Establishing good posture at address is a critical element of a sound swing, but it's just a starting point. Posture must be maintained throughout the swing to produce maximum benefit.

Many golfers set up in a balanced, athletic position with proper spine angle. Some even maintain this posture in the backswing and downswing. But too often, golfers undo this positive work by rising up too early. Poor contact ensues.

The next time you watch a professional tournament on TV, pay close attention to slow-motion replays from behind golfers (looking toward the fairway or green). Note the position of the pro's head as he swings to the finish. It's tilted slightly downward, his face turned toward the target, as if his head is resting on a pillow.

Imagine your own head on a pillow as you swing past impact. This requires keeping the head and shoulders level – in other words, holding your posture. The head will naturally rotate toward the target as the right shoulder comes through.

Golf Tip Lay Your Head on the Pillow

Golf Tip Lay Your Head on the Pillow

The position and action of your head is always a major topic of discussion in the golf swing. It seems that many amateurs think they need to keep their head 'still' and 'down' during the swing – which isn't necessarily true. There are certainly some rules you want to follow with regard to how your head behaves while you swing, but sticking with the old advice of 'keeping your head down' is just going to get you into trouble. Instead, you should work to keep your head relatively still while also letting it move when necessary. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have a clear picture of how your head should behave from address all the way through to impact.

As you can see from the title of this article, one of the topics we are going to address is the concept of 'laying your head on the pillow' during the swing. Of course, there is no actual pillow – this is simply a way of thinking about how your head should be positioned. Don't worry about the details of that tip now, as we will get to it once we have worked through some other important points.

Before you get into the details of head positioning that are going to follow in this article, you should first understand that your swing needs to remain athletic and free at all times. Some players, in an effort to stick with the fundamental mechanics of the swing, wind up getting too stiff and rigid. Remember, golf is still a sport, and you need to let your body work naturally if you are going to send the ball off into the distance. This is not a game played by robots – it is played by humans, and humans move around as they swing the club. So, even when trying to keep your head mostly still, don't freeze yourself up so tight that you can't make a free-flowing move through the ball.

Also, remember that there are plenty of other important elements within your golf swing to consider beyond head position. It is a good idea to give this topic some attention during an upcoming practice session, but don't become so obsessed that you fail to work on other parts of your swing. Players who are successful in this game manage to bring together a well-rounded swing without any glaring errors. If you master head positioning only to fall short in other areas, your results will be disappointing. Pay attention to all of the various aspects of your swing, and give them each the attention they deserve during practice. This will be a lot of work, to be sure, but your game will benefit in the long run.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Basic Rules of Head Positioning

Basic Rules of Head Positioning

There is plenty of room for individuality in the golf swing. As you know, every golfer has his or her own way of swinging the club, and those methods can vary dramatically from player to player. This is one of the best things about golf – you don't have to copy the technique of any other golfer. You are free to find your own way to make it work, as long as you stick within the rules of the game.

Of course, even though there is plenty of room for individual technique, there are still some basic fundamentals which you should observe. You wouldn't be breaking any rules if you missed on one or more of these fundamentals, but you would be making the game harder than it needs to be. Below is a list of fundamentals related to head position in the golf swing. You would be wise to do your best to check off all of these boxes within your own technique.

  • Keep your chin away from your chest. This first point is one which is missed by a great number of amateur golfers. When the average golfer takes his or her stance over the ball, they often will push their chin down into their chest. After all – it is best to keep the head down, right? No, it isn't. When you force your head to go down at address, you will be putting your chin in the way of your left shoulder when the swing begins. Without a clear path to rotate away from the target, your shoulder turn will be compromised and your swing will lack power in the end. To avoid making this dreaded mistake, be sure to keep your chin up away from your chest when you settle in to your stance. Your eyes should be looking down at the ball, of course, but there should be space between your chin and chest for your shoulders to pass freely as the swing develops.
  • Don't tilt. Another common mistake with regard to head position is to tilt the head away from the target at address. It isn't clear where this habit came from, but it has made its way into the amateur game over the years. Again, this is a mistake to be avoided. Your head should be straight up and down at address, giving you a great look at the ball and keeping the rest of your body on balance. If you were to tilt your head away from the target, you will be likely to lean right during the swing – and that move could create all sorts of problems.
  • Avoid moving up and down during the swing. As we have pointed out already, it is not necessarily true that you need to keep your head 'still' during the swing. However, you do want to avoid going up and down while swinging the club. These kinds of movements are known as 'changing your level' during the swing, and they will make it difficult to achieve solid contact. If you find that you struggle to hit the ball cleanly time after time, there is a good chance that you are losing your level somewhere along the way. Maintaining a stable head level depends largely on your lower body, so flex your knees at address and maintain that flex until the swing has been completed.

Nothing about the way you should be using your head during the golf swing is particularly complicated or confusing. You need to keep your head relatively still, you need to have your chin up away from your chest, and you shouldn't tilt your head at address. If you are unsure how you are performing on some of these points currently, it would be a good idea to record your swing on video to take a look for yourself. The video will reveal any obvious mistakes you may be making, and it will help you to decide what you should work on moving forward. Since most people have a video camera built right into their cell phones these days, recording a quick video on the driving range should be no problem at all.

About the Pillow

About the Pillow

At this point, we are going to get down to the business of talking about the 'pillow' which was referenced in the title. This imaginary pillow is going to give you a great understanding of how your head should work while the club is moving through the hitting area. If you can rest your head on the imaginary pillow swing after swing, your game should steadily improve as a result.

The action of 'laying your head down' is going to be seen as the club moves through the hitting area. Earlier in the swing, such as during the backswing, you certainly don't want to be laying your head down at all. Rather, you need to keep your head in a vertical position, looking straight down at the ball as it rests on the ground. Keeping your head straight up and down throughout most of the swing is going to help you in a couple of ways. First, it will allow you to maintain a clear view of the ball. This is important, of course, as you need to be able to see the ball if you are going to hit it solidly. Also, keeping your head up and straight will provide room for your shoulders to turn.

You are going to be laying your head on this imaginary pillow when you swing through impact and into the follow through. As your right shoulder moves under your chin, you are going to work to keep your eyes down on the ball for as long as possible. In doing so, you will need to turn your head slightly while the rest of your body keeps rotating toward the target. In the end, your right ear will be near to your right shoulder, and someone viewing your swing from the 'down the line' angle will see that you are laying your head down on an imaginary pillow.

So why is this point important? You want to understand the idea of laying your head down on the pillow because it is going to help you stay down through your shots. Many amateur golfers come up out of their shots early, lifting their head to see where the ball is going to go. This is a serious mistake, and one you can't afford to make if you are going to improve your level of play. You need to stay down all the way through the shot, and thinking about putting your head on the pillow is a great way to stay in the right frame of mind. With no early lift, the club will chase the ball down the target line and you should be able to control your trajectories nicely.

One of the great things about working on this point is the fact that it will apply across the board from your driver all the way down to your wedges. You always want to stay down through your shots, no matter what club is in your hand or what shot you are trying to hit. The tip technically doesn't apply when the putter is in your hands, but that is the only place where it won't pay off. Otherwise, you should notice your ball striking performance improve all around the course by keeping your right ear down close to your right shoulder as the club moves through impact.

A Combined Effort

A Combined Effort

It is a good idea to focus on the movements of your head when trying to stay down on your shots. After all, if you do lift up with your head, you are sure to pull away from the ball – and the results will not be pretty. However, keeping your head down is not going to be enough all on its own. If you make other mistakes during the swing, you will be certain to come out of the shot, even if you are trying hard to keep your head in position.

The following list includes a few mistakes which you need to be sure to avoid. If these mistakes become a problem, you are going to be pulling out of most of your shots during your next trip out onto the course.

  • Coming up onto your toes. This is a problem which many golfers are not aware of, even if it has been an issue in their game for years. During the downswing, you need to make sure you are keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground, rather than allowing yourself to roll up onto your toes. When you roll up onto your toes, you may feel more powerful – but you will be making it much harder to achieve solid contact. As a right-handed golfer, you should pay attention specifically to your left heel. If you can keep that heel on the ground, you will be in good shape as you rotate through to a full finish.
  • Giving up with your right hand. When your swing is working properly, your right hand should chase the ball down the line as far as possible toward the target. While you don't want your right hand to get involved in the swing too early, there is a point when it should take over the responsibility of moving the club. That point is right before the moment of impact, when your right hand propels the club head through the ball and beyond. Strike through with aggression and feel your right hand and arm 'chasing' the ball as it leaves. When you stay through the shot in this way, your accuracy is sure to improve.
  • Sliding toward the target. This is another common mistake. The downswing should be all about rotation, with lateral movement only coming along as a side effect of a great turn. Sadly, many golfers get this all wrong. Instead of turning through the shot, they slide with their lower body toward the target, losing balance along the way. If you make this mistake, you will have to come up out of your stance just to avoid falling over. Of course, that means you will give up any speed you had created, and you will probably fail to hit the ball cleanly. Forget about any kind of lateral slide in your swing and instead focus on rotation above all else. When you turn properly, many of the rest of the parts of your swing will fall into place.

Even a small mistake can cause a damaging domino effect in your golf swing. When just one thing goes wrong, you could spend the rest of the swing making up for what you have done. Most of the time, those 'makeup moves' are not going to be enough to correct for your error, and your shot will be a failure as a result. As you work on your game, make it a goal to simplify your technique as much as possible. With a simple swing, you will be better prepared to play consistently on the course, and you will hold up better under pressure as well.

Your head positioning does play an important role in your golf swing, but that one fundamental alone cannot save your game. You need to do more than just keep your head in the right spot, including keeping your feet flat in the downswing, chasing the ball with your right hand, and avoiding a slide toward the target. Once you put the entire package together properly, your game will rise to a new level.

Head Positioning in the Short Game

Head Positioning in the Short Game

When it comes to short game shots, you aren't going to have to worry about laying your head on the imaginary pillow. There isn't enough speed in your short game swings to cause your head to move, meaning it can stay relatively still throughout each shot. However, even with that said, there are still a few short game tips related to head position which may help you play your best golf. Consider the points below as you work on your putting, chipping, and bunker play.

  • Nothing happening during the putting stroke. Your head positioning could not be easier when it comes to the putting stroke. You want to get into a comfortable position at address – and you want to keep your head perfectly still throughout the rest of the action. Any movement in your head is going to be transferred into the rest of your body, and you might miss your target line as a result. This point might sound simple, but it can actually be quite difficult to execute. Learn how to hold your head perfectly still as you putt and more and more of your attempts are going to find the bottom of the cup.
  • Keep your chin up in the bunkers. When playing a greenside bunker shot, you need to make a large swing in order to splash the ball out of the bunker and onto the green. In order to make that full swing, you will need a big shoulder turn – which means keeping your chin up away from your chest. If you bury your chin in your chest, your shoulders will be blocked from turning properly, and your swing will lack the speed it needs. Pay attention to this subtle point before starting your swing and make sure you are giving yourself enough room to work.
  • Tilt your head to the right when chipping. When chipping the golf ball onto the green, it helps to have a good look at the target from address. To achieve such a look, and to make sure you stay behind the ball nicely, try tilting your head to the right before starting the swing. This should just be a minor tilt – you don't want to turn your head so far that you are having trouble seeing the ball clearly. Tilt your head just a few degrees to the right while maintaining your balance nicely. With this small adjustment, you should find that popping the ball out of the grass and onto the green suddenly becomes a bit easier.

As you can see, there isn't much that you need to do with your head with regard to the short game. In fact, when it comes to putting, there is nothing at all that needs to be done. However, you should be aware of what your head is doing both before and during these kinds of shots. The short game can easily make or break your score on a given day, so take these points seriously and sharpen up your performance from close range.

The idea of laying your head on an imaginary pillow might seem a bit off the wall at first, but it is actually a sensible golf tip. Think about this concept as you swing through the impact area during your next few visits to the driving range. As long as you are staying down nicely, and the rest of your fundamentals are in order, you should see improved results right away. Good luck!