How Should your Shoulders Be at Impact? Open or Closed
There has certainly been a lot of controversy concerning ‘where the shoulders should be at impact’! Over the course of my golf career, there were some instructors that told me that the ‘Hips should be slightly open and the shoulders should be parallel to the target line at impact’. However, after having studied hundreds of Tour Players and Great Players over the years, there was No Doubt that the overwhelming majority of tour players clearly had their shoulders OPEN to the target at impact.
Studies by such organizations such as The Titleist Performance Institute proved this by placing a 3D marker on Thoracic Vertebrae #3, and at impact, Tour Players had their shoulders Open on average from 18 degrees up to 40 degrees. The majority of high handicappers didn’t have anywhere near that much Upper Torso Rotation at Impact – and Through the Ball.
Upon studying this even closer, the reality is that because the Shoulders are closed to the target approximately 90 degrees at the top of their swings, they remain closed until around half way down—THEN, the explode through the ball. I found it interesting when my associate at TPI, Dr. Tom House, The Great Baseball Pitching Coach, told me that he wanted his pitcher’s shoulders to remain closed UNTIL THEIR LEFT FOOT hit the ground on the delivery—THEN, they couldn’t open them fast enough!! (This again got me thinking. Because in golf, our left foot is already planted on the ground (or slightly lifted), it would make sense that we golfers will start to feel the shoulders turning SOONER from the top than a baseball pitcher would. Remember, from the top of the backswing to Impact only takes around 2/10 – 3/10 of a second, so we don’t have to wait as long from the top to start our rotation. I will say though, that because we do have a weight shift, there still should be a slight delay when starting down before you begin Rotating the Shoulders through the shot.
A great drill to feel this is to take your address position, and place a golf club behind your shoulders, holding it with each hand. Then practice Rotating your shoulders back and through and you’ll begin feeling correct Shoulder Rotation.
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