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Monday, March 30, 2009

Understanding the Stack and Tilt Golf Swing

Stack And Tilt Golf Swing~Understanding the Stack and Tilt Golf Swing

In a recent issue of Golf Digest (June 2007) a “new” golf swing has been described as the hottest thing on the PGA tour, and its proponents, Andy Plummer and Mike Bennet, have been hailed as the newest golf gurus. The new swing is called the “Stack and Tilt” swing.

In describing the Stack and Tilt swing, Peter Morrice, the author of the article, indulges in a bit of overstatement when he says “Their secret…contradicts almost everything being taught in the game today.” But is this swing really that unique?

The Key Difference

The major difference with the “Stack and Tilt” swing is that it encourages the golfer to keep his weight on his or her front foot during the entire swing. In other words, it does away with the idea that there should be a “weight shift” during the backswing. With the Stack and Tilt swing the golfer starts with about 60% of his or her weight on the front foot, and actually shifts more weight to the front when taking the club back.

Some older golfers will think this looks like a “reverse pivot” where the golfer seems to be leaning towards the target at the top of the swing. Teachers of the typical modern swing have their golf students draw the club back and stack their weight over their back leg when the club hits the top of the swing. But Stack and Tilt encourages the golfer to lean towards the target while the club is taken up.

Subtle Differences

It may be hard for many golfers to spot the differences at first, but some of these differences are significant. For one thing teachers of the typical modern swing want the back leg to remain slightly flexed at the knee. But with the Stack and Tilt swing the back leg straightens out as it pushes back towards the target. See the photos featured in the Golf Digest article on page 122.

As a result the front side of the body is “stacked” over the front foot, and the trailing side of the body is “tilted” towards the target.

For a comparison with the typical modern swing look at photos of Tiger’s swing of the last few years, or see the photo of V.J. Singh’s swing on page 43 of the same issue of Golf Digest. Singh’s upper body is “stacked” over his back leg at the top of the swing, and the trailing side of his torso is perpendicular to the ground as he pushes his weight back over his back leg. This is quite different from the way the torso is angled towards the target with the Stack and Tilt swing.

Lessons from the Past

If you are familiar with the teachings of most modern golf coaches this may sound like a radical departure from golf orthodoxy. But the fact is, there have always been alternative schools of thought which questioned the simplistic “weight shift” idea. In particular, look at old photos of Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan or Sam Snead. None of these golfers make the major shift over the back leg like you see with Tiger Woods, for instance.

Or look closely at the famous 1930s teaching videos featuring Bobby Jones. He does not shift his weight to the back either. He remains centered over the ball throughout the swing and has a much more obvious focus on rotation around the center point rather than the lateral weight shift promoted by most well known modern teachers.

Points of Interest

There are several interesting points made by the the Stack and Tilt advocates which may help the average golfer hit the golf ball more squarely and (perhaps) more powerfully.

The first is the idea of keeping your weight on your front foot. Shifting one’s weight to the back inevitably promotes a shallower swing at the same time as turning the ball into a moving target. This increases the chances of bottoming out too early. Depending on the golfer and the course conditions this can either result in fat shots or thin ones. Pressing into the front foot as you take the club back is a good way to force a steeper approach to the ball and a way to eliminate topping the ball. It also results in a lower trajectory since it results in de-lofting the club face. Unfortunately it also puts more strain on the front knee.

The second point is that Stack and Tilt promotes a flatter swing. A flatter swing is less vertical and more rotational, and is the way Stack and Tilt compensates for being more on top of the ball when the downswing is begun.

The third point is the not-much-discussed idea of the “pelvic thrust” which the Stack and Tilt guys claim is necessary in order to get the club approaching the ball correctly. With Stack and Tilt, since one’s weight and shoulder position are forward, the approach to the ball will be significantly steeper than normal. The pelvic thrust helps to “shallow out” the swing. You achieve this by whipping your hips around and thrusting your lead hip up and towards the target. In other words you have the sensation of jumping up and striking the ball while on your toes. For examples of this see photos of Natalie Golbus or Sergio Garcia, or a younger Gary Player.Bold

If these seem like technical points that are beyond youBoldr level of expertise, just give the “weight forward” idea a try. All you have to do is start witBoldBoldh noticeably more weight on your front foot, and then press into that foot as you take the club up. You will probably find that it feels quite different from what you are used to. This move should result in fewer thin hits. But it may also result in more pushes, especially with the longer clubs, so you may have to adjust the positioning of the ball. You may also find it more physically taxing - requiring more body contortions - and for most of us that is not a good thing.

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Stack And Tilt Golf Swing~Understanding the Stack and Tilt Golf Swing

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