WNY PGA Tip: DON'T keep your head down

Paul Riccio says age-old diagnosis only sickens swing

Macedon, NY - All of us weekend teaching golf pros do the same thing. I've done it. You've done it.

Someone hits a bad shot and invariably, we say, "You pulled your head. You didn't keep your head down".

However, keeping your head down on a swing isn't the solution. 

It's more likely part of the problem. 

"It gets blamed for every bad shot," says Paul Riccio, head pro at the Champions Golf Center in Macedon. "Everybody focuses on the golf ball and they should be focusing on the target."

Look no further for a proper example than the best golfers in the world. 

"You watch the Tour players on Sunday, they're looking at their target, not the golf ball," Riccio says. "The avid golfer gets up to this ball and they (lock their head down). They don't want their eyes to move off that golf ball. If they had x-ray vision, they'd melt the ball."

Holding your head face down on the location of the ball actually gets in the way of a proper swing. 

"Your core has to keep turning," Riccio says. "Most people, when they're trying to keep their head down and focus on the golf ball, their body stops moving and they flick their hands and arms at the ball. Your core has got to turn through the shot.

"You don't want to be leaning back, trying to keep your head back at the ball. Turn through and finish tall with your head up."

A key part of making this happen is footwork. 

"What helps turn your core is getting off your right side. So many people swing the golf club and they're flat footed," Riccio says.

A proper swing gets a player's back foot off the ground and it should end up with only the tip on the ground. 

"It makes it easier to turn through the shot."

Riccio is a firm believer in choosing a target on every swing, even in practice. Even at the driving range. 

The inspiration comes from a story with former Oak Hill head professional Butch Harmon at the center. 

"One day, Butch was hitting balls on the range and (his father) Claude came out. He asked his son, 'what are you hitting at?' Butch says, 'Nothing. I'm just hitting balls.' And Claude replied, 'Well, if you aim at nothing, you're going to hit nothing'."

With any new swing thought, Riccio reminds that it will take practice and commitment. '

"A lot of times, you want to revert back to what's comfortable for you on the golf course," Riccio says. "That's what you have to be careful about. Just keep the golf course in front of you. Pick a target that's attainable and aim at the target."

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