Stack and Tilt seems to be the hot golf concept right now. Since my original two articles, I continue to get a lot of traffic looking for information about Stack and Tilt. I’d like to look at it a little closer.
I’m not going to give a tutorial on the technique. I can’t do better than the original article at Golf Digest. What’s more interesting to me is the reaction I’ve gotten from people in person as well as what I’ve been reading all over the web. Many people seem to have a misconception about what’s going on in the swing.
Some people have looked at the photo sequence of Aaron Baddeley in Golf Digest and have trouble seeing the real difference between the Stack and Tilt and the typical modern swing. Some people claim that Baddely isn’t actually doing anything different except taking a shorter back swing.
So what I wanted to do is grab a video of Tiger Woods and a video of a Stack and Tilter and compare them. The Stack and Tilt guy in this case is Will MacKenzie. I actually used two clips of Tiger Woods because neither of them had everything I wanted to show. The first clip shows his address, while I used the second clip to show the top of the back swing and the impact position.
Let’s have a look.
This first image shows both players side by side at address. MacKenzie is on the left, Tiger is on the right:
There are several big differences here. First, you can see how Tiger’s spine angle tilts much more to the right. In both cases, the player’s spine angle extends through the ball. But look how much further back MacKenzie is playing the ball. Also, notice the pronounced tilt in Tiger’s hips. MacKenzie’s are almost level.
Here are the two at the top of the back swing:
Again, there are fairly significant differences. MacKenzie’s back swing is somewhat shorter. Here’s where we see the “Stack” in the Stack and Tilt. The center point of MacKenzie’s shoulders and hips are still in a line. Compare that with Tiger who is really on his right side there. His shoulders are centered over his right hip.
Another important distinction: I’ve heard people ask where the “tilt” is in the Stack and Tilt. The spine angle is tilted ever so slightly toward the target. Now, I admit, that looking at this photo, it looks like his spine is straight up. But imagine it this way: pretend you’re standing right behind MacKenzie in that photo and used one finger to touch the small of his back and the other finger to touch the spot right between his shoulder blades. The tip of the finger touching the spot between his shoulder blades would be a little closer to the target than the other finger. Try it for yourself (disclaimer: you should probably warn strangers before laying hands on them at the driving range. Saying, “Hey, I was checking you for Stack and Tilt” is a lame pick-up line).
(Update: After watching the instructional DVDs, I have learned that the above analysis is, in fact, not where the “tilt” comes from in the name Stack and Tilt. The left-tilt of the spine is not in relation to the target, but is in relation to the rest of the body. This is part of what allows the shoulders to turn in a circle instead of shifting laterally. Plummer and Bennett do a great job of explaining this in the DVDs.)
Finally, let’s look at the impact positions.
There are some very pronounced differences here. For instance, look how far behind the ball Tiger’s head is. MacKenzie is still almost right on top of the ball. Also, you can see that MacKenzie’s hips are still virtually level, while Tiger’s hip tilt has actually increased. MacKenzie’s left side is already straight and Tiger is still getting there. This is due to the can-crushing move with the left leg (see the Golf Digest article). That’s what allows him to get those hips thrusting upward, allowing him to shallow out his swing path to keep from smothering the ball.
It looks like MacKenzie is going to make impact with a slightly descending blow, while Tiger is level or slightly ascending. I don’t know how typical this is for the Stack and Tilt, or if it was a mistake. That could cost MacKenzie a little distance.
There you have it. I hope that clears up some of the misconceptions about the Stack and Tilt versus the modern golf swing. Keep in mind that when you watch Tour pros play, they have such incredible grace and tempo that their swings can look very similar, especially when the finish positions might be fairly close. But when you look at the detail, the differences become much more clear.
Effectiveness of the Stack and Tilt Swing (Life in the Rough)
Stack and Tilt Instructional DVD Set (Life in the Rough)
Golf Digest Revisits the Stack and Tilt (Life in the Rough)
Stack and Tilt: A Follow Up (Life in the Rough)
The Stack and Tilt? (Life in the Rough)
The New Tour Swing (Golf Digest, June 2007)
Stack and Tilt Part 2 (Golf Digest, September 2007)
Stack and Tilt Critics Speak Out (Golf Digest, September 2007)