What's the worst golf advice you hear given to an amateur?

22 Professionals Contributed |
In golf, everyone's an expert. Once someone has it "figured out" they assume they know how to fix your swing. Then comes the bad advice...

"Keep Your Head Down"

The worst advice that I hear given to amateur golfers on a daily basis is, “keep your head down.” Most beginner and intermediate golfers top the ball or hit thin and are repeatedly told they “lifted their head.” I actually see more topped and thin shots come from bent arms and scooped wrists than from lifted heads. I’ve had students actually drop their head downswing and still top the ball because of how they used their arms and hands, and then say verbally they must have lifted their head. Rather than working on keeping the head down, these players should work on extending their arms downswing while releasing their wrists on time rather than early.

The danger of telling someone to keep their head down is that they tend to over-exaggerate and then don’t properly rotate through the shot. They often stare at the ground too long and finish incomplete. The head needs to rotate on the follow through to allow the body to fully rotate. The better saying would be to “keep your eye on the ball,” so that when the ball leaves the head rotates toward the target. Another better saying would be “stay in posture” because it is fine to rotate the head toward the target immediately after impact as long as you stay in posture. The beginner golfer tends to either stare at the ground too long or lose posture to look at the target rather than maintain the spine angle while turning their head. I look forward to getting the saying “keep your head down” out of the game of golf!

""Keep Your Head Down"" @joshapplegolf Click to Tweet

One Way is NOT for Everyone

Boy, this question is loaded…in today’s information sharing age, there is more info than ever being told to more golfers than ever before. While it’s great to share info, it’s often difficult for amateurs to filter out the gold from the noise. And the reality is there is plenty of noise that isn’t very good or applicable.

To answer the question though, the worst advice is probably when someone is told to swing a certain way because “everyone who’s good does it that way.” While the person providing the info probably means well, the reality is when you look at the best players in the world, everybody is doing things different. Even at the club level no two “good” scratch players are doing things the same. One way is not going to work for most in any facet of the game.

Instead of this advice, the amateur player would be best served if he or she focused on problem solving his or her own game/swing and finding solutions that work well for them. Working through this problem-solving process with a trusted professional coach is probably best- someone who can filter advice and assure it’s relevant for you and your game.

Florida Gulf Coast University PGA Golf Management
"One Way is NOT for Everyone" Click to Tweet

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Stop Doing this!

Without a doubt, the single worst piece of advice that still permeates golf instruction, golf courses and driving ranges across the world is the simple four words that people think fixes everything: Keep your head down!

When ever anyone tops a ball, hits a bad shot, the fix all advice is always “keep your head down”. But not one good player does it.
I will often walk the range and stop at someone struggling and will ask them what they are working on. The usual response is ” I’m trying to keep my head down, left arm stiff and make a big turn” and I’ll say “That’s great, because you are doing all of the things you are trying to do, unfortunately, they are all wrong.”

All good players, think David Duval, Anika, Nicklaus, Tiger all finished with their head up looking at the target, body facing the target and their right toe ( right handed player) in the ground and right heel up..

Certainly, the head can stay some what still for the back swing but there needs to be athletic motion during the golf swing!

"Stop Doing this!" Click to Tweet

"Keep Your Head Down" is a No-No

While we’ve all heard an Instructor tell us to “Keep Your Head Down”, it’s probably the worst thing you can focus on to maximize solid ball striking.

The golf swing is based on fast rotation. Great players rotate the club around their body. At impact, keeping your head down would restrict the rotation of your body in the follow through to finish. This most likely leads to chunking and hooking. If the body stops rotating and the arms keep flying, and the clubface will either bottom out before the hitting area, or flip through impact. Our goal is to support a square clubface, and keeping the rotational movement of your core, and head, is critical to success.

As an alternative, I suggest we think about “Keep Your Eye on the Ball”. In doing so, the head must rotate through the hitting area in concert with the body. By allowing head rotation, we’ve got a chance finish body rotation and maintain face angle through impact. Next time you hit balls, try to locate the ball in flight 3-5 feet in front of you after impact. I think you’ll find the clubface stays square longer, you’ll maintain your rotational speed through impact, and find less curve and more solid strikes in your game.

Lebanon Country Club
""Keep Your Head Down" is a No-No" @LCCGolfPro Click to Tweet

Keeping the head down or still and arms straight. Both of these ideas are horrible and very unathletic.

I have very rarely ever given a first time lesson and not had to break someone of the following bad habits: Keeping the head down or still and arms straight. Both of these ideas are horrible and very unathletic. Anyone that tries to intentionally keep their head down reverse pivots and most people that keep their arms straight do not get the ball air born. These concepts are never taught in other sports and they have no place in golf. Golfers need to focus on good posture and an athletic setup. Both of these concepts will produce results that a golfer desires. If it creates tension or limits motion in the golf swing it is most likely bad advice.

PGA Golf Pro
"Keeping the head down or still and arms straight. Both of these ideas are horrible and very unathletic." Click to Tweet

The one that bothers me the most is when I hear someone say they need to get under the ball

The obvious one you hear is “You picked your head up”. There is probably one person in every foursome that says that for every bad shot. Yes you can definitely have improper head movement, but it is not root problem for every bad shot.

The one that bothers me the most is when I hear someone say they need to get under the ball. Getting under the ball gives you a visual of trying to lift the ball off of the ground. When in reality, when the ball is on the ground, we want to swing down and through the ball at impact.

The goal is to make ball then turf contact, not to try and get under it and lift. If you try to get under it and lift you are going to get a lot of fat shots and also thin shots.

Flagler Golf Academy
"The one that bothers me the most is when I hear someone say they need to get under the ball" Click to Tweet

By far the worst advice that I have seen over 40 years is to keep your left arm straight

Wow where do you begin with bad advice keep your head down stay still make good contact. By far the worst advice that I have seen over 40 years is to keep your left arm straight.(right arm for leftys) It’s only half true. We are trying to swing the golf club and the clubhead in a circle around us. So our backswing and our forward swing Should be symmetrical. That means that our right arm for a right handed player should fold on the backswing And our left arm should fold on our follow through. If you hold the club parallel to the ground and you keep it parallel to the ground on your backswing and your follow through you will feel how your elbows work in the swing. For anyone that is a beginner or does not break 80 learning to use your elbows correctly and to not keep your lead arm Straight ( right arm for a lefty)
Is the secret to golf. There is no straight in golf The clubhead swings in a circle around us.

PGA Golf Professional
"By far the worst advice that I have seen over 40 years is to keep your left arm straight" Click to Tweet

Don’t keep your head down!!

The worst advice I hear is telling amateur golfers to keep their head down. By doing this, you restrict your body turn through impact and follow through. You are then forced to rely on your arms to compensate and this gives you far less room for error and can cause a variety of mistakes

Anthony Fiorenza, PGA Golf Professional
"Don’t keep your head down!!" Click to Tweet

Don’t Listen

Keep Your Head Down! I here this all the time. Especially when people are topping the balls or shanking or just miss hitting the Ball. It should be keep you eye on the ball. Some of the best players in the world do not keep their head still.

PGA Golf Professional
"Don’t Listen" Click to Tweet

Keep your head down, not!

Keep your head down is very restrictive, that advice inhibits the free flowing of the arms and hands into the follow thru creating a middle of the swing. You look like an archeologist studying what’s down there. Allow the eyes to follow the ball, keeping the arms freely accelerating past you on the way to the finish. Keeping you chin off your chest is best, chin up clears the chest and shoulders to move thru the ball more easily.

Animals in the jungle keeping there head down get eaten!

"Keep your head down, not!" Click to Tweet


While most advice given is given with good intent, it is often either incorrectly or is just wrong most of the time. One piece of advice often given is “keep your head down and eye on the ball”. When you realize that there are many blind golfer’s the eye on the ball part kinda doesn’t make sense. In our sport- the ball isn’t moving like it is in ping pong or tennis so it’s not avoiding being hit. In 20 years of teaching and thousands of lessons I have never seen anyone actually pull their head up. What most players do is lose their posture or they early extend, which is moving their lower body toward the ball either on their back swing or on the down swing causing them to stand up. This is usually caused more by physical reasons such as tight back tight hamstrings etc. Over swinging can also cause this. So work on strengthening your core, hold your posture or shorten your back swing.

Big Sticks Golf
"HEADS UP" @bigsticksgolf Click to Tweet

DON'T Keep Your Head Down!

Don’t keep your head down! There are a few reasons why this advice is detrimental to making a good golf swing. I think all golfers would agree, the golf swing has a starting position and a finish position. At the finish, the golfer’s weight should be balanced mostly on the left foot (RH golfer) and the torso and hips should face the target. Keeping one’s head down does not allow the golfer to complete the swing and arrive at a balanced finish. Next, if the golfer is trying to swing the golf club with energy AND he/she is trying to keep their head down, this could lead to neck injury.

Once again, swinging the golf club with energy and completing the motion is not compatible with the concept that one needs to keep the head down. Lastly, keeping your head down will not eliminate ‘topped shots.’ To reduce topped shots, focus on allowing the club to brush the grass on the way to the finish. The head will remain steady in order to brush the grass but do not keep it ‘down.’ In a nutshell, allowing the head to release during the forward swing will produce a beautiful ‘tv’ finish, lead to better shot contact, and a reduced chance for injury. Enjoy!

"DON'T Keep Your Head Down!" @KayKayGolf Click to Tweet

Stop With The Head Down!

Over the years I’ve heard way too many am’s telling their playing partners or family members to keep their head down or on every miss hit they’ll say “You picked your head up!”.

In some cases the advice giver is correct on the end result but nearly always caused by another major issue. Often the amateur’s student has heard, keep your head down, so much that they bury their chin down so low they can not turn properly or they become so locked in on the golf ball they loose all proper swing mechanic’s.

Mattawang Golf Club
"Stop With The Head Down!" Click to Tweet

Bad Thoughts and Images

When I’m playing casual golf with amateurs I often hear negative thoughts and images going around in the group. Examples are, “There is water right on this hole so don’t hit it right” or negative self talk like, “That was such a bad swing”. Bad thoughts and images cause us to have self doubt which is what makes this bad. Performing better on the golf requires required self confidence and to have this, we must have positive self thoughts and images. Instead say things like, “The better miss on this hole is left, plus the left side gives a better approach to the green”, and “That wasn’t my best swing but I’m confident I can get the next one up and down for par”.

Remember – positive thoughts, positive, images and positive, self talk = better performance.

PGA Golf Pro
"Bad Thoughts and Images" Click to Tweet

It’s all dangerous

This is a loaded question, I’ve seen good advice of identifying what is wrong with a poor correction. I’ve also seen people trying to fix the effect not the cause a swing issues.

Nick Duffy Golf
"It’s all dangerous" Click to Tweet

Keep working at it...Everything will come together with good hard work...

I’ve heard that before and you know it doesn’t work…You have it, or you don’t…As golf professionals we need to get realistic and tell golfers that you probably will not improve that much and don’t worry about it…Just enjoy each shot with your family and friends…

"Keep working at it...Everything will come together with good hard work..." Click to Tweet

All suggestions on golf advice should be customized for the student !

Anything on YouTube, Gasp !
All suggestions on golf advice should be customized for the student !
“One man’s food, is another’s poison”

"All suggestions on golf advice should be customized for the student !" Click to Tweet

Telling someone to keep their head down is not a productive thought

I’m sure others will concur, but telling someone to keep their head down is not a productive thought.
It hinders a quick, balanced turn and shift and is bad for your back.
Honorable mention…..keep your left arm straight……..you need more lag……you’re swaying.

PGA Golf Professional
"Telling someone to keep their head down is not a productive thought" @tmanvagas Click to Tweet

Keep your head down

Keep your head down.

Paralyzes the golfer limiting his rotation

Rotella Memorial Golf Course
"Keep your head down" @Mrlaudien Click to Tweet

The worst advise is very broad

The worst advise is very broad, most get some type of swing tip they get from a friend that is no better than they are.

Fox Hollow Golf Club
"The worst advise is very broad" Click to Tweet

Keep Your Eye On The Ball?

We have all heard the saying ‘you must keep you eye on the ball’ to hit a solid shot. In my experience working with newer golfers in particular, they tend to take what they hear very literally. By telling them to ‘keep your eye one the ball’, they will become fixated on the ball creating tension and restricting their motion both back and through the impact. The golf swing is an athletic motion. It must be relaxed and free. Be creating too much focus on the ball itself, a free flowing athletic motion becomes almost impossible. The ball is not moving like most sports which is why a better player can hit a ball with their eyes closed. I prefer students to focus on staying ‘down’ or ‘level’ by maintaining good posture. Not ‘keeping your eye on the ball’. Hope that helps!

"Keep Your Eye On The Ball?" Click to Tweet

Know your Student

The biggest problem I see is watching someone teaching an amateur (or amateur watching videos) like they are a skilled player or professional. Keep it simple, use fundamentals and techniques that they can manage and repeat and adapt your teaching to the students’ strengths and weaknesses. Contact, attack angle, path and face angle!! Teach them how to practice to improve and how to play, not just how to swing.

Arsenal Island Golf Course
"Know your Student" Click to Tweet

The Professionals in this Roundup

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