How to Avoid Early Golf Club Face Rotation

By Todd Kolb
October 9, 2023

Early Golf Club Face Rotation Will Destroy Your Contact and Distance Every Time. Here’s How to Make Sure It Never Happens Again.

Nothing sabotages an otherwise good swing like early golf club face rotation. 

The worst part?

It can be hard to sense that you’re even doing it. You’re losing distance, hitting it off the toe, and having a little less fun every time you hit the course… and you don’t even know why.

If you’re wondering if this swing fault is behind your biggest golf frustrations, stick with me. I’m going to help you determine whether early golf club face rotation is plaguing your game. I’ll also explain how it happens and give you a foolproof plan for fixing it.

This is a tip that comes straight from my book, The Bad Lie: Why Traditional Golf Instruction is Failing You (And What to Do Instead)

Let’s get into it.

Signs of the Struggle

Your swing might be suffering from early golf club face rotation if:

  • You keep hitting shots off the toe.
  • You’ve got no distance.
  • You’re not taking divots.

There are other swing faults that can cause those issues, but early rotation is one of the most common, especially among senior golfers. If you see yourself in any of those red flags, it’s worth checking your swing for this particular bad habit.

What’s Going Wrong?

The short version is that you’re rotating the face open on the takeaway. But why does it happen?

It may be the consequence of not knowing how to pivot in the backswing. Most amateur golfers are taught to restrict their hips as they swing back. But that requires a decent amount of flexibility.

For just about any golfer over the age of 40, hip restriction makes it nearly impossible to get decent length in their swing.

Plus, it feels unnatural.

So without meaning to or really even thinking about it, you instinctively put the rotation into your arms instead of your body.

As a result, you open the clubface on the takeaway and wind up with a nightmare shot.

Now, The Bad Lie has some great instruction for building a senior-friendly golf setup that puts your body in the right position for maximum (painless) hip rotation. For now, let’s talk about what you can do to stop that golf club face rotation habit.

Golf Club Face Rotation: The Quick Fix

Ultimately, you want to make sure you position your clubhead at a 45-degree angle on the takeaway. But you and I both know the last thing you want to do is stare at your clubhead during your golf swing. So I’m going to give you something easier to notice.

We’re going to count knuckles.

When my students take their golf setup, I advise them to make sure they can see at least two-and-a-half knuckles on their lead hand. This shows them they have a strong enough grip on the club. 

As you swing away from the ball, those knuckles should shift out of sight. 

If the opposite happens—if you see three or four knuckles on the takeaway—then you know you’re rotating your hands toward your body and you’ve got the clubface wide open.

So how do you practice this when the moment passes so quickly?

You turn to this reliable old drill:

The Steps

  1. Take your setup.
  2. Rehearse only the takeaway. Draw the club away from the ball and check to make sure you only see two-and-a-half knuckles or fewer in the takeaway position.
  3. Return the club to the setup position.
  4. Rehearse the takeaway again.
  5. Rehearse the takeaway one more time.
  6. Take your shot.

Run this drill as many times as it takes to drop the rotation habit. If you’re like most golfers, it won’t take much. 

Want More Quick Tips Like This?

Check out The Bad Lie! With simple, straightforward instruction, it helps you diagnose and reverse common faults like this one. You’ll also get a customizable practice plan, course management tips, and more.

Most importantly, you’ll discover a natural, effortless golf swing designed to avoid errors like early golf club face rotation in the first place.

Already read The Bad Lie? Jump into the comments below and tell us what you thought! Or weigh in with your questions, differences of opinion, or anything else you have to say. We love talking golf, whatever the topic.


  1. Great tip and it works! Never heard this before in any of my lessons. Seems as I have gotten older the VLS swing is exactly what I need. Wish I had found this in my 50’s!

  2. Bob,

    Thanks for the kind words. Hope the information is helping your game. Have you read our book, The Bad Lie. Here is a link to one of the chapters on distance for senior golfers if you want to pick up some more clubhead speed.

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