Swing Faults and Fixes - Week 5

By Katherine RobertsFebruary 1, 2007, 5:00 pm
Reverse Spine Angle
This week during the Buick Invitational, one of the television golf analysts evaluated Tigers swing, specifically mentioning his ability to control his spine angle at address. The analyst continued by describing how Tigers spine angle tilts slightly to the right at impact but for most of the dynamic phase of the golf swing Tigers spine angle is consistent.
For many amateurs this a challenge. An inconsistent spine angle causes many issues but primarily this inability creates the swing flaw known as a Reverse spine angle.
We define this condition as when the upper body bends backwards or bends laterally during the backswing phase of the swing sequence. When my students come to Scottsdale to work with me, I evaluate them physically as well as their swing mechanics with their PGA professional. (If you are interested in our pro evaluating your swing and putting you on a golf specific fitness program send me an e-mail and we will get your program started). I can usually predict an incidence of low back pain simply by identifying a reverse pivot in their video swing analysis.
Here are a few physical fixes for the reverse spine angle:
1. Work on increasing flexibility in the trunk, allowing the shoulders to rotate separately from the hips and increasing rotation in the lower body. Gaining more flexibility in these areas eliminates lateral or side bending.
2. The ability to turn your hips, specifically the right internal hip rotation (for right handed golfers) is critical in fixing a reverse spine angle.
3. Lastly, building the core strength to support your spine angle and reduce the risk of lumbar spine injury is advantageous.
If you are one of the lucky golfers who does not have a reverse spine angle I suggest you incorporate these yoga postures into your regular fitness routine. These poses will enhance your ability to turn, maintain a consistent spine angle and strengthen the core!
Lets get started!
Trunk flexibility

Katherine Roberts Katherine Roberts

Supine spinal twist with yoga blocks:
Place the arms perpendicular to the body, heels next to the buttocks and right leg crossed over left. Maintain a connection of the shoulders with the floor. Inhale and allow the legs to fall to the left. Exhale and bring the legs back to the starting position. Repeat this dynamic twist ten times and then hold for one minute. Switch sides and repeat.
TIP: Use the yoga blocks under the knees if your knees do not touch the floor.
Lat and shoulder flexibility with increased extension

Katherine Roberts Katherine Roberts

Revolving side angle pose:
Place the left leg forward with the knee placed directly over the ankle. Pull the navel towards the spine and bring the right arm to the outside of the left knee. Bring the right elbow to the outside of the left knee. Inhale deeply, pull the navel towards the spine, bring the palms together and lift out of the right shoulder. Focus on the stretch in the lats. Hold for five to ten breaths and switch sides.
TIP: Maintain distance between your right ear and right shoulder.
Hip flexibility (specifically internal hip rotators)

Katherine Roberts Katherine Roberts

Katherine Roberts

Quad / hip flexor stretch:
The Sanskrit (the language of yoga) this pose is called Virasana, meaning Hero pose. This is a very deep stretch for the hip flexors and quads.
TIP: Pay close attention to protecting the knees by placing a rolled up towel behind the knees and yoga blocks and towels under the buttocks. Additionally focus on tucking the pelvis under, internally rotating the pelvis so the stretch is in the hips and not a strain on the lumbar spine. Additionally this is a stretch for the top of the foot and ankle.
With the knees together sit back onto your yoga blocks or towels. With the support of your hands placed behind your back slightly lift the hips off the blocks, tuck the pelvis under and hold for three breaths. Repeat three to five repetitions.
Frog Pose

Katherine Roberts

Love this stretch for the adductors, inner thighs!
TIP: If your knees are sensitive, place an extra towel under your knees.
Separate the knees as wide as possible, pull the navel towards the spine to protect the lumbar spine and bring the elbows down to the towels or floor. Relax the neck and hold for ten breaths.
Breathe deeply in the pose, focus on allowing your body to sink deeper in the pose with each exhalation.
Core strength

Katherine Roberts Katherine Roberts

Yoga/ Pilates core strengthener with Golf Gym Balance ball:
Place the yoga block between the legs, the Golf Gym Balance ball between the hands, slightly above shoulder height. Squeeze the block and ball, retracting the shoulder, eyes focus just above the ball. Inhale, pull the navel towards the spine and articulate the upper body towards the floor. Focus on tucking the ribcage towards the hip bone. On the exhalation, roll back to the starting position. Repeat twenty times.
TIP: If you feel any strain in your neck, slightly tuck your chin towards the chest.
See you Monday nights on The Turn!
Related Links:
  • Katherine Roberts Article Archive
  • Katherine Roberts Video Archive
  • Health & Fitness Main Page

    Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has over 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at Katherine@YogaForGolfers.com or visit www.YogaForGolfers.com.
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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

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    Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

    “You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

    The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

    “He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

    But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

    And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

    It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

    That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.

    “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

    It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

    McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk.

    “I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

    It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

    “I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

    A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

    Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.


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    Own history, grow the game with Open memorabilia auction

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Get a piece of history and help grow the game, that's what The Open is offering with its memorabilia auction.

    The official Open Memorabilia site features unique Open assets from famous venues and Champion Golfers of the Year. All net proceeds received by The R&A from this project will be invested to support the game for future generations, including encouraging women’s, junior and family golf, on the promotion and progression of the sport in emerging golf nations and on coaching and development.

    Items for auction include limited edition prints of Champion Golfers of the Year, signed championship pin flags and limited edition historical program covers. Memorable scorecard reproductions and caddie bibs are also available to bid for on the website, with all items featuring branded, serialized holograms for authenticity.

    Click here to own your piece of history and to get more information on the auction.