If you’re not happy with your scores this season, check your shoulder turn. That’s what helped pull me out of a long period of indifferent golf. During one particular range session, I identified a flaw in my downswing: I was dipping my right shoulder coming into impact, which caused me to fall back with my upper body. I realised that when my shoulder plane stayed the same in relation to my spine as I swung back and through, everything else – arms, hands, clubhead – would fall into a foolproof groove. In short, I discovered my secret to better golf.
To feel this, copy what I’m doing here (above). Start at address with your upper body tilted towards an imaginary ball. Then hold your driver across your shoulders and mimic the backswing and through-swing (below). The club represents shoulder plane.
You want to make sure that your shoulder plane stays the same throughout the motion. It should be perpendicular to your spine. Turn your shoulders this way when it comes time to actually hit shots, and you’ll return the club consistently to the same impact position. Now you’ve got the secret.
Sam Snead said you don’t make the same swing with every club because the amount of spine tilt (how much your upper body bends forward) changes based on the length of the club. Your spine angle will be tilted down more when swinging shorter clubs. That’s why it’s important to keep your shoulder plane perpendicular to that tilt instead of turning your shoulders at the same angle for every club.
– Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Playing Editor.