Golfers Over 50 Have Too Much Head Movement: Solution 8

Golfers over 50 move their heads more than younger golfers = poor consistency and poor contact with the golf ball .

Many golfers move their head to the side or upwards as they take their backswing. Most golfers can solve this problem with education and some drills but as golfers advance past 50 years old, this deficit becomes more an issue of flexibility than skill.

It is hard enough to hit a golf ball purely, but it is nearly impossible if you cannot keep your head still in your backswing.

Neck Stiffness Limiting Your Golf Swing?

Neck Stiffness Limiting Your Golf Swing?

This has several potential causes:

1) You are raising your shoulders and they are running into your chin (common deficit found in women).

2) Your head is tilted too far downwards and your shoulder is running into your chin on the backswing (as discussed in earlier articles) or

3) Your neck is too stiff (the head need to be able to rotate at least 70 degrees in order to be still in the backswing when you rotate your shoulders).

First, If your are raising your shoulders in your backswing you may have what we call a “merry go round swing.” That is, a swing that is too steep.

This swing is characterized by raising up in the backswing, coming down to the ball at impact, and raising up in the follow through swing. We find this swing fault most often in female golfers (I don’t know why). A steep swing results in a lot of “fat” shots and big divots.

The focus of correcting this swing is to create a flatter swing. If you are having difficulty picturing this swing, a steep swing is like someone swinging an axe down on some wood. A flat swing is more like a baseball swing. Can you picture the difference?

Secondly, we find that excessive head movement in the backswing is that the head is tilted too far down which is usually the result of everyone telling you to “keep your head down” or “keep your head on the ball.” A more correct instruction would be to keep your head still.

You need to raise your chin up just enough to allow your shoulders to rotate cleanly underneath your chin.

The final cause of too much head movement in the backswing is that the golfers neck is too stiff.

In the backswing, the shoulders need to turn underneath the chin which is the same as the neck needs to rotate over the shoulder. This fault is most commonly found in golfers over 50 and becomes worse with age. But lets be clear, “age” is not the primary cause of stiffness. Not using the full range of motion on a regular basis is the cause.

So lets solve the problem.

Fitness Fixes

For golfers over 50, neck stiffness is typically the cause of too much head movement in the golf swing. Improve golf flexibility with this stretch:

Turn your head to the right as far as you can rotate it. Take your right arm and reach across your chest. Use your left arm to pull the right arm further for a good stretch.

Turn your head to the right as far as you can rotate it. Take your right arm and reach across your chest. Use your left arm to pull the right arm further for a good stretch.

Check out this video Increase Golf Swing Speed with This Back swing Fix on my merchant you tube channel.

Pro Fixes

If you have enough neck flexibility and are still moving your head too much, there are 2 drills that you should practice. Remember, you don’t want to keep your head perfectly still, just limit the motion as much as possible.

Drill#1: On Your Own
You can do this drill at home without a golf club. Face the wall, and setup into your golf address position.

Fold your arms cross your chest then step towards until your head is touching the wall. To perform the drill, rotate your shoulders just like if you were taking your backswing.

You should feel some, but minimal movement of your head on the wall. Repeat this drill to engrain this feeling and repeat with your golf swing on the range.

Drill #2: With a Partner
You can perform this drill with a partner on the driving range or golf course. Have a partner stand facing you but several feet away…far enough that you will not hit them in your golf swing.

Have them hold a golf club with the head of the club in their hand, and reach forward to place the end of the club on your head. From here you can take your swing, hit golf shots working on keeping your head on the golf club.

Remember to only keep your head on the club until you hit the ball. Have your head come off naturally in your backswing.

Training Aid Fixes

I am not going to recommend any training aids to improve head stability. There are a few out there on the market that you can find but I have not personally used them and will not recommend them unless they have worked for me personally or for my clients.

Thanks for Reading!


Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist

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