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This is the first installment in our How To Series — follow this plan to master the movements of the hips on the backswing!


Watch the series introduction here

This new series is all about helping you improve your golf swing quickly. We’re going to break the swing down into its component parts and give you specific practice direction — master these key elements of the swing and you’ll see improvement fast!

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Lucas Wald is a former touring professional turned instructor. Lucas has been recognized by Golf Digest as one of the Best Young Teachers in America (2016-2017) and the Best Teacher in Arkansas (2017). His notable students include Harris English, Brad Faxon, Brandel Chamblee, Jeff Flagg (2014 World Long Drive Champion), Eddie Fernandes (2018 World Long Drive Champion, Master Division), and Victoria Lovelady (Ladies European Tour). Lucas has been sought out by some of the biggest names in the game for his groundbreaking research on the golf swing, and he’s known for his student case studies – with juniors, adult amateurs, and tour pros – that show that significant improvement in power and ball striking is possible in golfers of all levels. Check out his website - lucaswaldgolf.com - and be sure to follow Lucas on social media.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Dec 23, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    @raybennett, if only it were true.

    Bobby Jones turned his torso (from hips to sternum turning together), using his feet and knees. There is no sway to the right.
    This video describes left hip moving closer to the ball. ie not a turn of the torso
    but a slide of hips back toward the right, which can only happen when shoulders tilt , left shoulder down. Its the False backswing made popular with the one plane swing, that ended the career of Mike Weir and others.

    Its easily proven. Stand straight and tilt the left shoulder down toward the ball. Note how right hip moves(sways to the right) and pelvis slides= FALSE BS TURN

    Compare that to standing straight and turning to shake hands with someone to your right, with your left hand. Rather than right hip moving laterally to the right, it moves toward the left.

  2. Kenny

    Dec 21, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    Trying to link movements of body parts together to try and make a swing is absurd.

  3. Don Toth

    Dec 18, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Really like Session 1 it’s a clear and simple plan for a start. Many students can get so far off track early in the swing motion. This give them a very clear plan to feel and execute right at the start of the movement.

    Very Nice!!

  4. Golf

    Dec 18, 2018 at 8:18 am

    I typically like Lucas but this is rubbish. Keep it simple and focus more on impact not the takeaway like Adam Young does. Better results, faster and simpler.

  5. geohogan

    Dec 17, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    x Factor might be valid if shoulder joints were simply blobs on the top end of the spine.

    The function of the scapula and clavicle allow a very free range of movement about the top of the torso.

    That range of motion has lead some to think that X factor means restricting hip turn… they would be wrong, leading to spine issues for countless golfers.

  6. Ray Bennett

    Dec 17, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Spot on advice. This is exactly what Bobby Jones did to start his backswing which he described in his publication Bobby Jones on Golf. It is great to see the old school instruction returning to the game.

    • smz

      Dec 17, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      … but it only applies to swings with a whippy hickory shafted club…!

    • geohogan

      Dec 23, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      @raybennett, if only it were true.

      Bobby Jones turned his torso (from hips to sternum turning together), using his feet and knees. There is no sway to the right.
      This video describes left hip moving closer to the ball. ie not a turn of the torso
      but a slide of hips back toward the right, which can only happen when shoulders tilt , left shoulder down. Its the False backswing made popular with the one plane swing, that ended the career of Mike Weir and others.

      Its easily proven. Stand straight and tilt the left shoulder down toward the ball. Note how right hip moves(sways to the right) and pelvis slides= FALSE BS TURN

      Compare that to standing straight and turning to shake hands with someone to your right, with your left hand. Rather than right hip moving laterally to the right, it moves toward the left.

  7. Raymond CHASTEL

    Dec 17, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Dear Mr Wald ,Nice and thorough presentation ,but I beg to differ:my right instep is firmly dug in the turf:then I start by pushing my left shoulder forward :I don’t move back as you show:my hips stay as straight as possible while the shoulders turn fully ,to create the differential HIPS-SHOULDERS (The X Factor ).The purpose is to coil the core to provide the maximum spring effect giving power.
    I’m 84 ,average build,5fet 9 ,160 pounds ,I play three /four times a week to a 7 Handicap on the FRENCH RIVERA ,all year round ,no winter,no winter greens over here

    • gaspard

      Dec 17, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      … and you drink beaujolais spritzers on your fremch golf course for nourishment and to combat thirst…. 😮

  8. Wyatt

    Dec 17, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Too many moving parts for me. When I take my setup, I make sure my left hip is slightly elevated and then I make my normal inside to out swing. The hips make a normal turn when doing that.

  9. Gary Slatter PGA

    Dec 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    1 and 2 were OK, I disagree with consciously turning your hips. They turn in response to your knees and shoulder turn, in my opinion.

    • smz

      Dec 17, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      …. and for some it’s the m a s s of the a s s according to Snead with his backswing squat that he carries into his downswing…..!

    • Jim

      Dec 18, 2018 at 10:05 pm

      No, turning shoulder pulls your ribs & torso. Does NOT necessarily make the hip turn. Bigger muscular golfers must make a coordinated hip turn to achieve the most they can get – and thin flexible people can get 100° of turn and not even notice they barely turned 25 degrees with their hips.

  10. MDH

    Dec 17, 2018 at 11:29 am

    I think you should demonstrate the hip turn showing it from the front and back view.

  11. smz

    Dec 16, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    WARNING: If your pot belly covers your belt buckle do not, I repeat, do not rotate your hips because that will twist your spine and your hanging pot belly will overstress your spine and cause lower back pain. Even a smaller protruding gut will hurt your spine sfter too many practice swings. You have been warned.

    • geohogan

      Dec 17, 2018 at 9:09 am

      HIps dont rotate. The knees move the hips.

      Prove it to yourself by tying a belt around your thighs above the knees so knees cant move.
      Now try turning your hips.

      Golf instruction that doesnt involve the knees leading the hips, is advocating shoulder tilt and hip slide…. a fake turn.

      • smz

        Dec 17, 2018 at 5:45 pm

        Okay, matey…. it’s the legs first that move the hips in a rotatory motion. Happy?

        • geohogan

          Dec 17, 2018 at 8:44 pm

          @smz, the legs move the torso. Hips happen to go along for the ride.
          Gary “The Swings the Thing” Slatter PGA knows.

          • smz

            Dec 17, 2018 at 10:38 pm

            torso –the trunk of the human body without, or considered independently of, the head and limbs.
            Hips are part of the torso… and the semi-flexible core separates the shoulders from the hips… called the X-Factor.

            • geohogan

              Dec 17, 2018 at 11:14 pm

              x Factor might be valid if shoulder joints were simply blobs on the top end of the spine.

              The function of the scapula and clavicle allow a very free range of movement about the top of the torso.

              That range of motion has lead some to think that X factor means restricting hip turn… they would be wrong, leading to spine issues for countless golfers.

            • geohogan

              Dec 18, 2018 at 3:14 pm

              http://www.oandplibrary.org/reference/uclamanual/UCLA-02.pdf

              When we use the full range of motion of the scapula and shoulder joint
              combined with turning of the torso 40-50 degrees, the so called X factor is easily
              achieved with sternum consistently aligned with the sagittal plane.
              ie little or no twisting of the spine.

            • geo

              Dec 18, 2018 at 3:37 pm

              http://www.oandplibrary.org/reference/uclamanual/UCLA-02.pdf

              The torso can be turned 40=50 degrees by the legs, knees and feet.

              The balance of BS, can be made by the shoulder joint and scapula without twisting the spine.
              ref. ROM above

              If the so called X factor is achieved by turning the upper torso more than the lower torso, injury to the spine will result.

      • Kenny

        Dec 21, 2018 at 11:33 pm

        Correct in that the hips don’t rotate independently, but the knees don’t move the hips. All motion stems from the feet. Sequence of motion in the joints is feet, ankles, knees, pelvis.

        • geohogan

          Dec 23, 2018 at 12:16 pm

          @kenny, agree totally, the hips dont rotate independently.(Hips have no means to move independently of lower limbs.)

          Suggest that sequence is feet, ankles, knees, torso(hips are moved with the torso).

          Once we understand this simply basic of human physiology, we must understand how foolish it is to think that we can possibly , “fire the hips”.

  12. Bert Gwaltney

    Dec 15, 2018 at 9:25 am

    OK, found the first segment. Thanks

  13. Bert Gwaltney

    Dec 15, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Introductions are OK, but should have included the first segment. I lost interest quickly.

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Instruction

Walters: Avoid these 3 big chipping mistakes!

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Chipping causes nightmares for so many amateur golfers. This s mainly due to three core mistakes. In this video, I talk about what those mistakes are, and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

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The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 1

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

 

Back pain is by far the most common complaint among regular golfers. It is estimated that up to 35 percent of amateur golfers endure lower back injuries. And in our experience working with tour players, the prevalence is even higher in the professional ranks! 

Back pain can affect our ball striking and short game, diminish our enjoyment of the game, or even stop us playing altogether. It can make us feel anxious about playing (and making the pain worse) and just generally disappointed with current performance falling way short of our expectations. 

There is certainly no shortage of information on the topic of back pain, and with myriad back pain products and supplement options available, confusion about the best path to pain-free golf is one of the main reasons we don’t actually do anything effective to alleviate our suffering! 

We aim to present in this article an easy-to-digest explanation of the common causes of back pain, alongside some simple and practical ways to address the underlying issues. 

The recommendations we make in this article are generic in nature but effective in many of the low back pain cases we have worked with. However, pain can be complex and very specific to the individual. You should seek the personalized advice of a medical or exercise professional before undertaking any form of remedial exercise.

Reason 1 – Lack of mobility in 2 key areas

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected. 

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Area 1 – Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercises – Hip Mobility

Foam roll glutes, you can also use a spiky ball

90 90 hip mobility drills, fantastic for taking the hips through that all important internal rotation range

90 90 Glute Stretch – great for tight glutes / hips

Area 2 – Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

Foam rolling mid / upper back

 

Cat / Camel – working the T-Spine through flexion and extension

 

Reach backs – working that all important T-Spine rotation

Reason 2 – Alignment and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right and back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and/or below.

For example, if we have short/tight/overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knee to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain. This would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance

Reason 3 – Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).

 

The 3 major spinal curves – 1-Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures. 

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

Fortunately, re-establishing good posture is really simple and you can combine the information and exercises featured in the videos below with the mobility exercises featured in the Reason 1 section above. The equipment used in the videos is the GravityFit TPro – a favorite of ours for teaching and training posture with both elite and recreational players.

 

In the next installment of this article, we will cover reasons 4, 5 and 6 why golfers suffer from back pain – 4) Warming Up (or lack thereof!), 5) Core Strength and 6) Swing Faults.

 

If you would like to see how either Nick or Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais – marnusmarais.com

Nick Randall – golffitpro.net

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