The 12 Most Common Golf Swing Faults

Introduction

There is not one way to swing a golf club, rather there are an infinite number of swing styles. However, there is one efficient way for every player to swing the club, and this is based on what they can physically do. These physical limitations can of course be improved with the right approach, allowing you to benefit from a healthy and efficient body and swing. 
 
This is the basis of what the Titleist Performance Institute teaches, which is an approach we use at Pro Chiro Spine and Sports Chiropractic here in Walton on the Hill, Surrey. These golf swing faults can not only limit your golfing performance, but they can also make you susceptible to developing injuries. When you know what the faults are, you can also learn how to correct them and therefore how to play golf without pain and injuries.
 
So, without further ado, here are the 12 most common golf swing faults and what you can do to fix them:
 

SWING FAULT NUMBER 1 – C POSTURE.

The first swing fault is called C posture, and is characterised by an increased curve of the upper back during the address position.

In this position, there is a decreased ability to rotate due to decreased mobility of the upper back. This can lead to decreased power and decreased consistency due to a short, lurchy swing.
With this fault, golfers will become prone to neck and shoulder issues. Unfortunately for many golfers a C Posture is caused by a series of muscle imbalances and joint restrictions that are developed over many years.
 
Swing Fault 1 - C posture.
 
This fault can be improved by:
  • Increased awareness of your posture.
  • Strengthening your upper back muscles.
  • Stretching through your chest and lat muscles.
  • Improving the flexibility of your upper back.
The C Posture can also be caused by:
  • Lack of hip hinging, causing the upper body to bend too much at address.
  • Clubs that are top short.
  • Standing too far away from the ball.
  • A grip that is too much in the fingers of both hands.
 

SWING FAULT NUMBER 2 – S POSTURE.

The second swing fault is called S posture, and is characterised by an increased arch in the lower back during the address position.
 
In this position, there is abnormally high stress on the muscles in the lower back, and the abdominal muscles become slightly switched off. This can put the lower body out of position on the downswing and will affect the swings’ sequence of motion.
 
With this fault, golfers will become prone to low back pain.
 
 
Swing Fault 2 - S Posture
 
This fault can be improved by:
  • Increased awareness of your posture.
  • Strengthening your abdominal and gluteal muscles.
  • Stretching through your low back and hip flexors.
  • Improving the flexibility of your upper back.
The S Posture can also be caused by:
  • Too much pelvic tilt at address. This is a misunderstanding of what an athletic setup position is. Instead of pelvic tilting excessively, try hip hinging and keeping the spine in a neutral position.
 

SWING FAULT NUMBER 3 – LOSS OF POSTURE.

This swing fault is called Loss of Posture, and is characterised by any significant alteration from the body’s original setup angles during the golf swing.
 
This fault can affect all aspects of the golf swing including timing, balance and rhythm. The two typical mishits are a block to the right and a hook to the left (for a right handed player). Due to the change in spine angle during the swing, the player becomes over reliant on hand action to square the face, and it becomes a timing – driven swing, which is always inconsistent.
 
With this fault, golfers will become prone to low back pain.
 
Swing Fault 3 - Loss of Posture
 
This fault can be improved by:
  • Improved spine mobility and lat flexibility.
  • Strengthening your core musculature, especially the glutes and abdominal muscles.
  • Good hip and shoulder flexibility.
Loss of Posture can also be caused by:
  • Swing tempo and rhythm can affect the ability to maintain body angles.
  • Improperly fit clubs.
  • An incorrect swing path.
 

SWING FAULT NUMBER 4 – FLAT SHOULDER PLANE.

This swing fault is called Flat Shoulder Plane, and occurs when the shoulders turn on a more horizontal plane than the axis of the original spine angle at setup.
 
A flat shoulder plane causes the club to be put of position on the backswing. This can lead to a change in swing planes and a change in the original spine angle on the downswing, reducing swing efficiency. The player will try and compensate for this with hand or body movement to square the club face. This leads to loss of swing power and an inconsistent ball strike.
 
With this fault, golfers may become prone to neck and shoulder pain. They hand movement required to square the face may also lead to elbow or wrist pain.
 
Swing Fault 4 - Flat Shoulder Plane
 
This fault can be improved by:
  • Improved shoulder and lat flexibility.
  • Increase forward tilt at address.
  • Good ability to separate upper and lower body during the golf swing.
Loss of Posture can also be caused by:
  • Too much arm rotation early during the backswing.
  • Improperly fit clubs.
  • Being too far away from the ball at address.
  • A wrong perception of how the shoulders should move during the backswing.
  • Poor sequencing in the backswing with the hips over rotating early during the backswing.
 

SWING FAULT NUMBER 5 – EARLY EXTENSION.

This swing fault is called Early Extension, and occurs when the hips and spine of a golfer start to go into extension, or straighten up too early in the downswing. This can be seen when the pelvis moves closer to the ball in the downswing.
 
Early Extension causes the upper body to lift up, allowing the golfer to maintain their balance. The lower body does not easily rotate through impact, and instead pushes forward and the golfer stands up. This results in a feeling of being “stuck” or “trapped” with the arms on the downswing. This is because the lower body has moved into the space where the arms need to go. Resulting shots may be blocked or hooked as the golfer is over reliant on hands and arms to deliver the club to ball. Golfers with this fault may also shank some shots as they are closer to the ball at impact than they were at address.
 
With this fault, the hand movement required to square the face may lead to elbow or wrist pain.
 
Swing Fault 5 - Early Extension
 
This fault can be improved by:
  • Improved ability to stabilise the lower body – increased glute and abdominal strength.
  • Good ability to separate upper and lower body during the golf swing.
  • Good hip internal rotation (particularly of the front leg).
Early Extension can also be caused by:
  • Standing too far from the ball.
  • Clubs that are too long.
  • Poor swing path.
 

SWING FAULT NUMBER 6 – OVER-THE-TOP.

This swing fault is called Over The Top and is perhaps the most common characteristic among high handicappers. Usually its related to overuse or over dominance of the upper body during the downswing.
 
As a result of the Over The Top action, the club is thrown outside of the intended swing plane, with the club head approaching the ball in an out to in motion. If the club face is open, this causes a slice, and if the club face is square this causes a pull.
 
With this fault, golfers are robbed of power and lose ability to control the ball flight. The swing path or swing plane needs to be altered, which will create a more solid strike and increase both distance and accuracy.
 
With this fault, golfers will become prone to shoulder injuries in particular due to the excessive usage of upper body muscles.
 
Swing Fault 6 - Over The Top
 
This fault can be improved by:
  • Good ability to separate upper and lower body during the golf swing.
  • Good core stability to help maintain posture and thorax stability.
  • Good balance on each leg. Without this, the lower body won’t be able to generate power during the swing and therefore the upper body will be over dominant.
Over The Top can also be caused by:
  • A weak grip at address.
  • A reverse spine angle swing characteristic.
  • Too much rotation of the club face on the backswing.
  • A poor address position with the shoulders too level or leaning toward the target at address.

SWING FAULT NUMBER 7 – SWAY.

This swing fault is called Sway, and occurs when the lower body moves lateral away from the target during the backswing.

This fault makes it very difficult to develop a proper weight shift during the transition between backswing and downswing. If there is no stable platform to drive their weight off of during transition, golfers will loser power and inadvertently develop speed in an inefficient sequence.

This fault alone doesn’t particularly contribute towards injury, but due to the altered kinematic sequence golfers may start placing excessive load on incorrect muscle groups and develop overuse injuries.

Swing Fault 7 - Sway

This fault can be improved by:

  • Good ability to separate upper and lower body during the golf swing – otherwise the pelvis can’t laterally stabilise while rotating during the backswing.
  • Full right hip internal rotation (for a right handed golfer). If the body can’t rotate around the right hip due to joint or muscular restrictions, lateral movements will dominate the pattern.
  • Good lateral stability of the front leg – strong gluteal musculature.

Sway can also be caused by:

  • A pre existing injury in the hip, knee or ankle.
  • A lack of understanding of proper technique.
  • Ball position that is too far back in the stance.  

SWING FAULT NUMBER 8 – SLIDE.

This swing fault is called Slide, and occurs when the lower body moves laterally towards the target during the downswing.

This fault makes it very difficult to stabilise the lower body during the downswing, which will eventually rob power and speed from the upper body through impact.
The upper body needs a stable lower body to ensure acceleration during the downswing. Once the lower body starts its forward shift into the downswing, its job is to transfer energy to the upper body and provide a stable base for the extreme rotation forces created by the torso, arms and club.
If there is no stable platform, players will lose power and try to develop speed in an inefficient sequence.

This fault can lead to injuries of the lead knee, as there is an excessive amount of force loaded into it due to the excessive lateral movement.

Swing Fault 8 - Slide

This fault can be improved by:

  • Lead hip internal rotation is essential for full rotation of the pelvis without allowing lateral movement to occur. If the body is unable to rotate around the lead hip due to muscular or joint restrictions, lateral movements will dominate the pattern.
  • Good ability to separate the upper body from the lower body.
  • The ability to stabilise the front key during the downswing. This requires proper strength of the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscle groups.

Slide can also be caused by:

  • Poor fitting shoes that don’t give enough support to stabilise the lead leg.
  • Excessive lateral movement away from the ball during the backswing.
  • Ball position that is too far forward in the stance. 

SWING FAULT NUMBER 9 – REVERSE SPINE ANGLE.

This swing fault describes any excessive upper body backward bend or left lateral upper body bend (for a right handed golfer) during the backswing.

This fault makes it difficult to start the downswing in the proper sequence because the lower body is in a position that limits its ability to intitiate the downswing.
The upper body will dominate the swing and will cause path problems and limited power output.

This fault is one of the prime causes of power back pain. This swing position will put excessive tension on the lower back as the abdominal muscles can’t contract correctly in this position.

Swing Fault 9 - Reverse Spine Angle

This fault can be improved by:

  • Trail hip internal rotation is essential for full rotation of the pelvis without allowing lateral movement to occur. If the body is unable to rotate around the trail hip due to muscular or joint restrictions, lateral movements will dominate the pattern.
  • Good upper and lower body separation – this requires good spinal mobility and lat flexibility.
  • Strong core musculature (abs and glutes). The muscles help keep the upper body flexed forward throughout the golf swing, minimising the risk of low back injury.

Reverse spine angle can also be caused by:

  • Improper pelvic side bend at address. If the trail side hip is too high at setup, it can create the Reverse Spine Angle during the backswing.
  • The player trying to keep their head still during the swing.
  • A lack of forearm rotation in the backswing cay cause the golfer to lift the club into a poor position on the backswing. 

SWING FAULT NUMBER 10 – HANGING BACK.

This swing fault describes when a golfer is unable to shift their weight correctly onto the lead leg during the downswing.

Golfers with this fault tend to hang back on their trail leg and spine through impact. This results in a lack of power and an inability to create a consistent strike on the golf ball.
Hanging Back will usually result in premature release of the wrist angles as the player is trying to advance the club with their arms rather than with the correct weight shift and pivot.

This fault might lead to injuries to the trail leg due to the excessive load it takes with this fault.

Swing Fault 10 - Hanging Back

This fault can be improved by:

  • Good strength in the back leg (in particular the glutes, adductor, abdominal muscles). This will allow a correct weight shift to occur.
  • Improved technique and coordination in rotating the hips.
  • Strong stability and mobility of the front leg. Without this, the player will avoid loading into the front side altogether.

This fault can also be caused by:

  • Not enough loft on the driver.
  • Ball positioning that is too far back in a players stance.
  • Reverse Pivot or Reverse Spine Angle can lead to the upper body being out of position. As a result, the golfer sits back to try to get the body back in position.

SWING FAULT NUMBER 11 – CASTING / EARLY RELEASE / SCOOPING.

Casting, Early Release and Scooping all refer to any premature release of the wrist angles during the downswing and through impact.

The angle loss results in a weakened impact position, with the lead wrist being cupped at ball strike.
The angle loss also adds loft to the face of the club, and as a result also adds a loss of power and consistency.

This fault might lead to wrist injuries due to placing the wrists in an inefficient position.

Swing fault 11 - Casting/Scooping/Early Release

This fault can be improved by:

  • Good wrist flexibility. Without this, it will be difficult to set the club and maintain this during the downswing.
  • Great forearm and grip strength.
  • A strong and stable lower body that initiates the sequence of power.

These faults can also be caused by:

  • An Over The Top swing path and open club face.
  • The upper body being too much toward the target so the club has to release early in order to catch up.
  • Reverse Pivot or Reverse Spine Angle swing characteristics.

SWING FAULT NUMBER 12 – CHICKEN WINGING.

Chicken Winging describes a loss of extension or breakdown of the lead elbow through the impact area.

This swing fault makes it difficult to develop speed or power, and tends to put excessive force on the outside of the elbow joint.

This fault often arises due to the presence of elbow pain on the lead arm (tennis elbow).

Swing Fault 12 - Chicken Winging

This fault can be improved by:

  • Lead arm strength and lead shoulder flexibility. The lead arm needs to be able to rotate around the shoulder, so any muscular or joint restrictions will limit this.
  • Improving the swing path. An Over The Top path can lead to Chicken Winging developing.

This fault can also be caused by:

  • A misunderstanding of a proper swing sequence. 

 

Conclusion

Wow that was a lengthy blog. Like I said in the beginning, all golfers are unique and the golf swing that works for me probably wouldn’t work for you. Saying that, this blog went through the 12 most common faults that players make in the golf swing. If you have any of these faults, try fixing them with the advice given. If you’re unsure, get in contact either by email ([email protected]) or by getting in touch over on our Facebook page. 

Recommended Posts