Skipping the Stone

By John Giatropoulos
Last Updated: 11/07/2016

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I'm a VERY visual person and when I think of golf tips and advice I need to visualize it so that it is etched in my mind. So when I read Ben Hogan's tip about "Skipping the Stone" I immediately could picture this motion, I just didn't realize it would work so well.

I have a tendency to swing over the top. This means at the top of my backswing, my hands shift towards the ball and I basically cross over the original path I made during the backswing. I cross "over the top" of the original swing path.

If you have uploaded your swing and gotten an Advanced Down the Line swing analysis you know if you are swinging over the top already.

The fix for this (and there are many many tips for swinging over the top) is to imagine you are swinging UNDER the original swing path line. I could visualize this alright, but no matter what I did with my swing I would always seem to make that tiny shift with my hands causing the over the top downswing.

Another fix it to move your upper body laterally and avoid rotating your trail shoulder towards the target thus causing the over the top swing path on the downswing.

Then I read Ben Hogan's book "Ben Hogan's 5 Lessons'.

In the book there are a few illustrations to go along with the text, and it does the job quite well. In one of the illustrations Mr. Hogan is seen skipping a stone. Not swinging a golf club, but actually skipping a stone.

This "sidearm" motion through impact seems to not allow an over the top downswing. Now hear me out on this. When you take your arm back to skip a stone, you want to throw that stone as parallel to the water as possible right?

So imagine the golf swing is the same. If you take the club back you want to try and keep the club under the original plane as much as possible.

Lee Trevino takes the club back at a 58 degree angle, and during the downswing the shaft angle is at 30 degrees! The shaft angle on the backswing is your "starting" angle, and on the downswing you want your shaft angle to be LESS than this angle.

That is where skipping the stone comes into play.

My backswing is generally upright. When I am at the top of the backswing its all well and good until I start the downswing. Thats where the wheels fall off and I come over the top because my shaft angle is GREATER than the shaft angle at the top.

Let's use some visuals of your swing to help you visualize YOUR shaft angle at your backswing and during the downswing respectively.

Figure 1

Ok in Figure 1, the line drawn is showing you your shaft angle during the backswing.

Figure 2

In Figure 2, we are showing you your downswing position. Is there a difference between these angles? Is one "line" more upright than the other?

Let's look at them side by side.

Figure 3
Figure 4

As you can see from the images there almost ALWAYS is a difference in the angles, UNLESS you can keep the shaft angle EXACTLY the same as during the downswing. Chances are you can't. Unless you are on tour.

The rule of thumb here is to keep the downswing shaft angle LESS or FLATTER than the backswing shaft angle.

Think about skipping the stone. When you take the club back, you are rearing back with a stone in your hand. During the downswing, you are slinging that stone as PARALLEL to the LAKE as you can.

This will promote that FLATTER shaft angle during the downswing.


If you have already received a Down the Line swing analysis or are looking to see how your improvement is progressing, you can check out the Advanced Down the Line Lesson Program and upload your swing using Swingbot.

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