We’ve all been there before – you’re at the range and your mate asks you for a little help with their swing. This series of tips helps you find the quick solutions to some of golf’s most common swing ailments. This month Grant Hepburn looks at what happens when you fire your hips incorrectly – and how to prevent it
Your hips play a key role in maintaining the rhythm of your swing and generating plenty of power. Unfortunately, when your hips turn out of sequence, you will not only lose power (and therefore distance) but probably direction too. A lot of amateurs – often in the attempt to swing really hard – make the mistake of trying to force their hips to turn. The result is that the hips open up too early and, along with the loss of power because they are unable to transfer their weight effectively, they end up with a lot of blocked shots or hooks.
Have a look at the correct sequence. Here I swing the club from a good backswing position and make the correct move in the downswing that allows my arms to swing down on the correct path.
My arms stay close to my body and through impact the club can approach the ball from a powerful ‘inside’ path. The followthrough is balanced and the arms can swing through to a high finish – often an indicator of a correct swing path through the ball.
In the incorrect sequence, I again get into a good backswing position. But here’s the point – you can ruin a good backswing by making the wrong move with your legs and hips on the way down.
Notice how my arms and club have been thrown away from the body towards the ball. Look at how the club is visible in front of my body, whereas in the corresponding correct position the club can be seen still to be behind the player. This is an excellent checkpoint if you are on the range helping your friend.
From that position the club travels on a weak path across the ball to the left. This results in a loss of power but also the ball will take off left and stay there or it will start left and slice back to the right if the clubface is open. That means that you will never know where the ball is going to end up as you plan your shot.
From face on, the correct sequence shows how my legs transfer the weight from my right foot to my left foot as the downswing begins. Importantly, the hips and body remain closed as this initial transfer starts and that keeps my arms close to my body, allowing the club to slot into the correct position for delivery into the ball.
In the incorrect move you can see how my weight has not transferred across fully to the left but the hips and body have spun open early. If you are helping your friend, then look to see how early you can see the belt buckle and chest as the down swing starts – this position is wrong.
Stand a bit to the right of the ball with your feet together. Swing to the top and then take a step into the ball. The natural motion of this drill gets the weight transferring to the left axis before the hips and body start to unwind. A tip as you do this drill is to make sure that you still keep your head behind the ball at impact.
Hitting balls like this helps you to get the downswing started correctly and it also should start to produce a draw type shot.
Set up so that the club is behind the body as I’ve shown. It’s best to hook the club into the crook of your elbows as you take your setup.
Now turn your body, allowing your hips and shoulders to coil. Make sure you transfer your weight – and if you are helping a friend with this, look to see the shaft of the club rising on the right side as they transfer their weight, with the body remaining quite closed.
The incorrect way of doing the drill will show the body in an open position with the shaft quite level and the body facing the ball too early – as in this photo.