What is Early Extension in Golf?

We, amateur golfers, tend to make something simple into a complex problem, when swinging a golf club. Understanding what causes certain issues in the swing, will assist in ironing out the problems quickly. That is the reason taking a lesson from a PGA pro rather than 100 tips from your mates, will set you on the right track. Understanding the golf “jargon” and terminology will make life so much easier when trouble strikes in your swing.

Early Extension

Beginners may think this has something to do with the wrists on the downswing when we “uncock” the wrists too early and lose power! No!

Put very simply, an early extension can be defined as any movement of the pelvis towards the ball during the downswing. The feeling of getting onto the toes through the swing is a clue to early extension. Coming out of the shot is another often-used phrase for this problem. There are many reasons or causes for this action, and we will address ways to overcome this fault. For the record, about 90% of amateurs go through this motion at some stage of their golf career, and it is not reserved for beginners only.

How to Overcome Early Extension

As with many swing problems, it all starts at Address. I like to use an analogy from the great Johnny Miller, who said, “if you don’t aim the rifle at the target how can you expect to hit it?”

Physical Disability

Any physical restrictions on the hips, knees, and ankles, can cause early extension in the golf swing. Understand what the problems are and work around them. Pain during the swing will cause a multitude of problems. Stretching exercises will help and get those core muscles into shape!

Width of Stance

The feet should be no wider than shoulder-width at address, with the weight on the balls of the feet. Too often golfers stand with the feet way too wide, which will restrict the ability to turn and clear the hips through the shot. When at address, rock from heels to toes to establish a feeling of balance. Watch how well-balanced the top golfers are and try to emulate them. Hold the finish position to get the feeling. Good balance is a priority.

Stand Closer to the Ball

Standing closer to the ball will encourage the hips to clear and turn out the way for the arms to come through the contact area. This is a great tip and an inch or two closer will improve consistent contact. Practice this in a mirror at home. Get this move right and the early extension will become a thing of the past.

Stay in Your Posture

Maintaining the posture from address through the entire swing is a basic fundamental that should be practiced continually. It can be done at home in front of a mirror or large glass pane. Coming out of the posture during the swing is often caused by an early extension of the pelvis. Take your set up with your backside touching the wall. Now take a complete swing while maintaining this position. Get the feeling of staying in posture!

The Silent Swing Killer

Early extension is often called the “silent swing killer”. It creeps into your game and can destroy confidence. The “dreaded” shank on short pitches and approaches is often caused by moving towards the ball on the downswing. Trying to hit the ball hard with extra spin can force you onto your toes and shank the ball. Play your short pitches and approach shots like “mini swings” and finish facing the target.

Some Swing Thoughts for Countering Early Extension

It is never a good idea to have too many swing thoughts in your head while attempting to play a shot. Most of the swing thoughts should be cleared when you address the ball. Don’t overcomplicate this process as it will leave you standing over the ball too long and negative thoughts will prevail. Use an Acronym and do a quick check at set up. Once this is completed, concentrate on just swinging the club with rhythm.

Here is a Checklist:

  • Stance not too wide
  • Stand closer to the ball
  • Good balance with weight on balls of the feet
  • Feel like your hips are set over your ankles
  • Your backside should be in a slightly squatting position
  • Maintain your posture through the swing

Final Thoughts

Anyone who has taken up the challenge of playing this wonderful game can attest to difficult, frustrating times out on the course. If the driver is working on the day, then the putter starts misbehaving. Fortunately, there are days when everything just works and a good score is recorded. This brings us rushing back the following day, only to find we don’t have the same rhythm as yesterday!

Early Extension can be overcome with a little bit of practice and using simple drills to instill the correct movements in the swing. This game starts with the setup and posture at address, and if this is achieved consistently, early extension will disappear from the swing. Take up the stance in front of a mirror every day, to entrench the correct feeling, and watch your scores tumble!

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