Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first, what is a shallow golf swing?
It’s fairly intuitive and the simplest way to picture it is that the golf club will be a lot closer to parallel to the ground on the downswing contrasted to a steep golf swing where the grip end of the golf club would be pointing at the ground.
Picture players like Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa or Rickie Fowler. The golf club is very flat on the downswing with a bowed left wrist (more on that later).
Next question you may ask, why would I want a shallow golf swing?
Well, there are several benefits, the most exciting of which to many golfers will be power.
Put simply a shallower golf swing allows for excellent body rotation. The shallow angle almost allows the club to slingshot round the body using the powerful core muscles to drive the ball forwards.
A helpful visual analogy would be a baseball player swinging the bat around their body to generate the power to hit those home runs and you can do the same to hit longer drives.
Now before I get into the real detail of how to shallow your golf swing a couple of things to note.
A shallow golf swing may not be for everyone. If you suffer from a stiff back you may find that while the extra body rotation sounds appealing, it could also aggravate any lingering injuries.
A shallow golf swing also typically involves a bowed left wrist as I mentioned before so again may make it tricky for any golfers out there with wrist injuries.
My advice, take it slow on the range first. Take some smooth swings over a couple of range sessions to see how you feel before upping the speed and heading out on the course.
So with those slight caveats out of the way let’s see how you can shallow your golf swing and unlock more power and consistency.
How to get a Shallow golf swing
1. Bow those wrists!
The best way to help shallow your swing is to bow your lead wrist, the left wrist for a right-handed golfer with the reverse for a left-handed player.
To get this bowed wrist you need to get the feeling that you’re flexing it downwards as you make the swing down from the top of your backswing.
It should feel as though your lead wrist is pushing flatter and downwards on your trail wrist.
The best way to groove this feeling and understand what it looks like is to start without a golf ball.
Take it very slow and get that feeling of bowing and flattening that lead wrist, slowly transition from the top of your swing and look behind you as you do so looking for that wrist bowing which will create that nice shallow swing.
The key to this is repetition, it’s a hard move to make and many amateur golfers will start with a swing that is too steep with a sharp angle of attack.
This can end up leading to those horrible duff shots so take it slow and really practice that bowing motion before attempting full shots.
Once you feel comfortable and start to get an understanding of how that bowed wrist and shallower swing feels, attempt a few smooth swings with a ball on the range.
Don’t worry if the ball starts off hooking left, that’s just due to the stronger club head created by the shallower swing.
I’ll touch on that more later, but the key for now is to get the repetitions in and understand how that shallower golf swing feels.
That said, if you’re a slicer, the sight of the ball heading left may be a welcome relief and another benefit of having a shallower golf swing!
2. Drive those knees and hips!
I mentioned earlier how a shallower golf swing can generate more power and that’s because to get that shallower swing and make sure the club returns to square at impact we need to really drive those knees and rotate our hips.
Let’s start with the knees:
- As you swing the club down, remembering to keep the wrists nice and bowed you should try to create the sensation that you’re driving your knees downwards and towards your target.
- This should create the feeling that the club is dragging behind you which will help shallow your swing.
- Make some practice swings where you really accentuate that movement and get the feeling that you’re driving that momentum forwards and creating a powerful movement with your legs.
Next, the hips:
- We want to make a similar motion with the hips by aggressively driving them towards the target, this again will help create that dragging feeling as if the club is falling behind you.
- As you make your swing focus on pushing your hips towards the target. A good way to think about this is that if you’re wearing a belt, the buckle should be facing the target when you’re done.
- This requires a bit of flexibility so ensure that you take it slow to start and do a proper warm up.
If you need help understanding this hip move watch a few videos of Collin Morikawa, former Open champion and one of the best ball strikers on the PGA Tour.
He has excellent hip turn through the ball, allowing him to generate significant power and hit the ball closer to the flag.
3. Shift that trail arm in!
The final move that will help you shallow your golf swing is all about the arms.
I touched earlier on the dragging sensation as you shallow the swing, well the final way to really groove this feeling is to push your trail elbow in towards your body as you make the downswing.
To practice this move, make some practice swings where you exaggerate bringing your trail elbow, the right elbow for a right handed player, in towards your body as you swing down.
When you do this move out on the course your elbow won’t quite get this close but it’s helpful when learning to make an exaggerated practice swing, especially if you had a steep golf swing before.
The second feeling you should notice when you bring your trail elbow in is that you will close the gap between your arms.
Make a few practice swings where you look behind you and check to see that your arms are coming closer together on the downswing. This should be a natural part of bringing your trail elbow in.
This motion has a number of key benefits that should help you to strike the golf ball better.
- Firstly, bringing your arms together will make them feel much more connected and working in unison facilitating more consistent strikes.
- Secondly, it will mean that your arms and body are better connected, utilising that powerful body move we created in step two, hopefully leading to increased distance.
This improved connection between body and arms should also improve consistency as all parts of your swing work together.
4. Bring it all together
I’ve organised this coaching into sections as to shallow out your swing it’s much easier to take it in stages, in the order I’ve laid out above.
It may take some time and feel unnatural at first, particularly if you are starting out with a very steep swing but trust in the process.
Work through each step one by one.
You may get some odd outcomes as you work through each stage but as you put each one together you’ll see your swing shallow out and with some practice on the range, improved ball striking and distance.
A few final key reminders before you rush off to the driving range to shallow out that swing. A shallow swing requires a powerful body move so a proper warm up is essential.
Maybe check out some of Miguel Ángel Jiménez’s famous warm up routines, minus the cigar perhaps.
If you feel any discomfort stop where you get to, even if you can only shallow out your swing slightly, it will stop you having too steep an angle of attack which will make for more consistent strikes.
As with any swing change it will feel unnatural at first, especially if you start with a very steep swing which many amateur golfers do have so work through it slowly on the range first before heading out onto the golf course.
If you need some visual guides, I’d recommend watching some videos of Collin Morikawa and Dustin Johnson.
Though they go at it in slightly different ways both are excellent exponents of a shallow golf swing and have had great success using it. Morikawa’s superb hip and body rotation in particular is a great guide to follow.
So, in summary, take these steps and soon you can have a shallower golf swing. You’ll see longer shots and improved distance control thanks to the improved ball striking and will be the envy of all your friends.
You can always tell them where you learnt to do it if you are feeling generous!