When discussing uniformity in golf instruction we cannot ignore the now famous if not infamous “Stack & Tilt” swing techniques introduced to the golf world by Mike Plummer & Andy Bennett with a huge splash on the June 2007 cover of Golf Digest. No other technique has had such an impact in golf instruction. It is considered revolutionary, controversial, cutting edge, gimmicky and all of the above. Without a doubt it received everyone’s attention from playing professionals, teaching professionals and amateurs alike.
The main premise behind the technique is to strike the ground at the same place every time and according to both Plummer and Bennett this is most easily performed by maintaining the weight over the front foot (left foot for “RH” golfer) throughout the swing. This of course goes against the paradigm of what has been taught since the game’s inception.
Another premise is the spine’s position both at address and during the course of the back swing. Again Plummer and Bennett adhere to the spine being straight (all the vertebrae being stacked on top of one another) at address. In other words it should not be “tilted” away from the target. From this starting position there is naturally more weight on the front foot. Whilst the back swing is performed on a steady axis the spine will have a slight forward spine tilt toward the target. This is counteracted through impact by the turning and thrusting of the left hip causing the spine to tilt away from the target. Thirdly they have brought to light a change in how we look at ball flight laws. They had us look at the initial direction of the ball as being dictated by club-face direction rather than the path the club-head was travelling. The path creates the spin in relation to the angle of the club-face.
Finally their technique produces a more around your body type swing (flatter if you will) with the back leg straightening slightly during the backswing allowing the spine to also bend lower toward the ball during the back swing (face closer to the ball so to speak at the top of backswing than at address)
I believe this pretty much covers it with regards to their main principles. It should be said that it was not Plummer and Bennett that coined the term “Stack & Tilt”. Golf Digest wanted a term for their technique and offered dozens in which they both turned down. Stack and Tilt were simply two words they used every day in their teaching so they stuck and the rest is history.
History is of course what Plummer and Bennett base their swing theories upon. There is of course merit to many of their ideas and some are plain physics such as basic ball flight laws however they are attempting to create a paradigm shift in the way many golfers, amateurs and teaching professionals have learned about how the body should move and how the club should be swung. Their theories evolved from Homer Kelly’s “The Golfing Machine” and Mac O’Grady’s teachings. You may agree or disagree with some or all of Stack and Tilt but this would be foolish for any instructor worth their merit. The goal is to broaden your knowledge base and open your mind to new ideas. Some of the ideas may very well be old ones brought to light in a way that appeals to the masses, easier to understand and perhaps easier to perform for many golfers.
I have my own ideas and opinions about Stack & Tilt, some favorable, some not in which I will share in the next article. In the meantime if you have never read “The Golfing Machine”, I encourage you to do so but be forewarned. In many circles it has been considered to be the most important book ever written on golf instruction and in others the most complicated. You’ll love it or hate it. Next article: Stack & Tilt (PART 2) Stripped down
DAVID HILL Is a certified examiner for the USGTF and a ranked instructor. • 24 year golf professional • USGTF Master Professional • Class Member Canadian PGA • Over 25000 lessons given in career • Director of Instruction Elm Ridge CC Montreal Canada • Owner Montreal Golf Academy (4 Locations) • President/Owner Marquis Golf (Corporate Golf/Travel) • Top 50 Canadian Teacher (National Post) • Top 100 USGTF Teacher