Weight Shift In The Golf Swing (Overview)

There are different approaches and instructional methods.  The key is at impact you want your pressure to be 80% to 90% on the front side and pushing up off the ground to generate the most speed possible in your swing.  If your weight gets caught too far back you will struggle with quality contact.

Ever feel like you are caught in the middle during your golf swing?

Do you struggle to get enough weight on your front side to allow you to compress the ball?

Do you ever feel confused about how to shift your weight in the golf swing?

One of the greatest struggles that high handicap golfers have is with their weight shift.  As a result, the contact is usually poor, they lose speed and there is very little compression of the golf ball.

There is really only one position in the golf swing that matters and that is the impact position. 

Without a quality impact position, everything else just goes out the window and you have to over rely on the timing in your hands and hope that you have quality tempo and timing that day.

However, there are some great drills to help you control the bottom of your swing through the weight shift in the golf swing.

If you have ever felt confused on how to exactly shift your weight it may be due to the different methods and philosophy that exists about the weight shift in the golf swing.

Update: As we learn more about the swing, we see a shift in using ground forces in the golf swing. This includes not only a weight shift, but the weight moving a bit up and down vs. just back and through.

A full turn will help with the weight shift. Make sure you check out our final recommendation below.

Proper Way to Shift Weight In The Golf Swing

Below, I will dive into the following topics:
  • Misconceptions about weight shift in the golf swing
  • Instructional approaches on weight shift in today’s golf world
  • Drills to ensure quality contact and proper weight shift
  • How to measure your swing
  • Final Verdict: Recommendation

Misconceptions about weight shift in the golf swing?

I spent many practice sessions as a junior golfer trying to work on my weight shift.  I was told this would help generate more power and speed.  The teaching at the time was all about the X Factor and creating separation between your lower body and upper body. 

Jim McClain was the leader of the back.  This approach encourage the golfer to maintain flex in the back leg, keep the hips quiet and make a big shoulder turn. 

The thought was that this would generate a lot of speed.  The goal was to load up on that flexed back leg and push off to help generate the speed.

Learn more about the proper hip rotation in the golf swing

Myth #1: You have to load up on your back leg

The Stack and Tilt Instructors were some of the first to prove this wrong.  In fact, they taught to keep 60% of your weight on your front side and actually increase during your backswing. 

At impact, a golfer would then have 90-95% of the weight on the front leg.  While one does not have to follow this swing approach 100% there are elements in the weight shift that were brought to light and helped proved some of the bad instruction of the 1990’s wrong.

Should you head move in the swing? Check out our post here

Myth #2: Keep your back leg flexed

Another horrible teaching during this time.  If you actually study the videos of the greatest golfers of all time, you will find that a higher percentage of the golfers actually straighten and extend their back leg. 

You can still have a weight transfer and pressure shift with the back leg straightening in the backswing.

Myth #3: Not shifting 80% of your weight to the back leg will result in a reverse pivot

This is untrue as well.  The golfer can start with 55% on the front leg at address, increase this weight in the backswing and still get to 95% on the front foot at impact.  It actually can create some impressive ball contact without having to rely on perfect timing in the golf swing.

All three shift their weight slightly different from each other, but all end up in great impact positions.

Fundamentals in the Golf Swing

At the end of the day, once again it is all about ball contact.  These are the three fundamentals that the Stack and Tilt instructors presented and that I believe are truly the basics of the game.

  • The first fundamental is the golfer’s ability to control the bottom of the golf swing.  The best golfers will hit the ground in the intended spot, close to 100% of the time.
  • The second fundamental is the golfer’s ability to control the curve of the golf ball. The best golfers are able to start the ball to the right or left of the target line and have the ball curve towards the target without the ball over curving past the target.
  • The third fundamental is the golfer’s ability to have enough power to play the golf course.  This means they are able to hit the ball far enough to play the course in regulation.

Post on how to stop chunking the ball, here

They explained that among the greatest golfers of all time there were different grips and different aim points. The fundamentals in golf are not grip, and alignment.  Ben Hogan played with a weak grip, while Lee Trevino had a strong grip.  Lee Trevino and Fred Couples aimed way to the right, while Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer aimed well to the right.

However, if we focus on the first fundamental it brings us back to the weight shift in the golf swing.  If the golfer cannot control where the weight is at impact, they will struggle to have consistent ball contact and compress the golf ball. 

Also the start line and controlling the curve as presented in fundamental #2 will be an issue as well.

Instructional approaches on weight shift in today’s golf world

Some of the golf instructors that I respect the most and believe are great for the game of golf include George Gankas, Shawn Clement, and Mike Malaska.  Below I will help you better understand their approach to the weight shift in the golf swing.

George Gankas

He spends a ton of time working on the movement in the legs in the golf swing.  While a comprehensive teacher who is simply amazing and has an excellent resume, what stands him apart from others is the ability to teach the movement of the lower body. 

Follow my review of the Gankas membership site and my journey.

You will often see a full turn with the head centered, a squat, turn, and push up to drive the ball with power and consistency.  

Here is a video on George Gankas teaching the weight shift:

Shawn Clement

An instructor that is awesome at helping golfers who are tired of chasing positions.  His target focused approach, which relies on natural movements used in other sports and allow gravity to take over can be refreshing. 

Full Shawn Clement Review here.

If you want his swing closely he make a full turn back and a full turn through.  The back leg straightens and there is a full release through the golf swing.  The lower body moves naturally and there isn’t anything force.

Here is a video on Shawn Clement discussing weight shift:

Mike Malaska

Maybe the best communicator of all online instructors that can be found on the internet.  He simplifies the golf swing after years of frustrating in his own game trying to chase the bad instruction of the past. 

Full Mike Malaska Review here.

I love his simple approach to the game and the thought or feel to utilize the hands and directing the momentum.  

Here is Mike Malaska discussing weight shift:

Drills to ensure quality contact and proper weight shift

Drill #1: Low Point Control

As we know from fundamental #1 we must be able to control the low point.  Go ahead and complete this drill and assess your current level.

  • Take yard paint and paint a 1-2 yard long line.
  • Place a foam golf ball on the line.
  • Swing and hit the foam golf ball.
  • How many times out of 20, does your divot start on the target side of the line

The best golfers will do this 20 out of 20 times.  The high handicap player will see a great dispersion on where the club first hits the ground.

If you struggle with this drill initially, go ahead and place 60% of the weight on your front side at address and keep the weight there and move it slightly forward on the down swing. 

Golfers struggle with the weight shift, also struggle with low point control.  Moving the weight forward is a simple drill to help with this weight shift control.

Repetitions with drills are keys. Make sure you invest the time. Check out how to maximize your practice sessions below by measuring your results.

Drill #2: Half Swings, Stay Back

Here is another drill I love.  At the driving range, go ahead and set up a ball.  

  • Behind the ball you are going to hit, place another ball about 12-24 inches behind that ball on an inside path.  
  • Go ahead and find your impact position.  
  • Move the club back to the ball behind the ball you are hitting.  
  • Make a slight backswing and keep your head back, but weight forward.
  • This will help you feel the impact position and where your weight and head should be at impact.

This drill is great for the person that slides the hips too far and gets too far out front.  This results in letting go of your lag early and throwing your angles. 

Your swing then becomes reliant on timing and you lose some speed due to potential stalling in your swing.

How to measure your swing

We have to have a way to measure what is best for our swings.  With the different philosophies that exist, I would recommend diving into one of the instructional approaches and then measuring the impact on your swing.

The great thing about golf in today’s era is that golfers have access to some wonderful technology that can allow them to experiment and figure out what is best for their game.  I highly recommend a launch monitor to help you measure what amount of hip rotation is best for your game.

In today’s golf world, the access to affordable launch monitors is a complete game changer.  Not only can one help you set up you experiment with different swings and philosophies, but it can also help you map your bag by knowing the distance you carry each club. 

One could try out the different methods of instruction found above and use the launch monitor to measure for success.  Some areas you will want to monitor include:

  • Start line consistency
  • Amount of side spin
  • Ball speed
  • Carry distance

A Launch Monitor is a great addition to your practice sessions even beyond determining what hip movement is best for your game.  

Stop guessing on your ball and club data and get the immediate feedback that you need to improve your game.  Club selection and the makeup of your bag is often overlooked by many amateurs.

The professional golfers of today all have access to some great technology including launch monitors to help measure their swing and know their numbers.  Can an amateur use this same or similar technology for game improvement?  

Yes, absolutely and I would highly recommend it.  

Even if you aren’t going to go all out and build an indoor golf simulator like I did (see below), you can still pick up a launch monitor at a reasonable price and use it in your indoor net or taking to the course or driving range with you!  

Knowing numbers like spin rate, ball speed, spin axis and other key information is vital to your growth.  Sharing these numbers with your instructor can be helpful and help with equipment selection as well. 

This will help you select the right clubs for your bag and when to add that extra hybrid or wedge.

I would recommend one of the three launch monitors listed below:

Final Verdict: Recommendation

Understand that the quickest way to improve is to understand the actual correct movements.  I believe most golfers need to get out of their mind the mindset of this massive weight shift. 

If you are making a complete turn with your shoulder and hips and allow your back leg to straighten, the transfer of the weight and pressure will take place.  It is not something you have to think about and try to make happen.

All three of the instructors highlighted above are awesome and their methods can be helpful to most golfers out there. 

I believe that George Gankas and his leg movement and overall approach to the game is difficult to beat. 

If you are a senior golfer Mike Malaska is phenomenal for all age, but especially those that want to play efficient, quality golf.  Shawn Clement has a unique approach and is great for someone that is tired of trying to hit certain positions in the golf swing.

I wish I had access to these instructors as a junior golfer and we were constantly told to turn against our hips and load up 80% on the back leg.  This just led to slow, inconsistent swings.

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  

I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day. 

I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

SkyTrak golf simulator…the perfect blend of practice and play! Maximize your time and your practice opportunities! Quality feedback and challenging courses!

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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