You’ve probably been reminded 100 times on a golf course to keep your head down.
However, that piece of advice is wrong. That’s also not the only golf myth Eagle Vale head pro Chris DeVincentis would like you to ignore. You also don’t need to worry about bending your knees or keeping your arms straight.
Now, you also don’t want to stand ramrod straight when you stand over the ball. DeVincentis wants a “little flex” in the knees more than a “bend”.
“If you’re bending your knees too much, you won’t see your toes or your feet,” DeVincentis says. “You would like to bend enough so you can get your shoulders over your toes.”
The reason bending your knees is a golf myth is because the proper bend, the one to worry about, is more at the hips.
“As straight as you can, you’d like to keep your chin up and bend at your hips,” DeVincentis says. “If I’m 5-foot-8, when I bend to set up for a golf shot, I may only be 5-foot-4. When I make my backswing, I want to stay 5-4 and turn level. When we do that, we have room to turn so our shoulders can turn under our chin and not into our chin.”
The turn is often where the “keep your head down” advice comes. A golf partner will see you pop up in the backswing and think the proper correction is to keep the head down.
You do want to keep the head from popping up, but it’s not the head that should be locking in your posture. The angle of your upper body at address should stay the same throughout the swing.
“Your head is attached to your spine, so you have to keep your spine down. Your head can be doing anything it wants,” DeVincentis says. “We do have to stay down and we should think about that, but maybe a ten thousandth of a second. Any amount of time that’s just thinking about keeping your head down leaves you no time for footwork and turning your body and rotating and all the other things that happen in a swing.”
As for the arms, they are already straight at address. After that, it’s not always incorrect to have the arms flexed a bit anywhere in the swing. DeVincentis points out Hale Irwin and Lee Westwood as great players who will have some bend even at impact.
DeVincentis won’t prescribe patterning your game after those two legends, but he also doesn’t want to see the tension that comes with locking the arms straight throughout the swing.
“Not everyone can extend their arm and get it extended so much. Whenever I see that happen, I typically see (a swing that’s) too rigid,” he says. “It would be like throwing a frisbee (with the arms locked straight). You just don’t do it. You have some flex and give.”
Same goes for the three great myths of golf. Don’t fall in lockstep to the myths of golf. Understand where the flex is.