The Shoulders


If you struggle with both thin and pulled shots, you may want to pay attention to your shoulders. One of the main functions in the backswing is to turn the shoulders in a circle on a downward angle while staying over the ball.  This will allow the hands and the golf club to travel on a preferred path to the top of the swing.  
Many great players have competed at a high level by shifting their shoulder centre away from the ball, but these are highly skilled athletes who have learned to properly time this shift-and-sway move.  As a young player, I was taught to shift my weight to the right side in the backswing while transferring my weight to the front side in the forward swing, and I can tell you from experience that this led to many-a-topped 3-woods when my timing was not precise.
Keeping the shoulders turning and tilting in a stable fashion will help most golfers make better contact.  Turning the shoulder down on the backswing is one of the main differences between good and poor players.  If you have the opportunity to watch Brian French hit short-iron shots, watch his left shoulder.  It’s a thing of beauty.  (Please note that I was not paid to say this).  Most golfers who struggle with contact lose this downward motion with their shoulder at some point throughout their backswing, causing them to sway backwards, or lose posture, or a combination of both.
The image above shows the approximate angle that this player should move their shoulders downwards with this length of golf club, represented by the red cylinder. You will also notice that the red cylinder is at a 90-degree angle to the spine.  This is key.  The shoulders rotate back at a 90 degree angle to the spine to create this amount of tilt.  The proper amount of shoulder tilt in the backswing will usually translate to the proper amount of shoulder tilt in the forward swing, causing the club to be delivered at the proper angle of attack and eliminate thin and pulled shots.
Remember, this is only one cause of these types shots and having a trained eye look for your swing tendencies is always recommended.  
Ryan Rinneard
Director of Instruction
PGA of Canada, Class A