Is Your Golf Swing Too Steep?

Is Your Golf Swing Too Steep?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a golfer say “I’m too steep” on my lesson tee…

But are you? Are you really?

Read on to find out.

 

What Is Steep?

When we talk about being steep, people are often referring to the shaft pitch in the downswing.

Let’s explore this.
For years, there has been an crazy obsession over swing plane.

I remember when I first started teaching, instructors were drawing lines on swing videos and analyzing the club’s position relative to it with an obsessive nature – as if it held some kind of magic.

mad-lines

Ah, the good old days of video analysis

Now, I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater – analyzing the club’s motion in 2D can still hold value for the trained eye.

charles-barkley

You are not going to see this guy on tour anytime soon with that club movement

But the obsessing over minutiae, and the idea that “all you have to do is get the club on plane and the rest will sort itself out” is just bunk.

 

Pitch A Myth

One myth in particular is quite prevalent. It’s the idea that if you have a steep shaft as you start the downswing, you will have a steep impact and/or a left swing path.

Both are not only untrue, but can (and often are) the complete reverse.

Take, for example, this video

We can see that, in the start of the downswing, the club is incredibly steep. Yet,

  • The swing path was 8 degrees to the right
  • The angle of attack was 0 degrees down (level)

In other words, even though the club was steep starting the downswing, by the time it reached impact it was coming from the inside (a hookers pattern), and moving very level through impact – overly shallow (about 4-6 degrees down is a normal 7 iron shot).
This pattern is actually very common – players are steep at the start of the downswing and then the club drops “under” at the last minute. It’s not a very repeatable pattern either, although some greats have managed to have good careers doing it (Nicklaus/Mickelson).

The opposite can be true too.

Take a look at the below video

While the club is much shallower at the start of the downswing, during impact the club was actually moving

  • 8 degrees from out to in (slicers pattern)
  • 8 degrees down on the ball

So, a shallower shaft actually produced a steeper angle of attack and a left swing path.

steep-vs-shallow

This is not to say a steep shaft at the start of the swing automatically produces this impact (or vice versa), but it is just to say we should be careful when assuming that a steep shaft is producing a steep impact, or vice versa.

It can very often be the reverse.

 

True Steepness

I suppose it is more modern to talk about steep or shallow in terms of angle of attack – as this is all the ball knows really.

It’s not that shaft pitch is irrelevant, just that it doesn’t define how steep the club attacks the ball.

Again, angle of attack refers to whether the club is approaching the ball on a very downward angle (steep, or negative), level (shallow) or upward (positive) trajectory.

steep-vs-shallow-aoa

Having an angle of attack that is too steep or shallow can create issues such as

  • an inability to strike irons/hybrids consistently
  • lack of distance with the driver
  • directional issues

The biggest influences on angle of attack are the low point position and clubhead arc-width.

Strike Plan members have access to content which shows you how to improve these factors so that you can hit more functional shots, improve turf contact and hit longer drives.

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3 Comments

  • Steve Ruis

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Too many people are fixated on irrelevant things. Only by hammering away at what is really relevant will progress be made. In the 1950’s a golf coach advocated dumping the up swing. The shot started by placing the club in position “at the top”. (The only purpose of the back swing is to position the club at the top to begin the downswing. And while some claim it is necessary to create good tempo, then why is it also a source of bad tempo? e.g. Hideki Matsuyama) One of this coaches students became quite proficient at this, but soon gave it up because it was just too different (we pick on people who do things differently–Bryson deChambeau–as if they are disrespecting hallowed family traditions).

    Whether that innovation really works (there is some sense to taking the time to be sure that the club is correctly positioned to begin one’s downswing) can only be determined if someone is brave enough (Bryson deChambeau) to try doing it differently.

    So, bravo, my friend. You are making a difference!

    • Rashad

      Steve,

      Could you elaborate on why you believe Matsuyama has a bad tempo, isn’t he one of the best ballstrikers on tour?

  • Matt Virgo

    https://youtu.be/6CQUNgNVCZg

    This video by Jeff Ritter always resonated well with me. For me your articles clearly defines the principles I’ve been incorporating.

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