If you’ve spent much time around the game of golf, watching or playing, you’ve probably heard someone mention spine angle at some point.
It’s a concept that’s often overlooked in the golf swing but provides a solid foundation for you to hit a good shot. Not only that, but it’s difficult to do consistently without thinking about it.
The key word, when it comes to spine angle, is posture. You probably remember your parents or grandparents telling you to sit up straight when you were a kid. If you’re like me, you were told this often, but never given an explanation as to why you should sit up straight.
Or maybe, you have a desk job now and have noticed yourself hunching over your keyboard for long hours. In golf, the same concept applies as well. Maintaining a good spine angle is both good for your long-term health and immediate success.
What Does Maintaining Your Spine Angle Mean?
First of all, let’s talk about what maintaining your spine angle means. If you really break down the phrase, it means exactly what it says, but also a little more. Your spine angle is the angle that your spine creates with the ground.
If you had someone take a photo or a video of your golf swing from a down-the-line position, you could draw a line down your back and on the ground and that would form a “V” that is your spine angle.
Setting Up With a Good Spine Angle
That’s not all there is to maintaining a spine angle though. Before you can measure the spine angle, you need to have a spine angle at setup. Many amateur golfer will hunch over the golf ball with their back rounded rather than straight. In order to maintain your spine angle, your back has to be fairly straight at address and throughout the swing. We’ll talk more about how to do that in a little bit.
Keeping the Spine Angle
Maintaining your spine angle means that the angle that you’ve created at setup between your back and the ground stays the same until after impact. A lot of issues in the golf swing comes from golfers who increase or decrease that angle in the backswing and downswing. When someone does that, it makes it difficult to return to the same angle at impact and make solid contact.
So, just to wrap that up, maintaining your spine angle means that the angle created between your straight back and the ground at setup stays the same throughout the swing until after impact has occurred. If you’re able to do that, chances are good that you’ll make solid contact.
Why Is Spine Angle Important In Golf?
In golf, maintaining your spine angle is important because it allows you to swing around your body in a fluid and natural way. There are two images I like to use when helping people swing a golf club; specifically, when it comes to maintaining their spine angle.
The first image is a pendulum. If you can picture a pendulum in your mind, it has a fixed point, a moving point, and is connected by a line that swings back and forth. In order for the moving point to stay on the same path, the fixed point has to stay still.
That fixed point represents your head, or the top of your spine. If you can keep your spine angle the same throughout your swing, your fixed point is, most likely, going to remain fixed and you’ll make solid contact. (There are other factors that impact this, but for now, that’s a helpful generalization.)
The next image that I like to use is a tetherball pole. If you spent much time on a playground as a kid, you’re probably familiar with the game tether ball.
Basically, it’s a vertical pole that has a rope tied to the top. On the end of the rope is a ball, that’s about the size of a basketball. It’s a two-person game and the goal is to hit, or swing, the ball in your direction all the way around the pole, before the other person does in the opposite direction.
Your swing is a lot like a tetherball pole. The pole is your spine, the rope is your arms, and the ball is your club. If your spine (pole) stays in place the whole time, the club (ball) will return to the same place as well.
Maintaining your spine angle is important because it allows you to swing around a centralized point and return the club and your body back to impact. This one move, or lack thereof, allows you to generate power without sacrificing consistency.
It also keeps your back healthy for longer, so you can continue to play the game you love. Swinging a golf club with a hunched back, specifically, will lead to back problems down the road. It also could cause your back to hurt more by the end of a single round of golf as well. Keeping your back straight and still will allow you to play that game you love for longer without hurting.
How Do I Maintain My Spine Angle In The Golf Swing?
Now that you know why it’s important to do it, we need to talk about how to actually maintain your spine angle. To be honest, it’s easier said than done because when we think our back is straight, most of the time it’s not. That being said, there are a couple things you can do to straighten your back and keep it that way throughout your swing.
The Spine Will Never Be Straight
First, we need to admit that your back will never be perfectly straight. Your back naturally curves a little bit. The important thing is to set your back in a way that it’s naturally supposed to be. For example, your lower back curves in towards your belly button.
That cannot and will not be straightened. When we talk about straightening your back, we mainly talking about your upper body and upper back.
- The first move is to take your shoulders and push them backwards. This might feel like you are, almost, pinching your shoulder blades together. Another thing you can think about is pushing your chest out.
- If you’re straightening your back, you’re going to feel like your butt is sticking way out. It’s not, but it’ll feel like it.
The Key to Maintaining the Spine Angle
Now, let’s move on to the “maintain” part of maintaining your spine angle. Once you’ve set your spine angle before the swing, you can almost forget about it.
The important thing to focus on is your head, the top of your spine. Keeping your head still throughout the backswing and downswing, until after impact, is what will be the key to doing it throughout your swing.
The moment your head dips down, raises up, or sways left to right, is when your spine angle is changed.
Imagine you have a book on the top of your head and try to balance it there the whole time.
Drills To Maintain Spine Angle
On to some drills to help you maintain your spine angle. Give these drills a try and you’ll soon be maintaining your straight spine angle throughout your entire golf swing.
Club Down the Back Drill for Spine Angle
The first drill, or check, you can do to make sure your back is straight is to:
- Address the golf ball.
- Take your club, without moving your back, and lay it down your back.
- The club should touch your back in three places; the back of your head, middle of your back (shoulder blades), and tailbone.
- Then, once your back is set, simply move the club back to your hands and hit a few shots.
Because of the natural bend in your back, like we talked about before, those should be the only three places the club touches your back. Feel free to check your back position with this drill every couple swings.
Down-The-Line & Face-On Video
- If possible, draw a line down your back from the down-the-line view and make sure it stays the same throughout the swing.
- On the face-on view, draw a circle around your head and make sure it stays in the circle throughout the entire swing as well.
If you can do both of these things, then you’re well on your way to maintaining a good spine angle.
Finally, the last drill is to practice a slow swing:
- This is a swing that you take about 1-2 minutes to complete.
- Each move is done in extreme slow-motion.
- Focus on your back the entire time. This will help you learn how your body can move around your back with it straight.
Once you get a feel for the movements without hitting a ball and in slow motion, you’ll understand better what that feels like at real-time speed.
Final Thoughts On Spine Angle
One final note, remember that your spine angle can, and should, change after you hit the ball. When you try to maintain your spine angle, this is important for the backswing and downswing. (read our post on Early Extension next)