No Forward Shaft Lean on Full Shots

Sun, 10/06/2013 - 10:00 -- Don Trahan

I'm sure most of you have been enjoying the Presidents Cup this weekend. There have been some amazing shots during team play, but today is all about singles competition. If the Ryder Cup last year was any indication of how the day will unfold, it's sure to be a very intense Sunday at Muirfield Village!

Today, I'm going to answer two questions that were sent in that covered the same topic. Each question was related to forward shaft lean and whether or not it should be used when swinging a golf club. Most of the time, instructors who suggest using forward shaft lean are talking about a rotational type of swing. Since we use a vertical swing, we don't want any sort of forward shaft lean on full shots.

Here are the two questions sent in from Cy Wong and Jerry Shulman:

Hi Don,

My club pro says, "To compress the ball properly, your hands must be in front of the ball at impact".  Is this a rotational swing concept or does it apply to PPGS as well? If so, how do you move your hands forward at impact while swinging up? I find it very difficult. This may be another topic but my club pro also mentioned, in relation to grips, that a smaller grip enhances wrist cock action. As no wrist action is the best action, should I get my grips thickened (using paper lining inside the grip) to promote still wrists?  I tend to "flip" the club at impact a lot.

-Cy Wong


I've been seeing the "Tour Striker" advertised where the striking face is higher on the club (i.e. you have to have forward shaft lean when you strike the ball to
get the face of the club full-on). I have been following you for over a year, bought your videos and other tools, and know you advocate an upward strike, not a
downward one. Could you discuss this issue of forward shaft lean and compression to get a better result?

Many thanks,
Jerry Shulman

There is an exception when it comes to using forward shaft lean with the PPGS. When you're chipping and pitching around the green, it's okay to use a little forward shaft lean. For example, if I was chipping with a 7 iron and wanted the ball to come out a little lower, putting forward lean on the shaft will deloft my club just enough to give me my desired results.

So remember, whenever you're hitting a ball off the tee or you are using a full swing, don't use any forward shaft lean. That's designed for people who swing down on the ball and take big divots. We take small divots by nipping the ground and swinging up to the T-finish.

Keep it vertical with NO forward shaft lean!

The Surge

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ldeit163's picture

Submitted by ldeit163 on

When I've watched the loft of irons be measured, the handle is forward, ahead of the clubhead. Therefore, if the I get the shaft vertical at impact, there will be added loft to the clubface. If a 9 iron is measured with 44* and the shaft is vertical, the loft would be more, say 48*. ?????

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

The intent of Surges lesson today is that (in general) there should be no added shaft lean which actually de-lofts the club head. Just allow the natural downward move and squaring up to take place. You notice in Don's set up there is some natural lean as the shaft is in line with his forward arm. This (as you allude to) has the club angled as it is designed with it's normal loft. So while the hands are squaring up through impact the hands are slightly ahead for that tiny mila second as the ball is struck. But there is no added lean or downward intention added. Make sense?

On another note I am an advocate of larger grips. I mean giant jumbo. I use the Jumbo max which make all other jumbo grips seem cute and tiny by comparison. I was fit and introduced to the J Max by a PPGS fitter in California. Would another qualified fitter have put me in J Max grips? likely not. So when it comes to grip size I think the old rule for fitting go out the window. In fact my wife Cindy who average size lady hands pre fers the Jumbo Tour wrap from Golf Pride. So there is room for doing what feels best and gives us the results we look for when it comes to things like grips, heavier or lighter, back weighting (or not) putter style (blade or mallet) heavier putters (or not) and so on.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

All of the clubs in the bag are designed to have progressively more shaft lean at address (and impact) as the clubs get shorter.

Easy enough to do an experiment with the club putting the end of the handle in the same spot (maybe a spot on the wall) and for the club face to be square to the target line each club has to be slightly farther back than the previous one as the clubs get shorter.

That's why I (and at least one notable club fitter) believe each club in the bag should be played progressively further back in the stance as they get shorter.

That way the hands can stay in the same spot at address and impact with the club face square to the target line.

Robert Fleck's picture

Submitted by Robert Fleck on

Doc or Robert M or someone else with the books in front of them can correct me if I'm wrong, but loft on any club is measured as the angle between the face of the club and the shaft of the club. So that measured loft would occur when the club shaft is perpendicular to the ground, or as Surge says when we are at full extension at impact. The sole of each club is built in such a way that each club progressively leans a little further forward, thus the progressive shift of the ball back in the stance, but that has no effect on loft. One of the reasons many of us hit the ball higher using the PPGS is because we are NOT delofting our clubs at impact. We get the true loft of the club, and the full power of our arms extended to their maximum and accelerating through impact. No deep divots and high, penetrating ball flight.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Was interesting last night to hear Johnny Miller say that most golfers today would do best to imitate Steve Striker with his no wrist break swing and how he nips the ball off the turf rather than taking a divot. Where do we repeatedly get that advice?! If not for the lights out putting that Ernie showed in their match (along with a couple of rare misses by Steve S.) Striker would have won that close singles match.
Your and Steve's summation of face lofts and built in designed loft are quite accurate Robert. The only thing we might add is that the clubs also become more upright and shorter and therefore easier to swing vertically as they progress from long to short irons. This too is why the lie angles are so important. It has been observed that most golfers who push/slice would play much better with more upright verses flat lie angles. Shots left out to the right of target are often because of having lie angles that are too flat. Most continue to blame the swing and alignment when often it may be that club. Thus my loft and lie machine is my most valuable tool.

JKPassage's picture

Submitted by JKPassage on

Hey Robert, Johnny Miller had some positive commentary for once. LOL! He was very complimentary of Steve Stricker's swing, along with Ernie Els, and Angel Cabrera. Not sure if anyone noticed, but Cabrera's swing is pretty vertical. If you all remember, Stricker was off the tour for a while and considered quitting golf altogether. Glad he didn't. He is an inspiration to many of us. He has rebuilt his swing in a way that Tiger should copy.

Brady's picture

Submitted by Brady on

Check the volume settings on your player in the window. The video does have sound. It's happening to all youtube videos in the last couple of days. It's not on our end.

gkey63's picture

Submitted by gkey63 on

Hello. Something that Don said a while back set off one of those light bulb moments for me. In the setup, Don holds the shaft out with the butt pointing at his left hip to square his club face while addressing the ball. I was pointing the butt end towards my belt buckle which, essentially, left my club face open at impact. I've made the adjustment and am now hitting the ball much much straighter. In fact, on the 8th hole par 3 @ Newlands Golf & CC in Langley, BC, from the blue tees, scoped at 173 yards, I hit my 22* hybrid, bounced once on the green and disappeared in the hole. What a thrill!! My very first hole-in-one, a sweet shot. Not only that, I am now at an all time career low 5.6 index. Thanks again Don for your unflinching enthusiasm for the sport we all love. Cheers,
Greg C
Co-organizer for

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on


Congratulations on your hole in one. I have been playing golf for nearly 45 years and am yet to experience one. I have hit 10 or so in from 75-180 from the fairway and chipped in from around the green dozens of times. Seems that happens nearly every round out if not every other round. My wife Cindy has only been playing for 3 years. She only knows the PPGS. She has come really close to getting a hole in one already and I predict she'll get one before I do.
Awesome stuff Greg! Way to go:)

gkey63's picture

Submitted by gkey63 on

Thanks Robert,
I tell ya, it's a thrill like no other. I've had eagles on par 4's and chip ins myself but there is nothing like the adrenaline rush of watching that ball disappear into the hole. I've also been playing since I was 12, then took a 20 year break before rediscovering my love for the game and with the help of Don and the PPGS, I can safely say I'm playing the best golf of my career. Thanks for your kind words, appreciate it. Cheers,
Greg's picture

Submitted by michaelemaser@g... on

I have been under the assumption there is a minimal amount of forward shaft lean in the PPGS, as it is described in the master set up, and in the full swing, as prescribed in the illustrated booklet sold on this site. In fact the sequence photos on the cover of the booklet clearly show the set up, and the point of impact with the hands ahead of the blade and the ball. I understand completely about the shallow path on the FUS, but to say there is no forward lean, I think is very misleading, and could result in a reverse tilt at impact. I understand the forward shift of the COG is not what we want, and swaying is a really big no-no, but to say there is no forward lean is not being consistent.

Kevin McGarrahan's picture

Submitted by Kevin McGarrahan on


I think there is a difference of opinion on what is considered forward shaft lean.

In the PPGS, you should have a roughly straight line from the lead shoulder joint to the club head; this is not shaft lean.

In other swing methods, the hands are pushed ahead, creating an angle between the arms and club shaft. In this case, at address, the lead arm is actually pointed ahead of the ball and the shaft is leaned forward; basically a forward press.

As Don says, "... the fewer the angles, the better."

Keep it vertical,

Kevin McG

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

There is still shaft lean in the PPGS. Perhaps because of his enthusiasm and emphasis you missed the point. There should be no added shaft lean than what is naturally there by design. (See the above discussions). The 'tour striker' is designed to force the golfer to have added forward lean and to 'hit down'. We don't advocate that and that is the spirit and motive of Surges topic on shaft lean. There are exceptions of course as he did say too. For example, when we want to de-loft a club to keep a shot low. Many chip shots are another. So I'm sure Surge is not saying we don't recognize the natural shaft lean that normally keeps the hands ahead of the club head on many full shots until impact where the arms straighten out through the ball and then the club head passes the hands. Perhaps the balance of another video from last year may clear it up for you. In that one Surge talks about the hands indeed being ahead of the club head at set up when the handle (grip end) is angled at the forward hip. In fact he teaches us to take our club grip in the air in front of our bodies with this hands ahead angle at the forward hip.The hands remain ahead of the club head until impact and the hands rotate during that "nano second" of impact.

Watching this one may help.

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

There is another interesting aspect to how Surge sets up with different clubs.

With the wedge his club is very close to the ball at address. As the clubs get longer the distance between the club and the ball grows just about the same distance that the ball was moved progressively forward in the stance.

Sort of like Moe Norman but not as drastic. I picked up on that technique quite a while ago and I feel like it accomplishes two things. It allows my hands and the shaft to stay much closer to the same points and angles at address throughout the bag. It also gives me a head start in the back swing.'s picture

Submitted by michaelemaser@g... on

I have followed this blog for several years now, and I have purchased several videos. I get and watch the dailies, and I have had great success applying Don's methods. The design of today's clubs makes it physiologically impossible to hit the ball solidify without SOME forward lean. I'm very well aware that Surge doesn't advocate hitting down on the ball, but I'm sure during the downswing there is a little downward angle to be able to return the club back to the ball in the proper position. Steve's thought process at address is a product of this methodology, where one's hands must be ahead of the ball at impact. We're not trying to compress the ball off the turf, but trying to "nip" the ball first. In order to do this we must use some forward shaft lean.'s picture

Submitted by jwatts4@suddenl... on

I have not received any dailies since 9/27/13 and before that it was 9/8/13. I just wanted to check to see if anything was wrong, either with Surge or my subscription set up. I did notice that Surge was out of the country for a while and thought that may be the reason. I hope it was a good trip. Just wanted to check, so I don't miss anything. I continue to work on my swing and am improving, but have a way to go to get where I want. The journey is great. I did get a fitting and new clubs from Doc earlier this year. The combination of the new clubs and swing has been a challenge and fun. One big thing is that I am not laid up after playing, as was the past experience and had lead to very reduced playing. Thank you.

Brady's picture

Submitted by Brady on

You have set your account to not receive email. This is from your account:



Check your settings under "My Account" But being that we have averaged at least 4 dailies a week for almost two years now, you should know we haven't stopped :-D Don always makes sure and records a lot of videos before he leaves on a trip.

JKPassage's picture

Submitted by JKPassage on

Surge's schedule showed that he had a trip planned for Germany and elsewhere. No doubt, upon his return, he will have some real pearls of PPGS wisdom. In his absence, have we been practicing our PPGS swings? Are we keeping it vertical? Are we staying out of sacred burial ground? Are we making the 5 secrets our 5 fundamentals? Yes, we have!!!

Jerry Gaughan's picture

Submitted by Jerry Gaughan on

Surge and Surgites:
Any word on how DJ is doing? And what are is plans for the upcoming season? Myself - things are winding down, playing tomorrow our usual twlight. Last week had two birdies played solid, three 3 putts early cost me a good score. A lesson for all of you - always keep your own score. Played Fore Lakes last week - has a real hard par 5 1st hole made a 10, then doubled the 2nd = +7 for 2. I just told myself a hole at a time. Played the next 15 holes +5. Had a chance to shoot +2 on the back for my record and didnt know it. Played the last hole sloppy and doubled. Lesson learned. All of you take care aand hitem well.
Jerry - Warren MI

Steve Smith's picture

Submitted by Steve Smith on

I almost always shoot my best scores when I'm in a team competition and my personal score is lost somewhere in the back of my mind during the round and all I am focused on is making as many birdies as I can.

The goal in a double low ball game is always to come in at -5 to -8 on each side. When the rest of the team is struggling and it looks like those numbers are going to be hard to reach I play my best.

On the other hand if a couple of teammates get hot it's easy for me to lose focus on my own game and become a spectator or cheerleader.

alan1980's picture

Submitted by alan1980 on

Shaft lean is a product of a handsy swing using pronation of lead hand and radial deviation to create a 90 degree angle at the wrist joint. Problem with this hand action is one has to start it as a kid to master and it requires very fast hip action to square the blade. My suggestion is to use the rotator muscles of the shoulders and to prevent this action and actually use internal rotation with supinated forearms to lock the club in place. No rolling the blade open during the takeaway or backswing. The blade should always be on the target side of the shaft and be parallel to the spine angle when the shaft reaches parallel to the ground. This appears as a shut faced takeaway and the blade faces more towards the sky at the top. The swing is controlled by the rotators of the shoulder and the larger elbow joint of the trail arm not the wrists. ( no educated hands in this swing and that's very importantant) At impact the angle of attack will be closer to zero with all clubs for full swing. Remember the closer the shaft is to straight at impact the closer it is to maximum clubhead speed and higher launch. (Just remember that if the fore and middle finger knuckles of the lead hand move ahead of the wrist bones before impact you are slowing down and adding loft. And for all those people trying to hit on the upswing that is how it is done. Shaft lean means less clubhead speed and lower launch. Ok in high wind but very hard to be good at. It is very natural to feel as if you are hitting up on the ball when swinging in fact if the lead shoulder isn't a few degrees higher than the trail shoulder at impact it's a block to the right. 2-5 degrees difference is optimal. I always start all full swings with the shaft perpendicular to the ground and that is how Iron Byron does it and it works. Also the trail arm should pull the club to the top for any length of swing.