August 2011 

The Big Three


The three most common golf swing flaws and the injuries they will cause (if they haven't already)


By Chris Vogt - July, 2007

Titleist Performance Institute

As experts in the relationship between the body and the golf swing, we see what we refer to as THE BIG THREE swing flaws that lead to injuries in golfers. The Reverse Spine Angle, Chicken Winging, and Early Extension are the three most common swing flaws in average golfers, and there is a myriad of back and elbow issues which can accompany them. The biggest reason for these faults isn't the fact that the golfer doesn't know what to do (we all have a million thoughts in our heads during the swing, either from lessons or articles, most of them are actually right..), or because their clubs are old & inadequate (raise your hand if you buy the latest and greatest equipment EVERY year, but still hit it all over the course). The main reason for the flaws is much simpler than you think, it's because the average golfers' body can't physically move the way it needs to move to swing the club correctly and hit the ball where they want it to go.


Reverse Spine Angle is # 1 injury inducing swing fault. It occurs when the body bends backwards and/or laterally to the left (right handed player) in the backswing. This swing fault makes it very difficult to start the downswing in the proper sequence, due to the lower body being placed in a position that limits its ability to initiate the downswing. If the lower body can't start the downswing, then the upper body is forced to, creating swing path problems and limited power output. This swing fault puts excessive tension on the lower back due to the forced inhibition of the abs, causing BACK PAIN.


Chicken Winging is the # 2 injury inducing swing fault. It occurs when there is a loss of extension or breakdown of the lead elbow through the impact area. This swing fault makes it very difficult to develop speed or power and tends to put excessive force on the outside of the elbow joint. If you're suffering from high, weak shots, or you tend to develop tennis elbow on your lead side, you probably have a chicken wing in your swing.


Early Extension is the #3 injury inducing swing fault. It occurs when the hips and pelvis move closer to the ball on the downswing. This causes the upper body to lift up in order to maintain balance. The lower body doesn't easily rotate through impact, instead it pushes forward and the person stands up. Players complain of being stuck, or trapped with their arms on the downswing. This is due to the fact that their hips have moved into the place where their arms are supposed to go. The result is a block or a hook as the hands desperately try to deliver the clubhead to the ball (flip), and more BACK PAIN.


Here's the odd thing. These three swing flaws have eerily similar body issues that cause them. The inability to separate the lower and upper body movements, poor internal hip rotation (both legs), and poor core strength, flexibility, and coordination all work together to cause a swing with sequence, posture, and path issues. Improper sequence and posture cause the Reverse Spine Angle and Early Extension, both of which lead to path problems that cause Chicken Winging.


If you're hearing yourself describe your game as "Consistently Inconsistent", you feel like you should be "Hitting it farther", or you're playing in pain, buying a new driver that makes the ball turn one way or the other is NOT the answer. The answer to more consistency and distance is fixing the problem at it's source. Invest a little time, energy, and your hard earned money into yourself, get screened to find your body problems, work with a Golf Fitness Expert to fix those issues, and you'll play better, more consistent golf with less pain.