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A fix for overactive hips, a cause of “The Flip”

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As we all know, the golf swing is powered from the ground up, but many golfers take that too far — particularly when it comes to hip action.

Hip action is an important factor for controlling the low point and impact alignments of a golf swing, but when it’s overused it can cause the lower body to outrun the the upper body and create impact issues and severe mishits. So how do you fix excessive hip use? I’ve used my teaching tools, including Trackman data from a recent lesson, to explain.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.13.34 AM

In this sample swing, you can see that this student’s hips have slid too much laterally — they’re way past the vertical yellow line that I drew. This caused the student’s head to stay back in an effort to counterbalance his body movement. When this occurs, the right shoulder dives downward for too long in the downswing, and the low point shifts rearward. The move also causes the golfer’s pivot to stall, and his hands had to fire early in effort to move the low point father forward so he didn’t hit behind the ball.

You know the shot I’m talking about. With an iron, it causes very thin contact that sounds “clicky” and has little compression. 

When golfers make this move, the ball will usually fly wildly offline since the flip interrupts the normal closing rate of the club face. Dynamic loft and vertical impact points will be compromised because of the flip move as well. It’s not a great combination, wouldn’t you agree?

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.13.54 AM

This wildly off-line shot was setup by improper hip motion.

So what’s the solution?

The best way to combat this type of swing is to reduce hip action by hitting small shots with your left foot turned in to feel yourself posting up more through impact. When you do this, your rear shoulder will move more “down and out,” which moves moving your low point more forward through impact without the need for any make-up moves. 

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.14.14 AM

A Word of Caution: When doing this drill, only swing at slow-motion speed. Hitting full speed shots like this may cause injury to your left knee.

When you turn your left foot inward, you’ll feel the instant posting up of your lower body. From there, it’s up to you to move the right shoulder through impact so the pivot of the upper body will continue to “pull” the arms and hands through. In order to do this, you’ll need to feel like you’re hitting low punch shots, which will cause you to increase shaft lean at impact. It will also reduce your dynamic loft by adding more compression.

Remember, this is a two-fold process:

  1. You must slow the hips.
  2. The upper body pivot must drive the arms through impact, leaning the shaft more forward.

Once you have this feeling at partial speed, work up to full speed with this same type of connected, punch-shot feeling until you can do it at Mach 1 with your driver!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. JP K

    Jul 15, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Extremely impractical advice. Why not use “the marching move” which you can easily incorporate into the swing and take to the course much like 14 of 17 multiple major winners have?

  2. Rob

    Jul 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Wow, so many people must have missed the point of this article judging by the number of shanks.

    Reducing hip action means reducing the lateral slide of the hips, not slowing down the rotation of the hips. Two totally different things.

  3. dr bloor

    Jul 12, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Actually, it can be as big a problem for hitters as golfers. If your hips “fly open” through your swing, you’re more vulnerable to losing a lot of power and/or making a lot of weak contact, probably to the right side (for right-handed hitters).

  4. other paul

    Jul 11, 2015 at 2:16 am

    I started rotating my hips as fast as I can and am doing the opposite of this article and I gained 25 yards on every club in the bag. No flip, just a rotational swing with very little slide.

    I suspect people who are reading the same articles I am clicked shank…

  5. Tom Stickney

    Jul 11, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Forget the photo of Hunter. It does not show what the article is about

  6. Ryan

    Jul 9, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    So Hunter Mahan flips ?

    • may be typos

      Jul 10, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      To a degree, I’m sure everyone does
      You gotta release sometime

  7. gdb99

    Jul 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Can’t wait to get to the range to try this!
    I can feel my hips sliding forward instead of turning, and my hips are always tight after playing a couple days in a row.
    Thanks!

  8. Tom Stickney

    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    One last note…never hit full speed shots with any club with your left foot turned in.

  9. Nolanski

    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Great read. I always had my front foot turned open slightly per Hogan’s Five Lessons book. But it just wasnt for me because my hips would just fly open.

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Instruction

The Big Shift: How to master pressure and the golf transition using prior sports training

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If you’re an #AverageJoeGolfer, work a day job, and don’t spend countless hours practicing, you might be interested in knowing that sports you played growing up, and even beer league softball skills, can be used to help you play better golf. We’re sure you’ve heard hockey players tend to hit the ball a mile, make the “best golfers”, while pitchers and quarterbacks have solid games, but baseball/softball hitters struggle with consistency. Did you know that a killer tennis backhand might help your golf game if you play from the opposite side? Dancers are way ahead of other athletes making a switch to golf because they understand that centeredness creates power and consistency much more efficiently than shifting all around, unnecessary swaying, or “happy feet.”

Lurking beneath fat shots, worm burners, and occasional shanks, are skillsets and motions you can pull from the old memory bank to apply on the golf course. Yes, you heard us right; your high school letterman jacket can finally be put to good use and help you improve your move. You just need to understand some simple adjustments different sports athletes need to make to be successful golfers.

In golf, shifting from your trailside into your lead side is what we’ll call the TRANSITION. Old School teachers refer to this motion, or shift, as “Foot Work”, New-Fangled-Techno-Jargon-Packed-Instruction uses “Ground Pressure/Force” to refer to the same concept. Don’t worry about the nomenclature; just know, as many GolfWRXers already do, that you must get your weight to your lead side if you want any chance at making solid and consistent contact. TRANSITION might be THE toughest motion in golf to master.

The good news for you is that TRANSITION happens in all other sports but in slightly different ways, depending on the sport. Golfers can more quickly learn TRANSITION, and speed up their swing learning process by understanding how prior sport experience can be applied to the golf swing.

[The basics of a solid golf move are; 1) you should have a SETUP that is centered and balanced, 2) you move your weight/pressure into your trail side during the TAKEAWAY and BACKSWING, 3) TRANSITION moves your weight/pressure back into your lead side, and 4) you FINISH with the club smashing the ball down the fairway. Okay, it’s not quite as easy as I make it sound, but hopefully our discussion today can relieve some stress when it comes time for you to start training your game.]

Baseball/Softball Hitters

Hitting coaches don’t like their hitters playing golf during the season, that’s a fact. The TRANSITIONS are too different, and if they play too much golf, they can lose the ability to hit off-speed pitches because their swing can become too upright. Golf requires an orbital hand path (around an angled plane) with an upright-stacked finish, while hitting requires batters to have a straight-line (more horizontal) hand path and to “stay back or on top of” the ball.

Now we apologize for the lack of intricate knowledge and terminology around hitting a baseball, we only played up through high school. What we know for sure is that guys/gals who have played a lot of ball growing up, and who aren’t pitchers struggle with golf’s TRANSITION. Hitters tend to hang back and do a poor job of transferring weight properly. When they get the timing right, they can make contact, but consistency is a struggle with fat shots and scooping being the biggest issues that come to mind.

So how can you use your star baseball/softball hitting skills with some adjustments for golf? Load, Stride, Swing is what all-good hitters do, in that order. Hitters’ issues revolve around the Stride, when it comes to golf. They just don’t get into their lead sides fast enough. As a golfer, hitters can still take the same approach, with one big adjustment; move more pressure to your lead side during your stride, AND move it sooner. We’ve had plenty of ‘a ha’ moments when we put Hitters on balance boards or have them repeat step drills hundreds of times; “oh, that’s what I need to do”…BINGO…Pound Town, Baby!

Softball/Baseball Pitchers, Quarterbacks, & Kickers

There’s a reason that kickers, pitchers, and quarterbacks are constantly ranked as the top athlete golfers and it’s not because they have a ton of downtime between starts and play a lot of golf. Their ‘day jobs’ throwing/kicking motions have a much greater impact on how they approach sending a golf ball down the fairway. It’s apparent that each of these sports TRAINS and INGRAINS golf’s TRANSITION motion very well. They tend to load properly into their trailside while staying centered (TAKEAWAY/BACKSWING), and they transfer pressure into their lead side, thus creating effortless speed and power. Now there are nuances for how to make adjustments for golf, but the feeling of a pitching or kicking motion is a great training move for golf.

If this was your sport growing up, how can you improve your consistency? Work on staying centered and minimizing “happy feet” because golf is not a sport where you want to move too much or get past your lead side.


Dance

My wife was captain of her high school dance team, has practiced ballet since she was in junior high, and is our resident expert on Ground Pressure forces relating to dance. She has such a firm grasp on these forces that she is able to transfer her prior sports skill to play golf once or twice a year and still hit the ball past me and shoot in the low 100s; what can I say, she has a good coach. More importantly, she understands that staying centered and a proper TRANSITION, just like in Dance, are requirements that create stability, speed, and consistent motions for golf. Christo Garcia is a great example of a Ballerina turned scratch golfer who uses the movement of a plié (below left) to power his Hogan-esque golf move. There is no possible way Misty Copeland would be able to powerfully propel herself into the air without a proper TRANSITION (right).

Being centered is critical to consistently hitting the golf ball. So, in the same way that dancers stay centered and shift their weight/pressure to propel themselves through the air, they can stay on the ground and instead create a golf swing. Dancers tend to struggle with the timing of the hands and arms in the golf swing. We train them a little differently by training their timing just like a dance routine; 1 and 2 and 3 and…. Dancers learn small motions independently and stack each micro-movement on top of one another, with proper timing, to create a dance move (golf swing) more like musicians learn, but that article is for another time.

Hockey

Hockey is a great example of the golf TRANSITION because it mimics golf’s motions almost perfectly. Even a subtlety like the direction in which the feet apply pressure is the same in Hockey as in Golf, but that’s getting in the weeds a bit. Hockey players load up on their trailside, and then perform the TRANSITION well; they shift into their lead sides and then rotate into the puck with the puck getting in the way of the stick…this is the golf swing, just on skates and ice…my ankles hurt just writing that.

If you played hockey growing up, you have the skillsets for a proper golf TRANSITION, and you’ll improve much faster if you spend your time training a full FINISH which involves staying centered and balanced.

Now we didn’t get into nuances of each and every sport, but we tried to cover most popular athletic motions we thought you might have experience in in the following table. The key for your Big Shift, is using what you’ve already learned in other sports and understanding how you might need to change existing and known motions to adapt them to golf. If you played another sport, and are struggling, it doesn’t mean you need to give up golf because your motion is flawed…you just need to know how to train aspects of your golf move a little differently than someone who comes from a different sport might.

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Instruction

Clement: Effortless power for senior golfers

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Are you struggling with range of motion? Want more EFFORTLESS POWER? We are truly the experts at this having taught these methods for 25 plus years, while others were teaching resistance, breaking everyone’s backs and screwing up their minds with endless positions to hit and defects to fix. Welcome home to Wisdom in Golf!

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Instruction

Clement: How to turbo charge your swing

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The shift in golf instruction continues and Wisdom in Golf and GolfWRX are right out there blazing a trail of fantastic content and techniques to get you to feel the most blissful, rhythmic golf shots you can strike! This here is the humdinger that keeps on giving and is now used by a plethora of tour players who are benefitting greatly and moving up the world rankings because of it.

The new trend (ours is about 25 years young) is the antithesis of the “be careful, don’t move too much, don’t make a mistake” approach we have endured for the last 30 years plus. Time to break free of the shackles that hold you back and experience the greatness that is already right there inside that gorgeous human machine you have that is so far from being defective! Enjoy!

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