Back Straight and Chin Up?

The Myth:

Is is often said golfers should setup with a straight back and neck. Two reasons often given for this are that it is athletic and allows room for the lead shoulder to turn under the chin during the backswing.

Reality:

Your torso should be flexed forwards towards the ground but the back should not be straight. While the spine should be relatively straight at the bottom it should flex forwards progressively more as you reach the top.

This will tilt your head downward so you are able to see the ball without straining to see it by looking out of the bottom of your eyes. The benefit of seeing the ball in this way, through your central vision, is that your brain will be able to process the image in more detail. If the eyes keep having to relocate the ball this leads to difficulties perceiving depth and thus makes it hard for the brain to compute where the ball is. The result of this are all kinds of compensations made on the fly, not the best way to play an already difficult game.

This curvature of the upper spine will also make it much easier for you to turn your shoulders in a circle without losing your inclination to the ground as the lead shoulder will be in position to travel downwards and back rather than just back, thus nullifying the room to turn the shoulder under the chin hypothesis.

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NO on the left
Depth Perception and ability to maintain inclination to ground compromised

YES on the right

Lower spine relatively straight and top of the spine curving progressively more towards the ball

I would encourage you to find videos on YouTube of some of the greats such as Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer and you will see they all exhibit these traits.