“Keep your head down,” said GOLF.com reader Jason Cunningham. “Worst advice anyone can ever give another golfer.”
A chorus of others agreed with that sentiment, and so do GOLF Top 100 Teachers. They voted “keeping your head down” as the worst piece of golf advice.
What makes the idea so bad? Because keeping your head down makes sense in theory, but doesn’t work in practice, teachers say. Golfers can over-exaggerate it, and end up staying down so severely that they stop turning through the shot. Reading Bobby Jones’ legendary On Golf instruction book, Jones agreed, naming it one of the most damaging pieces of golf advice.
Some simple, timeless advice from Bobby Jones.
"The average golfer would be a lot better off if no one had ever said anything about the necessity for keeping the eyes glued upon the ball." pic.twitter.com/0CpTgoO78l
— LKD (@LukeKerrDineen)
“The average golfer would be a lot better off,” he said. “If no one had ever said anything about the necessity for keeping the eyes glued upon the ball.”
“When a person begins to think about keeping his head immovable and concentrates upon keeping his eye fixed upon the ball, trouble is being invited. The very act of trying to do something that is unnatural to do sets up a tension that is hard to break…when a man gazes fixedly at a golf ball, he is doing something wholly unnecessary and destructive of the rhythm and relaxation he has striven for.”
Jones’ swing thought: Keep your right arm down
Instead, Jones says your head should stay “practically stationary,” but encourages it to move subtly toward your trail leg on the backswing. He writes that instead of thinking of keeping your head down, he uses another swing thought:
“I always think of it as staying down to the ball with your right side and arm,” he writes. “The most common cause of head lifting can be found in the right side. Whenever the right side and arm fails in holding the player down, the head is forced to move early.”
So don’t keep your head down. Think of keeping your right side, and arm, down. It’s a swing thought from one of the greats — and one that might actually work.
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Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.
An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.