forward shaft lean
14 July, 2011 by Bobby Clampett

A Fresh Look at Forward Shaft Lean

Contributed by Martin Chuck

We’ve all heard the plea “let’s get real.” There is a golf swing topic or if you prefer, an impact dynamic that I’ve wanted to get real about for quite some time now. It’s the fundamental referred to in golf as a forward leaning shaft at impact. I should know something about this topic, as I invented the Tour Striker Training Club.

A traditional starting or address position for most golfers would have the grip end of the club pointed at the belly button or just slightly left of it (apologies for the right handed bias in my references).


Stated simply, a forward leaning shaft at impact is defined as the grip end of the club getting to a point ahead of the golf ball through impact. When golf instructors demonstrate a forward leaning shaft, they often take the grip end of the club and push it so far forward that if you were a bird perched on top of the instructor’s head, you would see that the grip and hands well outside the left foot. If you were to watch this demonstration from a face on view, you might say, “Wow, are you kidding me?”

The difference between the orientation of the shaft at address (vertical to your belly button) and this “posed” impact position frequently demonstrated by golf instructors (shaft forward of its starting position) is defined as “forward shaft lean.”

Sometimes, golfers watch such a demonstration and conclude that they are supposed to actually hit the ball with the hands way forward and the clubhead way back. In actual fact, if performed as such, the resultant ball flight would be low enough to knock the hat off a 7 ft tall Frosty the Snowman standing 100 yards down range in Steve Stricker’s Wisconsin.

This happens because many golfers will pull dramatically on the grip end of the club and leave the clubface wide open at impact. Let’s just say that Frosty’s hat would fall to the ground with slice spin! One additional negative outcome is the dreaded (dare we say it) shank. As Johnny Miller has said, the shank is the first cousin of a slice.

My assertion is this: what the typical “forward leaning shaft” demonstration is driving at is that a forward swing bottom (the unifying theme of IZG and the Tour Striker) requires that your hands move in front of their starting position just prior to impact. What is not always explained by instructors, and thus misunderstood by students, is that during an actual golf swing the clubhead will catch up and match the forward position of the hands. This will produce a classic, pro-like impact position where the left arm and club (radius of the swing) lines up underneath the left shoulder. (This assumes an orthodox ball position falling underneath the logo found on a golfer’s shirt). These photos of Tiger and Rory illustrate the point.


From a face on view, this would appear to be a relatively vertical orientation of the shaft, not a leaning, far-forward position. The shaft would technically be forward of the address position, but wouldn’t (for most normal golf shots) look to be leaning nearly as far forward as commonly demonstrated.

One thing that accomplished players do along with getting their hands and club lined up underneath their left shoulder at impact is to square the clubface so as to avoid the slice and its unwanted first cousin. Good players know that the logo on the back of their left hand and the clubface are essentially the same things.

In summary,

1) Take the typical forward leaning shaft demonstration for what it is. Not a practical impact position, rather an illustration of where you should direct your hands through the impact zone. That is, forward of their starting position.

2) Realize that ball position is an important factor. Note that IZG promotes a ball position no further back than 4 inches from the left heel. If a ball is played in the middle of the feet or even closer to the right foot, a photo of impact might show more forward shaft lean than would be desirable for most standard shots.

3) Go find a bunker and work on Bobby’s sand drill. Here is a demonstration.

Get your swing bottom in front of the line and you may well forget altogether about a forward leaning shaft. It will be a nice result rather than an awkward “gotta force it to happen” part of your overall swing motion.

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  1. Martin: Great article and some very insightful comments about average players’ misconceptions about the impact condition. I’d like to point out one more area that scoopers struggle with, which I’m fighting myself.

    When you scoop through impact, it requires a lot of tension in the hands and arms. If you carry that tension into an exaggerated impact position where you try to get the shaft way forward, this in my experience is the #1 cause of a shank, and the more the player tries to swing from the inside the more blatant the shank is because the hosel is blocking the clubface and the tension in the hands doesn’t allow the clubhead to square and “catch up” as you mention.

    Just something I’ve fought as a 12 handicapper working extremely hard to get to a 7 by the end of this year. The Impact Zone is right on my bookshelf and I look at it often. The Tour Striker is really one of the best training aids to come along in years, good luck in your teaching and in spreading the word about your unique tool.

  2. Great article, I think Parametric Acceleration plays into what your talking about in a big way. Two masses of energy moving in opposing directions. You can see it in the impact photos. The left shoulder is moving up and away from the club head at impact as it moves down and out. The left hip is moving with some up and behind the player as the hands and arms are moving down and thru. The tail bone is moving back as the belt or belly button is moving thru. The left knee is straightening away from the ground as the rt elbow is straightening toward the ground. All these things happen for forward shaft lean to happen correctly and not as that description you gave “When golf instructors demonstrate a forward leaning shaft, they often take the grip end of the club and push it so far forward that if you were a bird perched on top of the instructor’s head, you would see that the grip and hands well outside the left foot.” You have it right and your club works.

  3. hey martin. my name’s kevin. i”m 50 yrs old, slim build, pretty athletic still, played sports my whole life. i’ve been hitting balls now for about 3 years now. i still consider myself a beginner- because I CANNOT HIT THE BALL CONSISTANTLY. i conquered the slice, i can hit it pretty darn straight,but no consistancy along with no distance. i have a very small distance difference between clubs except my driver which tells me i just dont have the golf swing down yet. I have 1001 instructuals, drills on my computer.1001 notes i’ve written down and still no difference.I like the idea of the tour striker and honestly i thought, think that is my problem.So i purchaced the Tour Striker pro 7 iron. Every time i go out and hit a few with the striker i try to watch 5 or 10 minutes of the video.THANK YOU!!!! When i srike it properly,the ball just pierces the air. Starts off low and just keeps rising. That is exactly the flight and feeling and distance i’ve been looking for, for the past 3 yrs.ONLY problem-that shot is only 1 in about 60 strokes.I’ve had the striker now for about 2 weeks now (about 500 swings) and i can not seem to get better (more consistant proper contact) I AM SO SERIOUS ABOUT GETTING BETTER while i’m still( young) & athletic. I know this is the product for me. I have already unsubscribed from all the other instructors.Please- do you have any thoughts for me? Sincerely and very grateful, kevin

  4. I’m 72 and about to purchase what I imagine is my last set of irons. I’ve been to a fitter and learned my swing is an aggressive toe down swing requiring a 2 degree upright lie. After my fitting I realized there where two or three fundamental issues that I should correct and accidentally stumbled over Bobby Clampett’s impact zone striking approach….it’s given me new life. I’m considering having IZG analyze my swing after a month or making corrections based on available IZG videos…..I’m dying to get clubs fit for me but I don’t want to make the mistake of buying clubs based on swing mechanics that can correction relatively short order…does that make sense?

    1. Scott,
      You are very wise and being a former clubfitter, you know that when you change your swing or change your impact, you need to get fit all over again. I believe that golfers should be fit to their optimum impact. Therefore, the better their impact gets, the better the clubs perform for them. We now have Club Champion as our club fitting partner inside our Indoor Performance Center in Naples, Florida. I suggest you follow your instinct, come in for a couple of lessons first, then get fit.
      To better impact,

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