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By Donald Crawley, Golf Contributor - Archive - Email
Are you steep or shallow?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Are you steep or shallow?

Yes, we are talking about your golf swing. Unless you have a perfect on plane swing, you are either too steep or too shallow. This is referring to two things; the plane or angle of your swing and the angle of attack, when the club approaches the ball at impact.

Keegan Bradley
Steep Swinger
Let's give you a picture to help you understand. Keegan Bradley has a steep swing. Interpret steep as upright. Rickie Fowler has a flatter or shallower swing plane. Both of them have a level angle of attack; because they are both very talented, and get the club approaching the ball at the correct angle, and are neither steep nor shallow at impact. Unless you are on one of the world PGA Tours, your swing plane is either too steep or too shallow, and your angle of attack will probably follow suit. Although I will challenge that statement later in the article.

A steep or upright swing will give you the following ball flight and impact conditions: high slice drives, pulled irons, deep divots, and the occasional pop fly drive, toe hits, chunked pitches. The irons are usually better than the driver, but you do ok with fairway woods. Can anyone identify? If this is you, then we need to flatten your plane and angle of attack. First change will be Posture.

A steep swing often stems from a 'head down' mentality, causing the chin to be buried in the chest, rounded shoulders and a slumped over curved back posture. Sounds terrible doesn't it? Look in the mirror! Better posture to level your angle; chin up, back straight, tip at the hips, arms hang relaxed. Feel tall. From the correct posture, your shoulders should rotate around your spine. If your shoulders dip or tilt too much in the backswing, you will steepen your swing plane. If you turn around your spine going back you should unwind in the same plane. This will help keep your angle of attack level through impact. Point two: the arm and shaft plane can seriously affect the overall swing plane and angle of attack. Picture word here; if you swing the club straight back like a Ferris wheel, your swing will be on the steep side. Look at the top of your backswing and see where your hands are. Above your head? Too steep! Above your right shoulders? More on plane. Correction thought, is to swing your arms and club up and around on an arc, not a straight line.

A flat or shallow swing gives ball flight of: fat/thin irons, weak distance with irons often high scoopy shots, no divots after the ball. You are better with the driver than irons, push and hook shots, but real dodgy with a wedge in your hands! Hopeless in the sand; hitting way behind or line drives. These are all symptoms of a flat shallow swing.

Ricky Fowler
Shallow Swinger
Correct at address. Keeping back straight but tipped over at the hips until shoulders are over your toes not your thighs. Arms need to hang and hands feel lower at address. The shoulder turn needs to be steeper, not level to the ground. Old clich? works here. ?Turn your left shoulder under your chin'. A picture of a flat swing is a merry go round. Avoid swing the club back too much too the inside or around your body. Feel to swing straighter back both with the arms and club shaft. At the top of the backswing, stop and look in a mirror, or better yet, have your swing filmed. If your hands are behind or below your rear shoulder at the top, your swing is too shallow. Correct this by swinging back straighter and steeper, feeling to get your hands higher and the club shaft pointing to the sky. A great practice drill to feel this is to hit balls with the ball below your feet. Two key triggers are; tip over at the hips; swing as vertical as possible, think up not around.

I had mentioned earlier that often the angle of attack at impact follows suit of the swing plane. Often, but not always. It is possible to be steep in the backswing, but shallow through impact. It is rare but possible to be flat in the backswing but steep through impact. To correctly diagnose your situation, look at your divots at impact. If the divots are deep, your attack is steep. If you can't get a divot or it's behind the ball, your angle is shallow. In order to correct the angle of attack, go back to your posture and backswing swing plane. A great drill to improve impact is the good old simple tee drill. Put a tee in the ground, opposite the middle of your stance. Take practice swings making contact with tee and then the ground. Knock the tee down and out of the ground. Divots should be shallow, but after the ball.

Recently voted Top-10 in Best Teachers in State of Arizona by Golf Digest. Also, contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.

When Scottsdale beckons and golf awaits, a call to Donald Crawley at The Boulders is a must.

Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 35 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs' Golf Schools.

Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002 & 2005, he won the Southwest Section PGA's Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.

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