Wondering If Swing “Gurus” Know What Compensations Are

When I watch golf on television and see the “analysis” on swings, I really wonder if anyone in the “Modern Golf Swing” school knows what a compensation is.

If you asked me what a compensation is, when it relates to the golf swing, to me it’s a motion that is made to overcome either a faulty stance, to make proper contact with the ball from an improper position at some point in the swing (“3 To 9” position or at the top, etc.), or simply to avoid injury that would or could occur if that certain motion is not made.

So, the confusing thing to me (when trying to figure out what Modern Golf Swing “gurus” know or don’t know), is when I see compensations or outright swing flaws being praised as evidence of superior swinging.

You all know my biggest pet peeve, which is calling the unstable and twisting or jumping leading foot anywhere from impact to the finish, “using the ground.”

Case In Point…


As I’ve pointed out many times, the “twisting/snapping foot”  or “flying foot,” which is getting a lot of play on television is due to one or the other (and sometimes both) of two things:

  • Failure to shift the body’s weight properly into the leading foot from the trailing foot (see how that trailing toe is anchoring Justin Thomas’ body), which means the leading foot has to twist or jump to keep the hips turning through impact and the finish and/or
  • Swinging with a restricted hip back swing, leading to the swinger being “stuck” or “jammed” at impact due to the hips having returned to the impact position ahead of the lagging upper body, arms and club

Also related is the “flying foot,” a move that Tiger Woods made famous, the “knee snap” that is said to be “enhancing speed through the bottom,” when in fact it is the same as the 2 reasons given above:


Once again, it is not “generating” or “enhancing” leverage or power, that move – it is the result of getting stuck between the “3 & 9” positions due to the combination of not leaving that trailing foot on the down swing and having the hips reach the impact position before the upper body and club do.

You’ll notice that I make a great deal out of swinging with mechanical-correctness, and there is not one knee-snapping or foot-flying swinger on the PGA Tour who can generate more power than the late Mike Dunaway, who had a very stable leading foot through impact and the finish, because he both got into his leading foot with his weight and because he didn’t anchor his trailing foot:


And you don’t have to be Mike Dunaway, either – here I am last summer registering a ball speed of 187 mph on a drive, which is up with the top 5 power swingers on Tour, and what’s my leading foot doing through impact, and what’s my trailing foot doing?


I have a “compensation” of my own on the swing above, by the way – the early heel lift and foot slide are mechanically-sound, but they show that I have turned early into the impact because of my ball placement…

This Is Perfect Foot Action Through Impact…


…and as I’ve been writing about this week, I’ve got that issue solved and my actual swing should have the delayed heel lift and step-around similar to Mr. Dunaway back in the day, and to my SwingRite swing without a ball:


There is also the “stiff-wrister,” where the swinger is either prone to early club face rotation (leading to hooks) or believes that a stiff wrist at impact gives one more power, or that trying to hold the impact position will make the ball fly on target:


You’ll hear this action praised, similarly to “look at how he holds that release and keeps that left arm straight so long after impact…”

Here’s a flash for swing “gurus” or analysts praising this – nothing you do after impact has any effect on the ball that has already been struck and is going wherever you have sent it.

In fact, holding that release through impact will only cause you to slow the club down coming into the impact and make you have to time the impact – so, if you want to know why 6’1″ Jordan Spieth, a good athlete in his early 20’s, is so far down the power and distance list on Tour and barely ever finds a fairway – I’ve just told you the reason.

The most powerful swingers have a natural release (the old “3 To 9” again!), and even the Iron Byron machine shows the proper way of swinging to release the club, or to have it pass the hands at the bottom and for the leading wrist to cup inwards just as the right one does on the back swing:


And that’s how you do it, so the leading arm shouldn’t be straight for very long after impact:

Tony Finau vs Jordan Spieth


Of course, a very highly-compensated and prominent swing guru called Tony Finau’s release “a bit flippy,” so you know what I have to say about that.

It would be, “OK…sure…whatever…”

I could go on forever, really – you’ll also hear that when a player’s head drops back and to the right sharply on the down swing (what I call the “trebuchet drop,”) they are somehow doing something spectacular, but all they’re doing is compensating mid-swing with that head motion to get it where it’s supposed to be at impact, because it isn’t there:

Even The G.O.A.T. Had Swing Compensations At Times


Seve Ballesteros


Don’t let me forget as well that in addition to Seve Ballesteros’ “trebuchet drop” on the down swing, he also “shifted off the ball” during his back swing, and many great Classic Golf Swing era swingers did this:

George Knudson “Shifts Off The Ball”


They were correct to do so from the address stance they had (center biased instead of right), however it was simply a compensation to get into position behind the ball by the top of the swing, which is where they should have been already (with a right-biased and right-tilted setup), so that’s a great athletic move, but also a compensation.

So, I’m not saying that a swing with a compensation is terrible – some of the greatest swingers and ball-strikers ever had compensations – look at Ben Hogan of the Hundred Anti-Hook Moves… all I’m saying is that a compensation saves a swing from disaster.

It doesn’t make it a great swing.

But then, you’d have to know the difference, right, swing gurus?

Back to the eBook!


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6 thoughts on “Wondering If Swing “Gurus” Know What Compensations Are

  1. Mike Divot

    The swing gurus might not know, but the TV producers and magazine editors who need to fill airtime/pages sure as hell do!

    Editor: “What’s this one here? ‘Try my falling over ass-backwards move for extra distance and accuracy’ … sounds like BS. Pad it out to 8 pages and make sure you mention the equipment manufacturer.”

    Office gofer: Yes, boss.

  2. targettom

    DJ on the downswing you have your hands near your belt buckle while at the same time the club shaft is parallel to the ground. How do you get the face squared up at impact without resorting to a super strong grip? When I do this, with a neutral grip, the ball is sayonara wide right, over the fence

    1. D Watts Post author

      You’re talking about the “3 O’Clock” position in the “3 To 9” Concept of proper extension to and through impact, Tom.

      The club face is always square to my hands, whether it’s at 3, impact or the 9 position, so I don’t have to worry about “square” club face when I’m swinging in proper position.

      It’s part of the concepts I developed and introduced last summer with the “EMCS” videos:

  3. targettom

    yeah I knew that; I guess I should have asked how do you get your hands around fast enough to have a consistent square strike. It seems like a combination of timing and practice is needed.

    1. D Watts Post author

      It seems like a combination of timing and practice is needed…

      Actually, the opposite, Tom – I don’t like to rely on timing, so the setup from address, ball position and grip are all optimal in order to not have to time anything. When I’m swinging my best, the only swing thought I have is, “Kill it…”

      When you rely on timing, you’ll have varying results from great to terrible. When you take out the timing, you range between good and great. And I’m working on making every swing…pretty damned good to great!

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