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Part of the power in the golf swing comes from the shoulder rotation being greater than the hip rotation at the top of the swing, known as the X-Factor.
Part of the power in the golf swing comes from the shoulder rotation being greater than the hip rotation at the top of the swing, known as the X-Factor. (Courtesy Photo)

For greater distance off the tee, fire the hips

By Brett Gorney,
PGA Director of Instruction, GolfTEC

This is the second part of a two-part series: Hip Rotation in the Golf Swing. Click here for Part 1.

Remember that little guy on the driving range from last tip - the one who was bombing his driver to the back of the range? Well, he wasn't hitting the ball that far just by keeping his hips from over-rotating on the backswing.

Part 1 of this article was about the hip rotation at the top of the swing. I wrote about turning the hips too far on the backswing - a common fault I see when teaching. Over-rotation of the hips creates a loss of power because the golfer then has to un-rotate even more in order to get back to the ball at impact.

Part of the power in the golf swing comes from the shoulder rotation being greater than the hip rotation at the top of the swing. Known as the X-Factor, this difference in rotation creates a stretch or coiling of the body. That puts you in a powerful position at the top, but this is only one-half of the golf swing.

All of the golfers that can hit the ball a long way have one thing in common. They are firing their hips around on the downswing. Another common fault I see in teaching is the student's hips not being open enough at impact. GolfTEC's motion analysis computer measures how many degrees the hips have turned open (towards the target) at the impact position.

Our data shows us that the PGA Tour player's hips are turned 40 degrees open at impact and most of the golfers I teach have only turned their hips 10 to 20 degrees open. This is typically the result of a lateral slide on the downswing rather than a turn of the hips. When the hips do not open through the impact area, there are usually several other reactions that amount to inconsistency and loss of distance.

As the golfer slides through the shot, inconsistencies and loss of distance arise from the bending of the left arm through the impact area (right arm for lefties). Ask yourself this question, "How consistent is 'bent' during a moving action?" As the left arm is bending, the club is being pulled away from the ball and inside the intended path.

Since the club is pulling in towards you, the ball is struck with a glancing blow and on the toe of the club resulting in a slice that doesn't go very far. Does this sound familiar? It is a very common fault, so here is a three-part drill to get you on your way to correcting the problem.

Start by setting up to the ball. Your belt buckle is facing the ball - this is zero degrees of rotation. We are looking for 40 degrees or more at impact. Keeping the club on the ground behind the ball and your upper body still, start turning your hips open toward the target. Your belt buckle should now be turned so that it is facing out towards your left foot. Now reset up to the ball, this time take a 1/4 backswing and make a slow downswing, turning your hips and stopping at the ball.

Again, your hips should be turned open toward the target so that your belt buckle is turned out towards your left foot. You will also notice that your left leg is straight and not bent at the knee. The last part of the drill is to take the 1/4 backswing and swing through this time trying to turn the hips as much as possible. Repeat this three-part drill 25 times and really concentrate on turning your hips open.

Here are some swing thoughts that a handful of my students think of when trying to turn the hips more through impact.

"Fire the right hip around."

"Fire the right knee towards the left knee."

"Get my left leg straight and left hip turned behind me"

"Get my right pocket turned to the ball as soon as possible."

"Turn my belt buckle towards the target"

"Hit the ball with my right hip."

There is no right or wrong thought, just find something that works for you. Practice this in front of a mirror so you can see the hips turning through. If you are keeping your hips from over-rotating on the backswing and doing it correctly, you should start to see more consistent ball contact and greater distance. Stop by a GolfTEC location to get your hip rotation numbers checked.

If you have any questions, please contact the store location nearest you or call 1-877-4GOLFTEC. Golftec is also on the web at www.golftec.com.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • hip rotation 2

    keith hatcher wrote on: Nov 9, 2004

    When I fire the hips as suggested, I hit the ball further & higher but it usually ends up 50yds right of the target. What's the easiest way to get the club head squared up at impact. I can carry a driver about 200 on a good day, staying squarer at impact, but ball flight rarely gets over 14 degrees.At 70 yrs old, am I supposed to be satisfied with that.


      • RE: hip rotation 2

        Bob O wrote on: Jul 22, 2013

        Need to stay looking at ball position with head behind ball until the right shoulder brings the head up and completes the swing.