Replace Your Pivots

How to shift your game out of reverse

One of the most common problems in the golf swing is the dreaded reverse pivot. This occurs when your upper body tilts toward the target with your weight on the left side (for a right-handed golfer) at the top of your backswing. This results in a tendency to fall away from the target on the forward swing—the reverse of what should happen.

A reverse pivot puts the bottom of the swing arc too far behind the golf ball, causing you to hit the ground behind the ball or hit the top half of the ball as the clubhead is on its way up. A reverse pivot also makes it difficult to swing the club on plane, leading to a too-steep angle of attack and weak pulls or slices.

Don ’t Keep Your Head Down!
Many reverse pivots occur because golfers try to adhere to the time-honored maxim: “Keep your head still during the swing.” Consider this: if you were going to throw a ball, or a hard right with your fist, you wouldn’t keep your head stock-still. You’d turn your upper body over your right leg, allowing your head to move a little to the right as your body weight shifted to your right leg. As you’d move your arm forward, your weight would shift to your left leg, or in the direction of the object you’re swinging—and that’s no different than with a golf club.

The Wall Drill

(Try this exercise to feel the correct upper body pivot)

1. Stand approximately a foot away from a wall (a little farther for long-limbed golfers) with your right shoulder closest to the wall. Without a golf club, get into your golf posture, tilting forward from your hips with arms hanging straight down.

2. Stretch your left arm across your chest, making a level turn with your upper body to the right so you can touch your left hand to the wall. This correct pivoting of your upper body will correctly pull your lower body into position and your head will move a couple of inches to the right. As you reach to touch the wall with your hand, the majority of your weight should be on your right hip and heel.

This drill also teaches you where your hands should be at the top of the swing—about even with your right shoulder with hands and arms in front of your body. Golfers who reverse pivot often have their hands too high and trapped behind their body at the top of the swing.

Once you cure the reverse pivot in the backswing, you’ll often find a proper forward swing will naturally follow. Not only does a good position at the top put you in a powerful striking position, but also is more likely to promote a swing that travels on the correct plane, with the proper path and angle of approach.

Lana Ortega, a Class A member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Division and 2005 LPGA Central Section Teacher of the Year, teaches a wide range of professional and amateur golfers at Colorado Golf Academy at Green Valley Ranch (; 303-574-0775).