fly in the direction that you’re aiming.
What is the Proper Spine Angle for a Golf Swing?
The best spine angle to maintain is one that is in a V shape when you take a down-the-line position. In simpler terms, you need to maintain a relatively straight back at setup instead of hunching over the ball with your shoulders.
Once you’ve straightened your back, you then need to ensure that you maintain this posture throughout the course of your backswing and downswing.
Check this video from the Golf Channel on YT where you can visualize how to maintain spine angle:
If you alter the angle too much as you’re swinging the club – something that many of us do – it causes shots to go astray.
It’s helpful to imagine your body as a pendulum when you’re swinging the golf club.
A pendulum has a fixed point and a moving point, with a line that swings back and forth. For the moving point to go where it should, the fixed point needs to remain stationary.
This is a good analogy for your golf swing, as you need to keep the top of your spine straight and at the same point throughout your swing. The lower half of your body is where the rotation comes in.
How Do You Keep Your Spine Angle in a Golf Swing?
Maintaining an appropriate spine angle in your golf swing is often easier said than done. This is because it’s not something that recreational golfers think too much about; instead, focusing on other parts of the stance, including its width and shoulder rotation when executing a shot.
However, to improve your spine angle, you need to first acknowledge that you will never get your back completely straight.
This is because there is a natural curvature of the lower spine. So, when you’re trying to straighten your back in the golf swing, you need to focus on the upper part of your spine.
Once you’ve straightened things out, you need to keep your head still when you swing the club back. Beginner golfers often cast their heads to one side in the backswing, which automatically changes the angle of your spine.
So, make sure you keep your head down and over the ball once you have straightened your back, as this will help you to maintain the ideal spine angle throughout your swing.
Is My Golf Spine Angle Too Upright?
While straightening your back is an important adjustment to make if you hunch over the golf ball, there’s a danger of going too upright. For instance, if your posture and spine angle are too upright, it will affect your swing plane.
When your swing plane is upright, you’re much more likely to hit a low golf shot. For many recreational golfers, this is better described as a duff shot or a mishit! Therefore, it’s really important to strike a balance and not be too stiff when you’re swinging a golf club.
As you address and lean over the ball, make an adjustment right away and straighten the upper half of your back.
But if your bottom is sticking out too much and it feels like you’re reaching for the golf ball, reduce the tension in your back ever so slightly and hunch over a little.
The key thing to remember here is that every golfer is different, and your spine angle is largely defined by your general posture.
As with all other aspects of your golf swing, make sure you work on your spine angle out on the range, and try and straighten things up if you naturally hunch over the ball.
What is the Reverse Spine Angle in Golf?
In golf, the reverse spine angle is any upper body bend that occurs during the backswing. It is when your spine is angled toward the target during the backswing. It makes it really difficult for you to execute the ideal downswing, as your lower body can’t initiate the required movement.
One of the most common causes of a reverse spine angle in the golf swing is a lack of forearm rotation. This leads you to raise the golf club into position, as opposed to swinging back naturally.
Needless to say, it’s important to correct the reverse spine angle in your swing, as failing to do so will significantly affect your ability to swing through the ball correctly and efficiently.
You can diagnose the issue by asking your playing partner to take a photo of your swing at setup, and you can see at which angle your spine is directed during the backswing.
Are You Losing Spine Angle in the Downswing?
It’s reassuring to know that recreational golfers often lose spine angle in the downswing, so you’re certainly not alone! One of the main reasons for this is that many beginners and high handicappers pull their bodies away from the ball during the downswing.
This is due to an over-reliance on their arms. If you watch a professional golfer, they generate most of their power from their core, and their rotation is particularly impressive.
This allows them to hit through the ball as opposed to swinging their arms around their bodies.
When you generate most of your power and the mechanics of your swing with your arms, it’s nearly impossible to maintain the correct spine angle in the downswing.
If you’re losing spine angle in your downswing, we’d recommend trying to straighten things up on the range, where you can focus on generating the power of your swing in your body’s core instead of relying exclusively on your forearms.
How Do You Tilt the Spine of an Address?
To tilt, begin by straightening your upper back before tilting your spine ever so slightly towards the target. You should then open your body slightly so you are facing the target that you’re playing your shot towards.
Due to the myriad things you need to remember at the point of address, it can be difficult to remember to tilt your spine. But in reality, it’s such a small motion, and it can make a huge difference to your ball striking.
You should then keep things tight in the downswing before allowing your head to follow through after the point of impact with the ball.
When you’re working on your golf swing, it’s really helpful to break it down into segments, as this allows you to check if you’re making the required adjustments before striking the ball.
As always, practice out on the range before heading onto the course!
Spine Angle Drills – What Can I Do?
One of the best drills to practice when you’re working on your spine angle is the slow-swing drill. This drill helps to fix a number of the most common faults and helps with your improving your spine angle.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Line up and address the golf ball as you ordinarily would.
- Take a couple of natural practice swings at full pace without trying to change anything.
- Then, perform your swing in extreme slow motion, going through each of the segments of your swing.
- At each point of your swing, consider the position of your back. Are you hunched over? Are you too straight?
- Make the necessary corrections to your spine angle before going through the swing again in slow motion.
- Once you have made the changes, you can then speed things up again and take some practice shots with your adjusted spine angle.
While many golfers are good self-teachers, others struggle to make the necessary changes to their swings without guidance.
Given that swing angle is quite a complex aspect of your setup and swing, it’s a good idea to schedule a lesson with a pro to help you work on it.
You can then perform various drills at the range throughout the week and look to make the adjustments that will help you hit the ball much more consistently when you return to the course.
Although it’s often overlooked, the angle of your spine in the golf swing is super important. Just a small adjustment can make a world of difference, so it’s definitely worth thinking about when you’re next on the range.
If you don’t have any luck with the adjustments that you’ve made, consider hiring a golf coach to talk you through the mechanics of your swing, so you can start making the corrections you need to improve your game.