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My Angle on Spine Angle
By Erika Larkin on 4/11/14
In my last column, I talked about the importance of having the correct spine tilt (side bend). Today, we explore spine angle (forward bend).

On average, PGA tour players have 30-40 degrees of forward flexion of their spine down towards the ball. Good posture and correct spine angle is important because it allows us to swing down at the ball with an acceptable angle of attack, while keeping the club on-plane.
  • If you have too much spine angle (bent over too much), you would have to swing on a flatter plane to avoid digging in the dirt on the downswing. This position often makes people feel out-of-balance during — and at the end of — their swing with too much weight on their toes and hands low. So, if you are taking a step out at the finish, take a look to see if you are not too bent-over at address.

  • If your spine angle is too small (standing too tall), you would have to swing on a steeper (more vertical) plane to avoid whiffing the ball. This position often makes golfers bend their knees a lot to sit down to the ball. That puts too much weight in their heels — a double whammy.

Test your spine angle: Stand in your normal posture with a club shaft held across your shoulders/chest. Make a backswing turn, then stay there. Notice the angle of the golf club. This represents your shoulder plane.

If you are turning in your posture and your shoulders are angled too flat or too steep, you may not be in an ideal position. Try adjusting your shoulder angle so that your shoulders are pointed just beyond the golf ball you are addressing. This will help you adjust your spine angle accordingly, since our shoulders usually tell us where the spine is.

Bonus note: Students often ask me if they are standing too close or too far from the ball. My answer is this: If you set your posture and spine angle properly, find your balance with soft knees (not too bent) and hang your arms. That is a good indication of where you should be gripping the club and that will set the distance from the ball naturally for whatever club you are holding.


Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she is SkyGolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics — including instruction — so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!


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