How to correct a flat golf swing

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You’ve heard of a flat swing. 

Your recent games have you suspecting you might have it. Correcting it guarantees you one or both of two things: improving your ball strike consistency and upping your game. 

If you’re in it to win it, read on.

What is a flat golf swing, and why do I have it?

Imagine a Lumberjack takes up golf, or maybe even a Professional Baseballer. The Lumberjack’s or Professional Baseballer’s approach to hitting the ball is more ax-chop-swing-smack than the more widely practiced Swan Lake-graceful arc approach. 

It has a lot to do with your arms and hands when you hit the ball. Your arms and hands will affect your swing plane (the angle and path your club follows as you swing back from and forward through the ball). 

And like everything in life, the outcome largely depends on how you approach it. 

Flat Swing Fixed

What am I doing wrong?

A flat backswing comes in either low and fast, like a hula-hoop at waist level, or it comes over the top and cuts across like a whipping action. 

It’s horizontal instead of vertical, opposite an “upright” swing.

The upright swing happens when your arms and hands are too low. At the start of your backswing, your elbows are just about tucked into your waist. 

Your hands will be lower than your shoulders, and your golf club is behind your shoulders rather than above them.

If you think about it, this restricts natural movement and determines the trajectory of your ball at the moment of impact. It’s all very scientific, but once you understand what’s actually happening when you swing this way, you will better know how and why you should fix it.

Five things impact your ball trajectory:

1. The clubface angle or direction when it touches the ball.

2. The path or direction the clubhead moves when it hits the ball.

3. The angle of the clubhead in relation to the ground, i.e., your angle of attack.

4. Which part of your clubhead comes into contact with the ball.

5. The speed of your clubhead.

All this is a lot to keep in mind when you’re trying to take the shot, but you’ve heard them say, “Practice makes perfect.”? They’re not right, but they’re not wrong either. Practice, in reality, makes permanent. 

If you’re practicing doing the wrong thing, you may perfect it, but you’ll also make it permanent.

Let’s get physical!

Becoming good or better at any sport needs a few things. Most of us are not born with the silver spoon of raw talent. So, we mortals depend on hard work, consistent practice, and sculpting our bodies into your Nan’s version of sexy (think Tom Jones in the ’60s).

Jokes aside, though, a lot of what goes wrong in your backswing has to do with a poor physique. You might have a bad back, a big gut, a weak core, or are just straight-up unfit. 

Big bellies, bad backs, and weak cores get in the way of good shots (literally). It is no wonder if after walking half the course that your shots are going to take the knock.

It’s tough to undo the damage, but it’s not impossible, and committing to improving your fitness with some moderate cardio and strength training will go a long way in helping you improve your game.

Can we fix it?! Yes, we can!

Golf swings, like you, are unique. But it would help if you honed your swing to achieve your maximum potential. You can learn many techniques and tips, but you need to decide which work well together for you.

Finding your swing plane

You already have a swing plane of sorts going on in all of your shots. It doesn’t change all that much between those shots, either. 

Don’t despair! Here’s a really cool video by Julian Mellor from Proper Golfing to help you decide if your swing is too flat and how to fix it.

Observing the Pros

Pro Golfers Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler (amongst others) are known for their flat swing technique, proving that it most certainly works for some. 

The research will show you the significant benefits of playing with a flat backswing. However, these guys are pros and prove the exception rather than the rule.

Conclusion: The bottom line

Checking out video tutorials and even paying a local professional to give you some pointers and a few lessons for your next session at the driving range will provide you with some practical tools to improve your swing and, ultimately, your game.

The better you get, the more fun you’ll have!

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Young talented golfer and writer and top rated weekend golfer. He's favorite player is Tiger and he spends most of his spare time on a golf course.

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