Discussions about the role of the head in the golf swing tend to focus on the downswing. You know, all that “keep your head down” business?
But what about the backswing? Should the head remain as still as possible over the ball? Should it rotate with the shoulders, or move horizontally away from the ball?
Like every other part of the swing, there’s no single, correct way to move (or not move) the head while taking the club back. This much is true, however: If you keep the head locked in place and your neck tense, you’ll restrict your shoulder turn and hit the ball weakly.
If you’re making a proper backswing turn, it’s practically impossible to prevent the head from a) swiveling a little with your shoulders, and b) moving slightly away from the target, horizontally. In moderation, neither move is a killer.
In fact, a small amount of head movement is necessary to allow the shoulders to coil, and to transfer weight to your right (back) foot. Jack Nicklaus is a great example. One of the Golden Bear’s signature moves was to turn his head to the right, behind the ball, just before starting his takeaway. This enabled Nicklaus to make the enormous pivot that gave him such immense power.
One other key – no matter how much your head swivels or sways, keep your eye on the ball. That’s a pretty critical fundamental.