Pure shots feel way different than mis-hits, obviously, but what exactly is the cause of all those bladed shots and weak grounders?
It's probably your shoulders.
Shoulder tilt is the inclination in relationship to the ground. Looking at the illustrations above, if you drew a line across the top of my shoulders, it's the relative angle you'd get. On the left, my shoulders are tilted more toward the ground. On the right, they're nearly parallel to the ground.
Whether you start with decent shoulder tilt and lose it during the swing or never establish it, you make it really hard to keep the bottom of your swing within a consistent range. And when you can't put the bottom of your swing consistently in the same place, you'll struggle to routinely center the clubface on the back of the ball and launch the shot at an ideal trajectory.
To improve your tilt, you first need a frame of reference to establish the correct feel. Get in your stance and hold a club across your chest with the butt end facing your target. Now mimic a backswing. When fully turned, the grip should be angled toward the ground, not level with it. That's good tilt.
“Good players have more shoulder tilt throughout the swing.”
As the data shows (below), there's a significant difference between how much high-handicap players tilt and what tour players do. It's one of the most direct relationships between body position and scoring we've measured from the 90 million swings GolfTEC has collected.
In other words, as the shoulders go, so goes your ball and your handicap. Which means you need to get tilting. — With Matthew Rudy
INCLINED TO PLAY BETTER
▶ Amateurs with Handicap Indexes of 20 or higher average 25 degrees of shoulder tilt at the top of the backswing. Tour players tilt at least 40 percent more. The lesson for you? Get that lead shoulder lower at the top for better contact with the ball.
Zach Lambeck teaches at GolfTEC's headquarters in Englewood, Colo.