The Perfect Golf Swing: Keep Your Head Down!

Keep your head down to maintain alignment during your swing.
Keep your head down to maintain alignment during your swing.

Head Down!

Perhaps the most common mistake among amateur golfers and newcomers to the game is their propensity to pull their head off of the ball during the course of the swing. In 90% of sports, the adage, "keep your eye on the ball," is a relative standard. Golf is no different. Today, we'll talk a little bit about how pulling the head negatively affects the swing, and a tip you can use to ensure that your swing doesn't fall victim to this nasty habit.

You have to see it to hit it!

The first reason you'll want to keep your eyes focused on the ball until the very moment it makes contact with your club is rather obvious: if you can't see it, you're not going to hit it well.

Many new golfers are tempted to let their eyes follow the take away of their club as it draws back from the ball. If the eyes don't remain firmly planted, however, it's difficult to have them find their place again in time to have full vision of the ball when it matters most- at the point of contact.

The head leads the entire body

More vital than seeing the ball, however, is the monumental importance of keeping your body in line to make clean contact with the ball. Pulling the eyes away from the ball forces the head to follow suit, subsequently drawing the shoulders out of alignment. By this point, not only can you not see the ball, you're so far off that you'll be lucky if you'll mae any kind of contact at all, much less a clean shot.

Most commonly, pulling ones head off the ball forces the golfer to straighten his back, bringing the club up higher. Even the slightest change can negatively affect the swing, preventing you from striking the lower half of the ball for loft and distance.

Try this for practice

Avoiding pulling your head is a matter of building good habits. That means you should use trips to the range to create good muscle memory for the course.

Take a piece of chalk, and make a small mark about one inch behind the ball. This should be your focal point throughout your swing. Force yourself to keep your eyes trained on that point even after you've hit the ball, counting a full three seconds before you allow your eyes to come up and search the horizon for the ball you just hit. Chances are, if you're really keeping your eyes where they are supposed to be, you'll know exactly where your ball ended up, because you'll be able to see the angle at which your ball leaves the tee (or turf) after your club makes contact.

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Comments 21 comments

Vicki 7 years ago

This is a very helpful tip and it works. I pick a blade of grass behind the ball and stare at that. Its amazing how well it keeps you from coming up too soon.

Mark 7 years ago

as a golf professional for over 30 years, this is probably the worst thing you can say to a golfer. You obviously haven't studied the golf swing.

Dale 7 years ago

I'm curious to find out the alternative that golf pro Mark would suggest.

george  7 years ago

hey mark i usnderstand your point but , jack nicklaus said keep your "eye" on the ball with your chin up , 6 years ago

I'll give this a try!

Please don't do this 6 years ago

Please... if you want to ever play golf better... do NOT try to keep your head down in your golf swing. it causes a huge loss of speed, and makes it impossible to follow through by turning your body to the target. Try leading with the handle of your club, keeping your hands ahead of the clubhead.

Bob 6 years ago

To those warning againts this. Relax! This started as saying is intended for amateurs and newcomers to the game. This is an excersice, is basic to keep you head down and training your body and mind to this feel before you attempt a full swing motion, otherwise you will want to "see it fly" before you even learn to make contact. This is a good excersise to begin your training and then focus on the mechanics of the full swing (stance, aligment, backswing, body/wrist turn, release, etc...)

John 6 years ago

For many years I have had trouble with my short chip shots. People have told me that I am coming out of the swing too soon - looking up too early. I didn't try to correct it because I didn't really believe them. That was until I got so tired of trying to fix this problem - and thousands of practice shots later, I got so lazy while practicing that one time I didn't look up immediately to watch the outcome of my shot. That shot happened to be perfect. I then proceeded to hit about 20 perfect chip shots in a row using the old "keep your head down" advice. I was amazed - the lesson learned here was "head down" and "listen to your friends".

Evan 6 years ago


These are not two schools of thought. You can have proper head movement while maintaining a focus on a spot behind the ball after it has been struck. Watch Tiger on youtube :-)

Marty 6 years ago

Keeping you head down is absolutely critical for all shots. I'm a 15 handicap and am learning to keep my eye on the ball; every time I do I'm rewarded with a good shot. I take issue with the professional Mark who says this is bad advice. I recommend that Mark try it sometime.

mark (not the pro) 5 years ago

I did this today and think I found the most important part of my swing that I was missing...much cleaner strikes with the iron and the driver was amazing...I've hit 300 yards before but not like 10 times in a row! I couldn't believe it and did a search about keeping the head down...great advice

jim 5 years ago

so what the heck do u do? I guess what's best for me i know. Another question where do you all look when your going to hit the ball? One person tells me behind and another tells me in front. Which is it?

jeremy 5 years ago

I thinking keeping your head down and eyes on the ball is the key to the golf swing. The best players i have seen keep there heads down the best.

Mark the duffer 5 years ago

It's 5 in the morn. here in Calif. Soon as it's light I'm going to go try this .

Mark ( the pro2 ) 5 years ago

Forcibly keeping ones head down and still is not natural for many players to do! I would like to see the upper body stay in the tilted position throughout the swing! But most amateurs bury the chin in the chest trying to keep their head down and don't make a great fluid swing! Let your head go and swing freely! Any ?s refer to Annika S. Swing!

Laraine 4 years ago

Relised yesterday when I was practising that my eyes were following the clubhead on the backswing. As soon as I started to watch the ball until it was hit, everything fell into place, & the ball striking was very consistent. Have been playing for 12 years, but still learning

Deadlystraight 4 years ago

This guy knew very little if not misunderstanding about swing thought!

Unfortunately, he thinks he know a lot!

Danger 4 years ago

Keeping your head down is a fallacy. While it can be done to produce an effective motion, the fact that the spine is attached to the back of the head and torso, makes it impractical to do so. This is not only bad for your game it is bad for your body. If you are concentrating on”staying down” you will never be able to clear all the way thru the shot.

rdust 4 years ago

Put a tee in your mouth and point it at the ball. Keep pointing the tee at the ball until the follow thru.

Johnny H 3 years ago

Look up Anna Sorensan (sp?) swing. She looks up well before contact is made. She was precise.Same for baseball hitters. They used to tell you in HS to watch the ball hit the bat. You can't very well do it. I believe it was said that Ted Williams looked out where he was going to hit the ball before he actually made contact. You can watch it coming and try to see it hit, but can you see either hitting a golf or baseball.

Cswin 2 years ago

I can tell you if you do not keep your head still and down you will never ever hit a decent shot. You just pause your dvr when any pro golfer stikes the ball and see where his eyes and head is. My 2 cents

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