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The Problem with Stack and Tilt (Edited)

Thursday, February 03, 2011
Hit It Longer teaches you the Mike Austin Golf Swing

OK guys, if you have been reading these articles all along, or you know me in person, you know that I'm not a fan of the Stack and Tilt method.  I want to explain in a little detail why the swing technique has very little validity as an efficient swing technique for PGA Tour pros, as well as beginners, and anyone in between.

Here is one of the creators of the Stack and Tilt swing, Mike Bennett, demonstrating the method with a driver.

Problem #1:  The first thing to notice is the position at the top of the swing.  Between 60 and 70% of the body's weight is on the front foot.  At impact, there is still around 60-70% weight on the front foot.  THERE IS NO WEIGHT SHIFT.    This is one of the primary fundamentals of all sports motions, whether they involve power or not.  Even tossing horseshoes, the best players will make a weight shift to establish the rhythm of the arm swing solely for feel and control of the distance they must throw.

This method is basically a modified single axis pivot, like the old turn in a barrel idea from the 1960's.

Question to the S&T fans:  Would you teach a child to pitch a baseball like this?  Hit a baseball like this?  Throw a frisbee?  Skip a rock?  Throw shotput, discus, or hammer in high school?  They won't get very far.  I could go on and on with more examples of sports motions where having no weight shift will mire you in mediocrity.

Problem #2:  The release of the clubhead is cut off.  This severely limits the amount that the hands can accelerate the clubhead through impact.  You've already lost 20% of your potential power from having no pivot, now you're throwing away another 10% more.   This is tantamount to 'checking your swing' in baseball, or maybe throwing a change up.  While this motion may serve to add deception in games like tennis or badminton, in golf we have no opponent to deceive.  The ball doesn't know the difference,.

Problem #3:  The angle of attack is too steep.  Now that Trackman has shown that a 5 degree upward angle is near optimal for creating distance, why would you employ a swing that hits the ball with a 5 degree downward angle?  You're striking the ball totally inefficiently with stack and tilt, transferring much less energy from clubhead to ball because it is such a glancing blow.  *EDITED FOR ACCURACY!**  The correct answer is that no matter what your attack angle, you will always compress the ball the same, as long as you are using the same loft in both examples.  I was incorrect!

Problem #4:  The ball flight is poor.  I was watching a student of another teacher today hitting into a 15 mph headwind - typical Santa Ana condition.  His 7 iron was ballooning straight up in the air - but to relative degrees each hit.  Most of them came down around 125-130 yards (this is a scratch player) but they varied all the way to 150.  He was losing up to 30 yards off his stock shot.  Completely unpredictable - and many drifted in the crosswind too.

Next I watched my friend Andy hit 'under, up, and out' for awhile.   Keep in mind that Andy is a big guy, overweight with no knee joints left whatsoever.  He's generally glad when he can walk from the car to the range.   His swing speed is 10 mph less, minimum, but yet he was hitting penetrating 6 irons around 155 through the wind within 5 yards of each other in distance.  The ball was relatively unaffected by both headwind and crosswind, just ignored it.   Not only was the ball flight truer, but he was creating the same ball speed as the method player with much less clubhead speed.  This is known as smash factor.

Let's look at a couple of arguments the S&T crowd commonly makes in defense of their technique:

Argument #1:  You compress the ball more with Stack and Tilt.  FALSE - the more steep the downward hit is, the less you compress the ball if you use an instrument with loft.  You create a glancing blow and more backspin.  You do compress the ground nicely though.   Think about how you would create backspin English shooting a pool ball - it doesn't feel solid - it is glancing.

Think about it - the best way to compress a golf ball would be to hit it with a 0 degree lofted driver with a 0 degree angle of attack.

Argument #2:  Stack and Tilt ensures that I take a divot in front of the ball so I never hit it fat.  Yes, I would reply, so would playing the ball back by your right pinky toe and making a normal swing.

Ouch, I think I ruptured a lumbar disc just looking at this picture.  Anyone got an Advil?  Pass the Vicodin instead.

Folks, the pro game is changing - the writing is on the wall.  The game is going to be dominated for the next decade by players who hit long and high, but who finally have some finesse and putting ability.  Players like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Jhonattan Vegas, and don't forget Phil Mickelson.  Fred Couples is dominating the Champions Tour hitting under up and out.  Do you see any S&T senior golfers?

Someone is going to come along who can drive like Jamie Sadlowski only straighter - and can make putts like crazy.  This guy will change the game and the golf courses.

I was too young to remember the last time someone revolutionized the game of golf with this style - his name was Nicklaus, and he is still the greatest ever.

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