I’ve been working on some shoulder tilt issues with my irons lately, and it’s brought up the concept of balancing the proper shoulder tilt with the driver vs the irons.
Do you know why shoulder tilt with the driver is important? Do you know whether or not you are maximizing your performance with your current position?
In this article, I’ll show you the importance of shoulder tilt with the driver, and how it can help you generate more power and distance off the tee.
Let’s get right into it.
Shoulder Tilt With Driver
Shoulder tilt with the driver is an important technique as it provides a consistent and repeatable angle of attack into the golf ball. The proper shoulder tilt allows you to strike the ball on the upswing, improving launch and optimizing distance.
But first, let’s preface this with a quote from legendary instructor Hank Haney:
“Your back shoulder should be lower than your front shoulder, but only by the amount that your bottom hand is lower than your top hand on the grip. It helps everything from alignment to swing plane.”Hank Haney via Golf Digest
So, how can we apply the correct amount of shoulder tilt?
How to Add Shoulder Tilt to the Driver Swing
It would be really easy if you could just head to the driving range right now, dip the right shoulder (for the right-handed golfer), and call it a day.
However, shoulder tilt in the driver doesn’t exactly work like that.
Below are the key steps to ensure you achieve the proper shoulder tilt with driver:
Step 1: Setup
The first step is to set up with your shoulders relatively square and level.
If you drop the trail shoulder too much at address, you will struggle to turn properly and generate the power needed from your lower body rotation.
So, let go of the concept of a large drop of the back shoulder.
Of course, your right hand naturally sits lower than your left on the grip. So, your trail shoulder will be slightly lower than the lead shoulder, and that is fine!
Step 2: Backswing
On the backswing, feel your left shoulder move slightly toward your left knee.
It’s important to not dip your head, as this can hamper consistency. As you rotate your lower body, your lead shoulder will naturally move closer to the left knee.
Also, your spine angle should not be changing.
Transferring weight onto the trail leg as you swing the club back will improve your shoulder tilt and keep the club on the correct swing plane.
Step 3: Transition
During the transition, the key is to lead with your lower body.
As your lower body is leading, your right shoulder will drop slightly towards your right pocket. Dropping the trail shoulder is ideal as it helps to improve the angle of attack. This goes a long way to increase speed, power, and distance.
However, if your lower body stops rotating, you may experience issues with the clubface opening up. Don’t forget that rotation.
Step 4: Impact
At impact, your right shoulder should be lower than your left shoulder.
Take a look at the best professionals in the game who are gaining a lot of power and distance and hitting their drives high — the right shoulder is low.
While dropping the trail shoulder, these golfers also load their weight on the lead side. Having the weight here means that there has been a transition (which increases power), and the clubface is more likely to remain square.
Rotation is just as important as shoulder tilt — one doesn’t work without the other.
Step 5: Finish
Finally, continue your rotation through impact until, eventually, you are looking at your target with square shoulders.
As much as it’s useful to have a low trail shoulder through impact, you need to move through the ball completely to maximize accuracy and distance.
Check out the video below from Alex Elliott, where he explores the concept of having shoulder tilt with the driver to optimize launch and distance:
Shoulder Tilt With Driver: Troubleshooting
Many golfers tend to overexaggerate this shoulder tilt with the driver.
I see so many players with the back shoulder so far down at address, thinking that this is what is meant by proper shoulder tilt in the golf swing.
Don’t do this!
Here is what can happen if you exaggerate the shoulder tilt a bit too much.
Ball Trajectory is Too High
The trajectory of your tee shots can get too high if you have an excessive amount of shoulder tilt. When the drive gets too high, you may see a loss in distance.
Generally, a higher ball flight leads to more distance than a lower ball flight for the everyday golfer. However, when the ball trajectory is too high, it may reach peak height too soon and start to descend quicker than we want it to.
If you have access to a launch monitor, you can double-check to see how your ball data is changing as you work on the optimal setup with your driver.
Another issue with dropping the right shoulder too much is that it can open your shoulder line. This can cause you to hit shots right of the target.
However, this mainly occurs when you exaggerate the shoulder tilt at setup.
If you have the shoulders more square at setup, you rotate back with your body, and then you drop the shoulder into place; you should be square.
This is why rotation is so important when working on shoulder tilt with the driver.
Loss of Power
Finally, you can lose power if your shoulder tilt is not quite correct.
You may find yourself getting caught up on this tilting of the shoulder and forgetting to rotate and transfer weight. If you can remember the weight transfer and the rotation, it’s much easier to get the power you need out of your swing.
In fact, when you get the proper shoulder tilt, you should gain power.
Shoulder Tilt FAQs
Here are a few common questions regarding shoulder tilt with the driver:
Should the Shoulder be Tilted at Address?
Yes, the shoulders should be slightly tilted at address.
This allows your right shoulder (right-handed player) to be a little lower than the left shoulder, as your right hand sits lower on the grip than your left hand.
Can You Have Too Much Shoulder Tilt?
Yes, you can have too much shoulder tilt in the driver swing.
This can restrict rotation, causing you to lose power and accuracy in the swing.
Ultimately, the key to finding the right amount of shoulder tilt is to ensure you’re leading with your lower body throughout the swing, rather than the arms.