Head Position In The Golf Swing: Here’s What It Should Be Doing

We’ve all been told to keep our head down at some point; it’s a classic tip from one beginner to another. However, keeping your head down is only the beginning and, on its own, is not enough information to produce a consistent golf swing. 

The head position in the golf swing needs to be understood to allow the rest of your swing to operate optimally. So much is written about the grip, spine angle, and feet width, yet many experts avoid the topic of head position. While it might not be popular, it’s vital to a consistent and successful swing. 

Today we will cover the following:

  • Finding the Best Head Position in The Golf Swing
  • Benefits of Correct Head Position
  • 3 Tips For Great Head Position
  • Head Position During And After The Swing
  • Most Common Head Position Mistakes
  • 3 Drills to Maintain Perfect Head Position in the Golf Swing

Let’s swing into it!

Head position in the golf swing

Finding the Best Head Position in The Golf Swing

Your pre-shot routine should include a head check. Even the slightest miscue can throw off your entire day. It’s a crucial part of your overall posture and will help set a positive tone for the rest of your body, easily getting into the correct positions. 

If this is your first time addressing the head position, I recommend establishing a benchmark head position. To do this, select the club you are most comfortable with and optimize your head position with that one club first, preferably a wedge or short iron.  

Your head position changes in relation to the ball for each club. Where your head is for a driver setup is much different than for your 9-iron. But we can find consistency with a few key points that provide cues for you to hit the right position every time.  

golfer swinging golf club with head in the correct position

Benefits of Correct Head Position

Since your head position affects so many aspects of your swing, there are many core and long-term benefits that make working on your head position well worth it. 

  • Improves ball contact consistency
  • Helps achieve optimal trajectory
  • Encourages steady tempo
  • Allows body to operate freely and reduce muscle strain
  • Improves all aspects of your game, from wedges to woods to the driver

You Have Great Head Position If You Do These 3 Things

With your favorite club in hand, use a mirror to check that your head is checking off these three things;

1. Head Slightly Behind The Ball

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but the key aspect of this tip is the “slightly” part. To find where “slightly behind the ball” is, use a wedge and line up the ball in the middle of your stance; you should be looking at the ball with your left eye. Then, transfer that same feeling directly to your driver setup so you can feel the ‘slight’ difference. 

golfer swinging golf club with head in the correct position

2. Chin Up

Many amateurs don’t notice that when they try to focus hard, they end up burying their chin in their chest and intensely glaring at the ball. This tightens their whole body and causes massive disruption in tempo. Maintain separation between your chest and chin by looking out the bottom of your eyes. This allows your torso to effortlessly rotate back and through. 


The golf swing is an athletic move; with strength and flexibility, great power and speed are produced. There are a lot of fast-moving, small parts, but despite all this movement, your head should remain still. Use it as an anchor to ensure no other part of your swing is over-exerted.  

golfer swinging golf club with head in the correct position

Head Position During the Golf Swing

You should only initiate your swing if your head is in the most correct and comfortable position. Once you start your swing, your head should not move until after ball contact, so where you’re head starts is where it will be at impact. 

Use this to your advantage and focus on what position you want to be in at impact, then work your swing backward from there. You see, many pre-shot routines use a variation of this by making small waggles just before starting their swing.  

Keeping your head still will increase your odds of striking the ball more solidly, more often.  

golfer swinging golf club with head position in the golf swing correctly

Head Position After Impact

Your head stays still from the moment your takeaway starts until the moment you make contact with the ball. Ideally, your head should remain still for a split second after hitting the ball to ensure consistency, which may cause strain in less flexible golfers. 

As long as your head movement in the golf swing follows your clubhead, you are in the correct position. Those who turn their head toward the target before the club is released will encourage the dreaded topped golf shot, which is not cool.  

Most Common Head Position Mistakes

No matter what, you have a tendency to make one of these mistakes; it’s ok. All we have to do is identify which one you are so we can avoid it with a proper pre-shot routine. 

Head Dropping—To produce more power, many golfers will drop their heads during their downswing. This causes many chunked shots as the club bottoms out before getting to the ball. This is often identified by the chin not being up in the pre-shot posture and/or tension in the forearms and shoulders. 

Head Lifting—A proper golf posture is not natural and, for beginners, can be a little uncomfortable at first. Therefore, once the swing starts, their head can instinctually lift to return to a more comfortable position. Overcoming this error will cause a huge improvement in ball striking and improved contact out of any lie. 

Head Swaying—The golf swing generates power through rotational effort, not back-and-forth momentum. Many golfers find great head position in their setup and posture but then spoil it by shifting laterally away from the ball; this forces you to try and re-position your head during the swing. Of all the mistakes, this one causes the most havoc.   

golfer swinging golf club with head position in the golf swing correctly

3 Drills to Maintain Perfect Head Position in the Golf Swing

Get used to performing these regularly. They also make great warm-up drills to ensure proper positions and smooth tempo before each round. 

Drill #1: Tape & Mirror

  • Face a full-length mirror and ensure you have room to swing (either inside or outside).
  • Put a small piece of colored tape on the mirror where your forehead/hairline is while in your posture. 
  • Practice your takeaway, backswing, and downswing while keeping the piece of tape in the same place on your forehead. 
golfer swinging golf club with head position in the golf swing correctly

Drill #2: Sun & Shadow

  • When at the driving range, position yourself so your shadow is on the ground directly in front of you. 
  • Place a ball in the middle of your head shadow to mark its place. 
  • Take swings while looking at the ball to ensure your head does not move until after you’ve passed impact. 

Drill #3: Golf Club & Friend

  • Enlist the help of a pal and find a place to make full swings.
  • While standing face to face, you assume your golf posture while your pal stands in front of you at a club’s length away. 
  • Your pal will hold the grip of a golf club on the top of your head while you swing without agitating it. 
  • Hopefully, your friend will have a steady hand and can help you identify whether your drop, raise, or sway your head. 
golfer preparing to take shot, adjusting head position correctly

Best Pros To Watch For Inspiration

We may never be as good as the pros we watch on TV, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. 

Next time you’re watching golf on the couch, take note of each player’s head and where it is in relation to something in the background. Use a tree branch, cloud, or horizon to note where their head is at the beginning of their swing compared to where it is at impact. If you’re watching them on TV, chances are you won’t see much head movement. 

Watch these players especially;

  • Rory McIlroy
  • Jordan Spieth
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick
  • Patrick Cantlay
  • Hideki Matsuyama

For comparison, watch these players who are notorious for head movement. Try not to mimic these swings, as they are exceptions to the rule;

  • Bubba Watson
  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Matthew Wolff
golfer looking down the fairway after driving the ball off the golf tee

Wrap-Up: Optimal Head Position In The Golf Swing

Having great head position in the golf swing is something many people think they already have but are often mistaken. Getting the correct setup is only half the battle, as ensuring it stays in position is the other half. 

Keeping your head slightly behind the ball is key but goes hand in hand with being comfortable and having your chin up.

Hitting all the vital aspects of correct head positioning will encourage greater consistency and lower scores. 

Don’t overlook this relatively easy task that could ruin your score. Check your head position now and keep working on it for at least 5 minutes every time you hit the course. You’re ball striking will improve almost instantly. 

Next Up: How To Drive A Golf Ball: A Beginner’s Guide To Driving The Ball

Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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