The weight shift (also known as weight transfer) is widely acknowledged as a fundamental part of a good golf swing. According to Chuck Quinton, a successful golf instructor based in Florida, 14.4% more club head speed is added with correct weight shift. This will have a significant effect on performance. Being longer off the tee by this much will leave a shorter club when approaching the green, so instead of being 175-200 yards away, you may now be 125-150 yards. The nearer you are to the hole after your drive, the more likely you are to be closer after your second. And again, the nearer you are before taking your 3rd, the more like you are to get it in the hole or leave a ‘tap in’ for your 4th.
Adam Scott, who is currently leading the PGA tour for earnings this season, when 175-200 yards has an average proximity to the hole of 24 feet 9 inches after his approach shot and is tied second in accuracy from this distance. When you get to the 125-150 yard mark the proximity becomes, for Adam Scott, 16 feet 6 inches, 3rd on tour. Okay so 9 feet doesn’t seem that much different but it can increase the amount of putts you hole, the more you hole, the lower the scores.
Ernie Els who is top of the putting charts from 20-25 feet has a conversion rate of 25%. He is only 3rd best from the shorter distance but his conversion rate from 15-20 feet is 36%. 11% more putts made. After the longer tee shot and the second shot that has left the ball lying closer, the chances of making bogey (one over par) has diminished and there is a lot more chance of making a birdie (one under par) which can only lead to better scores. Put that into account over the standard 4 round competitions and assume it comes up only on the par 4s, which is around 10 of the 18 holes. Then there will be 3 birdies made per round instead of 2. That’s 4 shots per competition, which will be a massive difference in standings and earning. Again 1 shot per round doesn’t seem a lot but it’s the difference of this seasons current points leader Adam Scott and 45th place Jhonattan Vegas. Or money wise Adam Scott’s seasons earnings of $4,362,198 versus Jhonattan Vegas’ $535,612.
What are the mechanics of the weight shift?
The weight shift is simply the transfer of body weight from one foot to the other during the golf swing. Initially, as the club is drawn away, weight is partially shifted onto the right side as internal rotation of the right hip occurs. The amount of weight shifted varies from player to player and some players use a different technique called ‘stack and tilt’ which means no shift to the right, however a very high percentage of professionals will start by loading their right side.
When the golfer reaches the top of his or her back swing, and in some cases slightly before, almost all of their weight will start to be shifted to the left side to initiate the downswing and the left hip joint will have moved from an externally rotated position into an internally rotated position as the golfer uncoils their spine. Intrinsically, if we have a leg length discrepancy, we can struggle with this fundamental of the swing. A functionally longer right leg can make it harder to shift our weight to the right during the back swing. Not only that, if your body is compensating by creating a scoliotic spine, then your facet joints can have difficulty in rotating easily, so we have noticed that the spine tends to side bend towards the hole to gap the facet joints and allow easier rotation – this can lead to a more upright swing. This changes the swing plane, club path and angle of attack and consequently the flight of the ball.
A functionally longer left leg can make it difficult to get their weight back onto their left where they need to be for solid and well timed impact, and we have noticed that it can also cause them to lean their torso to the right in order to enable easier rotation of the spine. This changes the swing plane, club path and angle of attack and consequently the flight of the ball.
Another factor that will effect weight shift is if they cannot internally rotate either of their hip joints. This may reduce the normal weight shift and we have noticed that players sometimes slide their hips forwards instead, taking away the need for the rotation element. Also, with the golfers’ head needing to stay central over the ball and the hips moving over the left side on the downswing, the left quadratus lumborum would have to be functioning correctly. This should make it evident that having biomechanical dysfunctions can be inhibiting distance and therefore scores as well as affecting technique and therefore consistency. At the highest level of the sport, improving a players’ biomechanics may only improve their scores by one or two shots over an event or even a season but those shots can mean millions of dollars in earnings. The lower the standard of golf, the more that golfers struggle with consistency and distance and therefor their need for biomechanical correction is still there and have a greater effect on performance.