Lateral Motion: The Difference Between PGA Tour Players and Amateurs

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In this video, we look at the key differences between PGA Tour players and low-handicap amateurs in the way they move the center of the torso and the center of the pelvis throughout the golf swing.  

What we have found in our 3D research is that the classic “Reverse-K” setup is not something the best players in the world employ. Also, we see professionals in the downswing keep the torso on top of the pelvis (or even let it get in front of the pelvis) until the hands reach around waist high. At this point, the tour professional is able to push hard into the ground with his lead leg, which causes the pelvis to finally shift out in front of the torso.

Over the years in golf instruction, it seems that the industry as a whole has taken the static position of impact and tried to employ it in the swing via the Reverse-K setup and keeping the torso behind the pelvis during the entire motion. It does appear to make things simpler, but the problem is that this teaching can cause a severe in-to-out swing direction. It can also cause a reduction in ground-force production, as the player is not able to push as hard with the lead side late in the downswing (it would cause him to topple over!). Over time, we believe the teaching has caused countless players — especially better players — to struggle with hooking and pushing the ball.

Now, it’s true that most golf instructors have worked with a chronic slicer who has benefitted from some “Reverse K” feeling in their swing, especially if the golfer has the upper body well to the left of the pelvis at the top of the swing. Remember that in this video series, however, we are highlighting the lower-handicapper amateur who is trying to take their game to the next level.

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32 COMMENTS

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  1. It’s obvious that when you sway too much to achieve a classic “weight shift” by laterally moving your hip mass excessively you will lose control of your Center of Pressure path track, which then affects the distribution of the GRFs between back and down swing.
    Another consideration is once the hip mass momentum is generated and the energy is flowing in the kinetic chain you want an efficient transfer of momentum from your spinning hips to your shoulders. Swaying hips does nothing to increase energy production even though it feels energetic. Also “forward” motion of the hips is not an additive force vector to the clubhead as has been promoted through intuitive physics of yore.
    Pro golfers are finding the most efficient use of their body simply through trial-and-error-and-error-and…. then we have force plates to link body movement to transfer of forces.
    Congratulations for utilizing 3D and force plates to dig out the truth …. without masochistically digging in the dirt in futility.

  2. I understand what you are trying to get at, but it seems tome that in order to do this, you need to have a strong core in order to keep your entire swing supported. If you do not have a strong core, I can see A LOT of lateral movement and inconsistent ball striking.

    Other questions: Is it the address or impact position that makes a difference as opposed to the set up? What about people that have a difficult time keeping their center behind the ball at impact? I see a number of LPGA players that do not seem to stay centered.

  3. You guys are making this way more difficult than it needs to be. Just set up to the ball with your whole body stacked on top (hips over feet, shoulders over hips) – no tilting either way. Then just swing the damn club around that base. Its really easy to be honest. Amateurs think too much – stop! This video and article are absolute golden if you apply it.

  4. Isn’t this basically the “stack and tilt” method that has now been mostly disputed and left in the dust by most swing coaches and tour pros? I’m not sure old “connection” pro Jimmy Ballard would agree with this, or that pro swingers such as Curtis Strange would be looking anything like this. Would they?

  5. Best I can tell, you guys are getting closer and closer to Moe Norman’s single plane swing.
    Although Moe’s swing caused him to dip down to compensate for his distance from the ball, his hip motion (and shoulders) was lateral. A modern interpretation of Moe’s swing doesn’t need the stretch to the ball. Moe didn’t use the ground as well as he could have. But witness Bryson Dechambeau’s swing — centered and using the ground — and still single plane. That’s what the average golfer needs. Your research is for the advanced golfer who is starting to figure out why he has been having back problems.

  6. Further to this article, there’s a good articles in the June 04,2017 edition online from Forbes regarding this technology in the lifestyle section written by Scott Kramer. I’m a Canadian so this tech isn’t available as far as I know.
    Regardless the author of this article ( Forbes ) is very satisfied with this analysis and solution to his swing flaws. Personally, my swing isn’t great due to sports injuries ( hip and knee replacement plus, a bent lead arm). Still my fundamentals are decent ( I’m a 8.8 factor/ index ) but I know having read this WRX article the comparisons (pro vs.amater) are valid. I just wish I could execute the fundamentals better.

  7. Maybe for scratch amateurs. But … amateurs need the reverse k concept. Most amateurs either try to flip the club under the ball while making a reverse weight shift … or they just lift up the club and beat down on the ball.
    I respect excellence … and helping the best in the world.
    However, this is bad information for most golfers.

  8. I agree, more info needed. Also this is 1 amateur’s swing and 1 Pro’s swing. Should at least be another pro swing. Should also be some commentary on identifying the issue and drills to fix. PGA pros hit down on the ball on average as they have so much speed that they sacrifice a bit of distance to in favour of accuracy. The model pro may do this. If we need to hit up more like an LPGA player cause of lack of speed does this observation on stacked posture still apply …

    • Correct, we only used 1 pro for this video, but I’m having a hard time thinking of one current PGA tour play in our database who doesn’t align their centers that way. The pro in the video is representative of ourthe swings we have captured.

      That particular pro also has a positive AoA. This does not confine a player to hitting down on it. (We also have plans to address the “average pro hits down” idea. That’s not what the data shows when the actual club face is tracked, but that’s for another video).

  9. Cool video.
    Who is the tour player?
    I tried to figure out what guys like bubba and JB are doing. I gained a lot of distance and my pain went away. Have you put them on your system?

    • Awesome to hear you’re longer and pain free – that’s a strong combo!

      We’ve collected the data on several pros who move it north of 120pm, but we haven’t collected it on Bubba or JB yet.

    • In our view, athleticism is a good thing. But let’s also keep in mind that the golf swing takes less than a second from address to impact, so the amount of athleticism it takes is not a lot or very taxing by comparison. The oldest player we have in our database is 73 years old. He describes himself a way overweight and the only exercise he gets is from playing golf… certainly not a pure tour level athlete by anyone’s definition. Last year, after learning to neutralize his upper and lower (like depicted in the video), he shot posted 66 and 68 in tournaments. He won his 4th tournament last weekend since the change. He’s said on numerous occasions how easy it is to swing now.

      Everyone should do what’s best for them, but this has not been physically difficult for our amateur clients to do… in fact, most say it is much easier and less painful.

  10. Not enough detail in explanation – just enough where people will do bad things. Vid needs more length. I think there is a balance between stacking and too much stacking, from what my instructor says, who teaches PGA Touring Pros, and the vid needs to clear this up. He should also talk about the first move going down. Just not enough here to be helpful, and just enough to be harmful.

    • We’d love to make these much longer and go into greater detail, but we’ve been asked to keep them as concise as possible. I agree completely that overdoing it in either direction can be done, which is why we like neutral as a great demonstration/starting point.

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