Golf

Why you *shouldn't* keep your head down, according to a PGA Tour pro

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Focusing on keeping your head down at impact can do more harm than good.
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One of the biggest challenges for new golfers is making solid contact with the ball. The golf swing is a completely foreign movement when you’re just getting started, and it makes learning the fundamentals tough.
One of the most common misses for beginners is a top. They don’t quite stay down on the ball and only make contact with the top half of the ball, sending it low and short. When this happens, it’s all but guaranteed you’ll hear someone say “keep your head down.”
The advice is well-intentioned — and an extremely common refrain — but is it actually good advice? According to PGA Tour pro Erik van Rooyen, trying to keep your head down at impact typically does more harm than good.
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“Most people, when they start out want to look — where the hell is the ball?” van Rooyen says. “And then they end up missing it. So like, make sure you hit the ball, but once you kind of get going, for me, having my head [turn] helps me to rotate through the ball.”
When beginners are told to keep their heads down during the swing, it can have some unintended consequences. One of the biggest, as van Rooyen noted, is a lack of rotation. When you are focusing so hard on keeping your head down, it can cause you to stop rotating your body and forces the arms to get overly involved.
“Keeping you head down is actually going to restrict all the rotation,” he says. “You can’t get through the ball. It’s clanky. It’s not great.”
It’s always important to keep your eyes on the ball so you can make solid contact, but don’t be afraid to let your head rotate as you make your turn. This will help promote proper rotation in your swing, helping you hit more powerful — and solid — shots.

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.
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