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By: Rick Hendershot..

In the most recent issue of Golf Digest (June 2007) there is a detailed description of what is called the "Stack and Tilt" swing. This golf swing is being promoted by golf coaches Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett.

In describing the Stack and Tilt swing, Peter Morrice, the author of the article, indulges in a bit of overstatement when he says "Their secret...contradicts almost everything being taught in the game today." But is this swing really that unique?

The Biggest Difference

The most important difference with the "Stack and Tilt" swing is the way it encourages golfers to keep their weight forward - on their front foot during the entire swing. Stack and Tilt does away with the normal "weight shift" concept during the different parts of the swing. With Stack and Tilt the golfer starts with about 60% of her weight on the front foot, and presses even more weight towards the front when taking the club back.

Some older golfers will think this looks like a "reverse pivot" where the golfer seems to be leaning towards the target at the top of the swing. Teachers of the typical modern swing have their golf students draw the club back and stack their weight over their back leg when the club hits the top of the swing. But Stack and Tilt encourages the golfer to lean towards the target while the club is taken up.

Some Subtle Differences

For many golfers it may be hard to spot the differences at first, but there are some significant ones. For one thing with the typical modern swing the back leg remains bent with a slight flex at the knee. With the Stack and Tilt the back leg straightens out. The photos featured in the Golf Digest article (p.122) demonstrate how the back leg straightens out as it pushes back towards the target.

As a result the front side of the body is "stacked" over the front foot, and the trailing side of the body is "tilted" towards the target.

Compare this with a more typical modern swing demonstrated in the photo of V.J. Singh's swing on page 43 of the same issue of Golf Digest. At the top of his swing Singh's upper body is "stacked" over his back leg, and his torso is (more or less) perpendicular to the ground - not angled towards the target as with the Stack and Tilt swing.

Lessons from the Past

If you are familiar with the teachings of most modern golf coaches this may sound like a radical departure from golf orthodoxy. But the fact is, there have always been alternative schools of thought which questioned the simplistic "weight shift" idea. In particular, look at old photos of Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan or Sam Snead. None of these golfers make the major shift over the back leg like you see with Tiger Woods, for instance.

Or look closely at the famous teaching videos produced by Bobby Jones in the 1930s. He does not shift his weight to the back. Nor does he shift it to the front. He remains centered over the ball throughout the swing with his focus on rotation around the center point rather than the lateral weight shift advocated with the typical modern swing.

Can This Stack and Tilt Help the Average Golfer?

There are several interesting points made by the the Stack and Tilt advocates which may help the average golfer hit the golf ball more squarely and (perhaps) more powerfully.

The first is the idea of keeping your weight on your front foot. Shifting one's weight to the back inevitably promotes a shallower swing at the same time as turning the ball into a moving target. This increases the chances of bottoming out too early. Depending on the golfer and the course conditions this can either result in fat shots or thin ones. Pressing into the front foot as you take the club back is a good way to force a steeper approach to the ball and a way to eliminate topping the ball. It also results in a lower trajectory since it results in de-lofting the club face. Unfortunately it also puts more strain on the front knee.

The second has to do with the position of the back elbow and the flatter swing advocated by the Stack and Tilt teachers. A flatter swing is a more rotational one, and in advocating a more rotational movement the Stack and Tilt theory has something in common with other "alternative" swing concepts like the Single Plane Swing recently adopted by Tiger Woods (compliments of Hank Haney.) I'm not sure why a flatter, rounder swing is essential to the Stack and Tilt swing, but I suspect it has to do with the relative difficulty of getting the club going when you have your weight forward. In the jargon of some teachers this weight forward position is what might be called an "unathletic" one. So the idea is to maximize club head speed by taking advantage of the rotation of the torso.

The third point is the not-much-discussed idea of the "pelvic thrust" which the Stack and Tilt guys claim is necessary in order to get the club approaching the ball correctly. With Stack and Tilt, since one's weight and shoulder position are forward, the approach to the ball will be significantly steeper than normal. The pelvic thrust helps to "shallow out" the swing. You achieve this by whipping your hips around and thrusting your lead hip up and towards the target. In other words you have the sensation of jumping up and striking the ball while on your toes. For examples of this see photos of Natalie Golbus or Sergio Garcia, or a younger Gary Player.

If these seem like technical points that are beyond your level of expertise, just give the "weight forward" idea a try. All you have to do is start with noticeably more weight on your front foot, and then press into that foot as you take the club up. You will probably find that it feels quite different from what you are used to. This move should result in fewer thin hits. But it may also result in more pushes, especially with the longer clubs, so you may have to adjust the positioning of the ball. You may also find it more physically taxing - requiring more body contortions - and for most of us that is not a good thing.

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Rick Hendershot blogs about golf, exotic and not so exotic golf destinations, and the golf swing. Read his blogs called The Weekend Golfer and Have Golf Will Travel.
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