With the Phil and Brady vs Tiger and Peyton matchup quickly approaching, many golf fans will be watching Phil Mickelson try to “hit bombs”. Phil is one of many Tour Pros that sets up with his back shoulder much lower than his lead shoulder when hitting a driver. You can clearly see it in this video:
If Phil does it, should you as well? Is dropping your back shoulder a way to hit your driver better and further?
Understand that almost every single Tour Pro drops their back shoulder during setup. While it may not be as pronounced as Phil’s, it is definitely a part of their routine. It is much easier to return to the ball in the place you started from. The best drivers of the golf ball feel like they are hitting up. Hell, the best ball strikers feel like they are hitting up on the ball; even with their wedges and short irons.
It stands to reason that if your shoulder is going to be down at impact, it should be down on your setup. This image shows you Phil’s full swing sequence:
Notice how low his back shoulder is at setup and throughout the entire swing. Here is a secret for you, your back shoulder should not move at all in the golf swing. Look closely at Phil’s back shoulder from take away all the way to impact. It does not move. You may make the argument Phil isn’t playing all that well and he has been inconsistent with his driver much of his career. My rebuttal is this guy named Brooks:
Once again, look at Brooks’ shoulder from set up all the way through impact. It does not move. So, why aren’t you able to keep your back shoulder down all the way to the top of the backswing and through impact.
Amateurs’ Back Shoulder
If you are reading this article, you have tried to keep your back shoulder down with your driver and have found little success. Let me guess, you hit the ground before the ball or you end up hitting a huge slice. Some may even hit a huge hook. You may have tried to hit an entire bucket or stack at the range only to find it is not consistent.
There are even some that may find consistency but there is little to no power. Here is the issue. You are using your hands and arms to swing the golf club rather than your core. It has taken me 20 months and over 120 lessons to understand how to use the core to create the backswing. If you are not using your lower left obliques to start the swing and keeping your lower right obliques very tense and pulled towards your ribs to finish the backswing, you are not turning your body.
No, you cannot do this right now. You may put down your iPhone or laptop and pick up a club and try it. You cannot do it. It takes months and months of training the muscles in your core to not only create the backswing but to generate power. These muscles have never been used in the way that Tour Pros use them. You have likely used your hands and arms to lift the golf club your entire life so you are not going to be able to simply engage the core and create a full shoulder turn on your backswing.
Power Comes From the Core
Tour Pros are able to keep their back shoulder down because they start the golf swing with their lower left obliques (for a right hander). As the take away starts, the left lat drivers the upper body deep in the backswing while the lower right obliques feel a sense of pulling into the belly button. This allows for a huge shoulder turn. You may have played with some guys that look like they are not getting the club very far back at all yet they kill the ball.
Understand that the depth of the club only matters when it is in relation to the center of your chest. If you are getting the club deep with your hands and arms, you are not turning your chest which will make you flip the club at impact. Tour Pros keep their back shoulder down all the way back and then all the way through the downswing and do not flip at impact. In fact, Tour Pros do not release the club until well after impact. Most amateurs release the club as soon as they start their transition from the top of the backswing to the downswing.
There are no quick fixes in the golf swing. If you want to be able to keep your back shoulder down and in the same place throughout the entire swing, you are going to have to learn to use your core to create the backswing and generate power. I gave up playing rounds of golf for 20 months in an attempt to learn how to truly hit the golf ball like a Tour Pro. If you are taking a lesson and immediately going out to the course to play 9 or 18 holes, it is going to take you five to 10 years to learn how to turn with the core and create a shoulder turn.
Most amateurs simply have to accept that their upper body is going to have a lot of movement in the golf swing. If you are pulling or lifting the club with your arms, there is no way to keep your upper body stable. The reason Tour Pros have a stable body is by using their core to create the backswing.
In conclusion, keeping the back shoulder down at setup does generate more power and distance with not only the driver, but with every club. Unfortunately, amateurs will never be able to do this because they use their hands and arms way too much in the golf swing.