Poor contact and short, wayward shots naturally result.
The simple way to solve this problem is through the swing's anchor point – the head. Too much swivel or rightward movement allows the body to follow suit.
To combat this, imagine keeping your eyes level with the ground throughout the swing. With your head holding steady in place, the body will rotate around the spine, rather than tilting or swaying.
You'll remain on top of the ball, your weight will transfer properly on the backswing and downswing, and you'll deliver the club with efficient power at impact.
Improve Ball Striking by Keeping Eyes Level
The quality of your ball striking is one of the biggest determining factors when it comes to what kind of scores you can produce on the golf course. It's great to have a good short game and solid course management skills, but there will always be a limit on what you can do based on your ball striking ability. Only golfers who are able to develop all-around ball striking skill – which includes having both distance and accuracy – will be able to continually lower their scores. If you have aspirations of becoming a high-quality player, great ball striking is going to be a requirement.
Unfortunately, ball striking is an incredibly complicated subject, as there are numerous moving parts and other factors to consider within your swing. Indeed, it is possible to spend a life time studying the golf swing without ever completely understanding all of the forces at play. Since the swing takes only a couple of seconds to complete, you don't have time during the swing itself to think about everything that your body needs to do – therefore, you have to be perfectly prepared to execute the swing before the club ever starts in motion.
One of the keys to executing a great swing time after time is making the swing as simple as it can be. Yes, the swing is actually very complicated, but it is important that you work on simplifying it in your mind so that you aren't overwhelmed when the time comes to hit a shot. All of the technical work should have been completed on the practice range prior to ever heading onto the course. Once on the course, the technical thoughts should move away and you should be free to make simple, aggressive golf swing which lead to quality ball striking.
A great way to simplify the swing is to focus on just one key from the time your swing starts until the ball has been sent on its way to the target. Using a single swing thought is a popular technique among professional golfers, as it allows them to leave all of their technical thinking behind while they are on the course. If you have put in the necessary practice time on the range, your swing mechanics should pretty much be on 'auto-pilot' during a round. Therefore, using just one swing key can help you to stay on track while keeping your mind relaxed and focused on the task at hand.
The content below will discuss the idea of using your eye level as the single swing key that you use during your swing. By keeping your eyes level successfully, you can make the golf swing a lot easier – and much more consistent. This is a fundamental that is overlooked by many golfers, but it is important nonetheless. Not only is eye level a key fundamental in a quality golf swing, it is also a simple and defined point that you can use to focus your thoughts prior to hitting a shot.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
Why It Matters
Maintaining your eye level throughout the golf swing is important for a number of reasons. While there are certain 'fundamentals' that actually don't have to be followed in order to play good golf, this is one that you would be wise not to ignore. If you try to hit shots with your eye level moving up and down throughout your swing, it is very unlikely that you will ever reach a satisfactory level of consistency with your game. Nearly every one of the top players in the world is adept at keeping their eye level constant throughout the swing, and you should follow their lead if you wish to improve your game.
Following are three of the most important reasons why you should be concerned with eye level in your golf swing.
- Solid contact. Good ball striking is all about making solid contact with the ball time and time again. The ball should strike the center of the club face as often as possible, because that 'sweet spot' will transfer the maximum amount of energy from the club to the ball. Even the best players in the world don't hit the sweet spot every time, so you shouldn't be expecting perfection – however, you should be able to improve your sweet spot percentage through keeping your eyes level. If your eyes are moving up and down during the swing, the rest of your body will be moving up and down as well. That means the club isn't swinging on a steady plane, and you will need incredible eye-hand coordination in order to achieve a solid strike.
- Maintain rhythm. Keeping a good rhythm in your golf swing is critical to your success, and moving your eyes up and down is only going to make it harder to find a steady tempo. Your swing should be rotational in nature – meaning it is mostly moving to the right in the backswing and to the left in the downswing. If there is too much up and down action to go along with the rotation, your timing will be damaged. This is especially true of the downswing. If you lose your eye level in the downswing by adding flex to your knees and dropping into a squatting position, the rotation of the club will slow down as a result. When that happens, you won't be able to get to impact in time, and the club face will be left wide open when you contact the ball. This is just one example of how your timing can go wrong when you lose your eye level. In order to keep your swing 'on schedule' shot after shot, steady eye level is going to be necessary.
- Unlock your power. It is nearly impossible to hit the ball with your maximum amount of power when you are moving up and down during the swing. As mentioned above, the swing should be all about rotation, and your rotation will be inevitably slowed down by any up and down action that is taking place. Hold your eyes on the same level throughout the swing so you can be free to turn hard through impact without anything holding you back. Power is an important component when it comes to playing good golf, and you will only max out on your power if you can remain level all the way through to your finish.
You may not have given much thought to this golf swing fundamental before now, but it is certainly something that should be on your radar. Maintaining a level position with your eyes from the takeaway through impact and beyond is something that can have a powerful effect on your swing, and on your game as a whole.
Common Trouble Spots
Even though every golf swing is unique, there are some common trouble spots that golfers run into when it comes to losing control of eye level. If you are having trouble with this mechanical part of the game in your own swing, there is a good chance that you are losing your eye level at one of three specific points. Losing eye level at any of these three points will be bad for your swing, so you need to work on correcting this problem no matter where in the swing it happens to be popping up. If you aren't sure where exactly you are going wrong when it comes to eye level, consider recording your swing on video so you can see for yourself exactly when your head is moving up or down.
Following are the three points in the golf swing which are most likely to give you trouble from an eye level perspective.
- The takeaway. Right from the start of the swing, you can go wrong with your eye level if you lose the posture that you worked so hard to create at address. When you stand over the golf ball, you should do so with your knees flexed and your back mostly straight as you lean out over your toes. Building a good address position is a great start, but you need to hold onto it as you begin the swing. Many amateur players stand up out of their posture when the swing begins by straightening the knees and losing the tilt in their spine. If that happens to your swing, you will certainly raise your eye level almost immediately after putting the club in motion. From there, you will need to lower your eye level again somewhere during the swing in order to get back on track – and that is a tough task to execute correctly. During your takeaway, focus on holding your lower body and your back in position nicely so you can be sure your eye level won't get away from you.
- The transition. This is the most likely point in the swing for you to lose your eye level. When you transition from backswing to downswing, you have to be careful to maintain your level if you hope to deliver the club accurately into the ball. Instead of standing up out of the swing, it is more likely to crouch down into your stance during the transition and lower the level of your eyes. Your knees should not gain flex as you start coming into the downswing - if they do, your head will drop and you will run the risk of hitting the ball fat. It is important to keep flex in your knees when you start down, but you have to be careful not to add flex during this phase.
- Impact. The last point in the swing where you will run the risk of losing your eye level is right at impact. Standing up out of your posture just as the club arrives at the ball is a real problem for many players, so you need to be aware of that risk and stay down through the swing. It would be a shame to ruin your good swing right at the last moment, but many players do exactly that be straightening out their knees when impact arrives. The best way to avoid this fate is to continue turning through the shot all the way into your finish. If you can keep turning aggressively through the ball, you won't have time to move up because you will be too busy turning left.
If you are losing your eye level during the golf swing, there is a great chance that the problem can be found at one of the three points listed above. Take some time during an upcoming practice session to evaluate your technique and hopefully you will be able to find the flaw that needs to be corrected. It may take some time to correct the problem that is causing you to lose eye level, but your effort will be rewarded when your ball striking improves dramatically.
Quiet Your Whole Swing
Another one of the nice benefits of maintaining your eye level is that is provides you with a way to quiet down everything that is going on in your swing. Too many moving parts will inevitably lead to inconsistency on the golf course, but it is hard to have very many moving parts in your swing when you keep your eyes on the same level throughout the motion. At first, your swing might feel 'too simple' when you keep your eyes level, but you will learn to love this feeling in time. With a streamlined and simple golf swing, you will be in line to perform with consistency that you have never before experienced.
If you ever watch golf on TV, be sure to notice just how simple the swings look that are used by the professional golfers at the top of the game. Despite being able to hit the ball impressive distances, most pros looks like they are barely putting any effort into the swing at all. That effortless appearance is the envy of most amateur golfers, as the average player feels like they are swinging as hard as possible every time they hit a shot. So how do the pros make it look so easy? A big part of the effortless look is the lack of movement up and down during the golf swing. By keeping their eyes level, most pros are able to make a swing that is beautiful to watch and highly effective at the same time.
It's easy to think that additional movement in your swing will translate into added distance – but that simply isn't the case. You aren't going to gain any swing speed by make unnecessary motions during the swing, so you want to cut out everything that isn't absolutely essential in the swinging of the club. The club will accelerate when it is allowed to lag behind the rest of the body in the downswing, so that is where all of your focus should be when it comes to building power. Moving up and down, or allowing your head to move in a variety of different directions for no reason, is only going to cost you speed – and accuracy at the same time. When it comes to the mechanics of your golf swing, simple is always going to be best.
If you currently have a 'busy' golf swing with a lot of moving parts, you will want to strip down your swing one piece at a time until you are left with only movements that are essential to the swinging action. Again, this is another good reason to use video to watch your swing and make improvements. Spend some time watching your swing over and over again on video until you can spot motions that are really helping you hit the ball. These points may relate to your eye level, or they may not. Either way, if you can take these extra moves out of your swing, improved ball striking should be right around the corner.
In order to make progress toward a simpler swing, it would be smart to spend time during your practice sessions hitting shorter clubs. By using wedges and short irons, you will allow your mind to focus in on the basics of making a good swing while not worrying about developing too much power. Until you can keep your eyes nice and level throughout a short iron swing, there is no point in moving on to the driver. Once you feel like your head is in a steady position and you are holding your level nicely when hitting short shots, you can gradually work your way up through the bag. Patience will serve you well in golf, and that is certainly the case when it comes to simplifying your swing. You need to be willing to make slow and steady progress until you finally are able to make the same kind of simple move with every club in the bag.
Eye Level Counts in the Short Game
Ball striking is a term that is usually associated with the long game, but striking the ball cleanly is just as important when it comes to the short game. Whether you are chipping or pitching the ball from around the green, you need to focus on your eye level in order to consistently control your distance and spin. If you have trouble with making good contact on your short shots, there is a good chance that a loss of eye level is to blame.
The reasons for losing eye level in the short game are completely different than those that affect players in the long game. With full swings, it is typically a mechanical error that leads to a change in eye level. With the short game, it is almost always a mental mistake. Most golfers who have trouble on this point struggle for the same reason – they get nervous and 'flinch' right before impact. As the chip or pitch swing starts to move forward toward the ball, you may get a little worried about the result, so you look up early to see where the ball is going. When you look up, your eye level comes up, and the club comes along for the ride. In just a split second, you will have ruined your technique and you will likely miss-hit the shot.
You probably already know what this kind of shot feels like. Even players who are good in the short game will miss-hit the ball from time to time, and it is usually because they looked up early. Make a point of keeping your eyes down on the ball throughout your chipping or pitching swing, so that you actually see the ball contact the face of the club. Once you have seen impact, you can feel free to look up and see where the ball is going. This technique will be easy to achieve in the practice area, but it will be far more difficult to execute on the course. When the nerves start to play a role in your shots, you will have to really focus in on your technique in order to maintain your eye level.
The good news is that holding your eye level will give you a chance to hit great short game shots on a consistent basis. Most players make the short game much harder than it is, so focusing on a steady eye level is a great way to limit your mistakes and save strokes during each and every round.
Eye level is a key fundamental in golf, even if it isn't talked about as much as things like grip and stance. Once you are set in your address position, you should work hard throughout your swing to keep your eyes as level and steady as possible. If you move your head all around during the swing, you will only be making the game harder than it needs to be. Use the content above to improve your eye level consistency and better golf should be the outcome.