TPI – 12 Common Novice Swing Characteristics

In the first part of our Titleist Performance Institute article series, I introduced you to the influence that a TPI team of professionals can have on your game, regardless of your skill level. In this article, I will outline the 12 most common novice swing characteristics identified by the golf professionals at TPI through their extensive observational research.

To keep things brief, I will forgo in-depth descriptions of each of the characteristics, and delve deeper into the functional movements correlated to the first 6 characteristics. The next article will then describe the functional movements associated with swing characteristics 7-12.

I encourage you to take your swing characteristic questions to the great golf professionals at Burnaby Golf. Please bear with me while I attempt to describe the physical tests. For the best analysis, I strongly encourage you to seek out a TPI certified professional by visiting

The 12 most common novice swing characteristics:
3.Loss of Posture
4.Flat Shoulder Plane
5.Early Extension
9.Reverse Spine Angle
10.Hanging Back
11.Casting/Early Release/Scooping
12.Chicken Winging

1. S-Posture: created when a player has too much arch to their lower back in the setup position. The increased arch of the lower back puts abnormally high levels of stress on the muscles and joints of the lower back which in turn causes the abdominals to relax. Never a good thing! Test yourself (you may need a partner): Find a full-length mirror. Take your 5-iron stance with a club. Now take the club and place it on your back so the club reaches from your head to your butt. Resume the 5-iron stance. If the club only touches your head and butt (without touching your back) you likely have S-Posture.

2. C-Posture: created when the shoulders are slumped forward at setup creating a definitive roundness to the back (especially the upper back/neck). Test yourself: Same test as S-Posture. If your head is forward and not touching the club, you are in C-Posture.

3. Loss of Posture: Any significant alteration from the body’s original set up angles during a golf swing. Loss of posture can affect all aspects of a golf swing but will significantly affect timing, balance and rhythm. Test yourself (Overhead Deep Squat): Grab a golf club. Grasp it with both hands, shoulder width apart. Place the club on top of your head with your hands shoulder width apart. Extend your arms so the club is overhead with your arms extended and hands shoulder width apart. Ensure your feet are facing directly forward and you legs are shoulder width apart. Finally, squat down and attempt to get your butt to your heals without changing your foot orientation, lifting your heels or falling forward. If this is as tough to perform, as it is to explain, chances are your golf swing possesses a loss of posture.

4. Flat Shoulder Plane: Describes the angle of the shoulders as we reach the top of our backswing. Test yourself (90/90 test): Find a full-length mirror. Take your 5-iron stance. From this position, take your right elbow/hand and lift it to be inline with your shoulder while maintaining your 5-iron stance. While maintaining this posture, try to bring your right hand as far back as possible. If you cannot rotate your shoulder to bring your hand inline with your shoulder (even slightly beyond) while maintaining posture, you have an increased likelihood of possessing a flat shoulder plane.

5. Early Extension: Occurs when your hips and spine attempt to straighten up too early on your downswing. Arguably, early extension is the most common novice swing characteristic. Test yourself (Overhead Deep Squat): See description under loss of posture.

6. Over-the-Top: No, not the classic Stallone movie. OTT occurs when there is overdominance of the upper body during the downswing. There are a few viable physical tests to predict this swing characteristic. Single leg balance is perhaps the most important to ensure adequate weight shift from the lower body. Test yourself: Find a full-length mirror. Take a comfortable stance. Lift one leg off the ground so that your knee is parallel with your hip. Once in the position close your eyes. Repeat the test on both sides. Strive towards keeping yourself still in the eyes closed position for 16-20 seconds. Losing balance early or an inability to assume the starting test position drastically increases the likelihood of your golf swing being over the top.

Sergio Pasqua, Lee Chiropractic & Sports Therapy Clinic