What is early extension?
Stopping early extension in the golf swing is paramount to hitting the ball better. This swing fault plagues millions of golfers worldwide. Basically, picture an imaginary line on your backside when you address the ball. Then as you make your ill-fated downswing, your posterior comes off that line. When this happens, your torso in turn, moves away from the ball. Thanks to this “move” a myriad of poor shots will soon follow. Heel shots, mishits, topping it, skulls, “hosel rockets” (aka shanks) and any number of undesirable results. Along with extreme inconsistency. This is early extension. As you’ll see me regrettably demonstrate below:
There are many descriptions of this malady. Some more “PC” than others. Here’s a list of some of the better-known terms for this swing fault:
- Loss of tush line
- Loss of/not maintaining spine angle
- posterior pelvic tilt
- “goat hump”
Call it whatever you like, but I know from extensive experience that it’s not something we want.
Why does it happen?
Why is the earth round? Why is bacon so good? (’cause it’s bad for you?) Where’s Hoffa buried? Enigmas, mysteries. Now teaching pros can give you all sorts of reasons for loss of tush line. “You’re losing your spine angle, you didn’t rotate properly, you didn’t shift your weight, you stood up through it…..blah blah …..” My explanation is a bit different. We’re trying to propel a small round object, sometimes great distances, with basically a crooked stick. The natural inclination is to just “hit the ball”. In doing what comes naturally, that gets us off that sacred imaginary line. We are sliding forward in the downswing instead of rotating. The task of “trying to hit” leads to this result. That’s my idea of it, in the plainest of language I can write.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of instructional tips and videos attempting to address this. Some of them are terrific explanations. Anyone that has tried to fix this problem has no doubt used the “set up a chair on your tush line” drill. While it does give an idea of where the derriere should be throughout the swing, for me it never fixed the issue. Whenever I tried to add speed to the swing, off the line I’d come. I went so far as to build from scratch a device that would keep my head in place. Thousands of swings later on my device, still the same goat hump.
Rotation. Rotation is king. Along with a technical term, anterior pelvic tilt(APT).
Also to be added is right lateral bend(RLB). If you have no RLB you will not reach the ball. The best players throughout history had these things. Along with the sacrum moving away from the target. What?? That’s what I said when I first heard these things. Basically, your body can be in one of two positions at impact, anterior or posterior pelvic tilt(PPT). Anterior is what we’re after.
It’s the little arch in your back. In my years of flailing at the ball, I’d have severe PPT instead of APT. Not good. What about the sacrum? Well, in spite of all I was ever taught in the past, it should move away from the target throughout your downswing. “Shift your weight”- not sure how many times I was told this. Thousands. And to an extent, its true. But it’s not the entire truth. You do need to get your weight to your left side (right handed golfer). But it can be done without a “shift”. It’s a planting of the lead heel with the sacrum moving away. Rotation. The best ballstrikers in history have had this move in common.
In the photo above, you can clearly see this movement being performed by none other than Sam Snead. 82 PGA tour victories. 7 Majors. Often considered the best swinger of the club in the history of the game. I’ll never hit it like him. Not that good of an athlete, nor do I have his flexibility. But at least I know what he was doing, and it is a move I can try to copy. 20+ years of golf lessons, and I’d never even heard of this.
Andre Van Staden, respected teaching pro out of New Zealand, gives us an example of APT/PPT:
Shifting or Sliding?
So why is sliding bad? We naturally want to get our weight to the left (right handed golfer) when trying to hit the ball. It helps us in generating more swing speed. But it’s a slippery slope. Excessive slide will inhibit rotation. That’s never good. It will cause us to stall out and lose our tush line. Compounding those problems (as if they weren’t enough!), we’ll “flip” at the ball.
Here’s Kelvin again, discussing weight shift:
This is not for the faint of heart. Serious effort will be required to make this type of change. My journey is still ongoing, but I’ve made great strides to implementing these moves. The old cliche applies here – if it were easy everybody would be doing it. But it’s definitely worth it. More consistency and more authoritative golf shots? Yes I’ll take a heaping helping of both, please. The thing is, I’ve tried everything else. Nothing worked before. Better understanding of anatomy and how it should work in the golf swing has aided me on this journey. Hopefully, these ideas will resonate and help you to “stop the hump”! As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed. In no way have I covered all the bases here, just sketched some broad strokes. Ideally I’ve provided with you of a better understanding of what early extension is and how you can correct it. If you’d like to really delve deep into this topic, visit my friend Kelvin Miyahira.Follow: