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The 3 most important areas of your golf body



This story is part of our new “GolfWRX Guides,” a how-to series created by our Featured Writers and Contributors — passionate golfers and golf professionals in search of answers to golf’s most-asked questions.


What are the three most important areas of your body for golf? They are:

  • The Hips/Glutes
  • The Core/Pelvis
  • The Scapula (shoulder blades)/Upper Back

Why are they important?

We focus on these three parts of the body because they are key to you golf swing — no surprise there! The reason they are key to your swing is that they are the three areas that have the biggest influence over what the club does. If the three key areas work properly then we have a better chance of making a repeatable and bio-mechanically efficient swing. You know, the kind of swing that repeats time after time and doesn’t require a lot of timing and manipulation from the hands. That swing is more likely to produce a consistent strike and better control over the golf ball.

Each key area requires a certain amount of both mobility and stability — mobility from the joints, stability from the muscles. This means that we can achieve the required range of motion (mobility), but with complete control and awareness of how the key area is moving (stability).

Before we look at each area individually, it is a good idea to get comfortable with the idea that during the golf swing, each movement of the body has an influence over another part of body. It’s a domino effect and is sometimes referred to as the kinematic sequence or kinetic chain of the golf swing. This principle is especially relevant to the three key areas as they have a very large influence on the rest of the body and ultimately the club head and your golf ball.

Let’s examine each area and talk about how we want them to function and what effect they have on our swing.

Key Area No. 1: The Hips/Glutes



The key to hip mobility is internal rotation; this is where your femur (thigh bone) rotates inwardly in your pelvis. If you are a right-handed golfer, then you make this movement in the right hip in the back swing and then in the left hip in your follow-through (see image 2). The opposite is true for lefties, of course.

We want a nice full range of motion in this movement so we can make a full hip turn both on the way back and on the way through. This hip turn is important because the amount of rotation we get affects the amount of trunk/shoulder turn, which also has domino-like effects further up the chain.



Our hips are stabilized by our glute (butt) muscles. If these muscles work properly, then we can control our hips and get them turning — not only to full range of motion, but also in the right direction and prevent non-efficient movements like lateral hip sway and slide (see figure 3). Good quality hip rotation will control where the hips are positioned in the golf swing and therefore where the trunk and shoulders are positioned and so on up the chain.


Key Area No. 2: The Core/Pelvis



The range of motion in the pelvis is mainly relative to pelvic tilt, both forward and back (see figure 5). We want good range in this movement because our pelvis has to go into a degree of forward and backward tilt during the swing. Any restrictions here can lead to a poor spine position in the swing and the associated compensations having to be made by the arms and hands (see figure 6).




Good core stability is crucial to not only efficient movements during the swing, but also to the health of our lower back and spine. Our core muscles are essentially the support system for our spine and we need to get them to a good level of stability, strength and awareness. Then we will have some solid protection for our lower back during the golf swing, which imparts considerable load and strain on our bodies. With great core stability, we can also control the pelvic tilt we talked about earlier and maintain a good spinal posture throughout your swing.

Key Area No. 3: Scapula (shoulder blades)/Upper Back



There are two things to cover here — rotational mobility in the upper back and mobility of the shoulder.

It’s no secret that we need to be able to rotate the upper back in order to make a decent shoulder turn. Without a good shoulder turn (between 75 and 100 degrees, depending on who you speak to) then you will either have a very short backswing, or you will make an inefficient movement somewhere else in the body to gain the required rotation (see image no. 8 for a typical lower body collapse compensation).

The key range of motion at the shoulder is external rotation (see image 9), we need good range here (more than 10 degrees) in order to set the club on plane.




The scapula has a huge influence on the movement and function of the shoulder, which affects the elbow, the wrist and ultimately the club. We can have fantastic range of motion in the shoulder, but if we are lacking control of the scapula then it is really difficult to get the club set in the right position and yep, you guessed it – we have to make an inefficient compensation somewhere else to do so.

With any luck, you now have a solid understanding as to why it is so important to have a combination of good mobility and solid stability in each segment. It might also be worth checking out the video summary below.

Video Summary

For a more in-depth guide to the common issues in these key parts of the body and some simple corrective exercises and videos, go to my website and sign up for the free ebook “3 Key Areas of Your Golf Body.”

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter and Rehab Expert contracted by PGA Tour Players, Division 1 colleges and national teams to deliver golf fitness services. Via his Golf Fit Pro website, app, articles and online training services, Nick offers the opportunity to the golfing world to access his unique knowledge and service offerings.



  1. Pingback: Hip To Be Squared (Shoulders) - The Golf Shop Online Blog

  2. Steve

    Nov 5, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Could you comment on what fault you might think results in a right handed golfer having pain in the right side (mid back below scapula – rib cage area)? Is it lack of hip mobility? Swing speed around 105 mph

    • Nick Randall

      Nov 5, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Really difficult to say without an assessment sorry. If you can get a medical or fitness professional to check your hip, thoracic and shoulder mobility that is a good start.

  3. Dr. Frankenstick

    Nov 2, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Nick, can you please send me specific recovery exercises for a rotator cuff surgery? Extensive damage means serious rehab to be ready for next spring.

    • Nick Randall

      Nov 5, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Hi Dr. Frankenstick,

      I would be happy to continue this conversation via email. I would need more information from you to do due diligence to the exercise program. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]

  4. Jeff

    Nov 1, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Hey Nick I’ve had 2 Piriformis surgerys I the last five years. Could this be why I have no hip rotation. What should I do to strengthen my hips.

  5. rockflightxl1000

    Oct 31, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Hey Nick, would immobility in the scapula be a huge cause for “lifting” up as your club approaches the top of your backswing?

    • Nick

      Oct 31, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      Hi rockflighttxl1000,

      If it’s the body lifting up then it’s more likely lack of mobility in the hips and/or thoracic spine.

      If it’s the arms lifting up then either lack scapula mobility or stability/control could well be the cause.

      Difficult to say for sure without swing video AND a physical assessment

  6. Alex

    Oct 31, 2014 at 1:11 am

    Can you demonstrate or somehow convey what happens if you have too much anterior pelvic tilt? I’m wondering if/when it would become an issue.

    • Nick

      Oct 31, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Alex,

      Too much anterior pelvic tilt has a couple of different negative effects:

      1) A lot of strain in the lower back. The lumbar spine is being put into a position where it’s not being supported by the muscles that are supposed to be holding it in place. Not good for long term spinal health.

      2) It puts the pelvis into a position that makes it hard for the hips to rotate, causing compensation from the rest of the body to get the club into a decent position.

      3) It also puts the spine in a position that makes it hard to rotate from the upper back, again you’ll see compensations from either legs or arms to manipulate either the torso or the club (or both).

      Hope this helps!

      • Alex

        Oct 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm

        So one of the things that leads to better striking for myself is the feeling that the butt is pushed out, what seems like a lot. It does add tension in my lower back, but my thighs and pelvis seem to be more supported.

        I just notice that some pros seem to have their pelvis more tucked under their upper bodies than others. But someone like Adam Scott seems to have a bit more of it..almost S posture. But, just because his shape looks that way, doesn’t mean it’s actually too far, right? Some people have more lower back curvature?

        • RogerinNZ

          Nov 1, 2014 at 12:35 pm

          Alex, Nick,
          I have spent over 18 months using a Chiropractor to
          straighten me up from this type of back.Had a Huge Arch.
          Plus my neck was bent over, one thigh twisted.
          What i have now is a lovely smooth flow in a swing!
          Spine issues gone, less stress on the body.Happiness!

  7. Ronald

    Oct 30, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Stop overthinking the swing. This article is a absolutely rediculous

    • birly-shirly

      Oct 31, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Could not agree less with this comment. The subject of the article is physical capability. If you don’t have the physical capability to make a good swing, then you’re destined to introduce compensation moves. That’s where over-thinking starts.

      • Nick

        Oct 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm

        Thank you for replying in my behalf birly-shirly. I couldn’t have put it better myself!

  8. Cankles

    Oct 30, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Yeah…… but you know what they say about “feet of clay”?

    If you don’t have good feet and ankles, none of the above matters. It’s amazing how flexible Adam’s ankles and feet are. That’s what facilitates this whole thing. If he was stiff in his ankles, he would not be able to swing like he does.

    • Nick

      Oct 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      Hi Cankles,

      I agree, ankle mobility is important. It just didn’t quite make it into my top 3.

      Thank you for the input though.

  9. Pingback: The 3 Most Important Areas Of Your Body For Golf | Golf Gear Select

  10. TR1PTIK

    Oct 30, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Well written with good information that can help the average golfer understand more about a) their body, and b) their swing. Any specific tips for working on those areas somewhere down the pipe?

    • Ronald

      Oct 30, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      The average golfer doesn’t need to know about the scapula. This is the biggest joke

      • HitEmTrue

        Oct 31, 2014 at 10:29 am

        Most average golfers make no real effort to improve. Not real sure that is his target audience…

        • Nick

          Oct 31, 2014 at 3:43 pm

          Spot on HitEmTrue, this article isn’t aimed at your average golfer – it’s far too technical! The information that would get delivered to the player is put much more simply, without the use of technical jargon.

    • Nick

      Oct 31, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Hi TR1TIK,

      Yes absolutely, I’ll write some articles on how to target each area with some simple exercises. Is there an area you are looking at in particular for yourself?

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The Wedge Guy: My top 5 practice tips



While there are many golfers who barely know where the practice (I don’t like calling it a “driving”) range is located, there are many who find it a place of adventure, discovery and fun. I’m in the latter group, which could be accented by the fact that I make my living in this industry. But then, I’ve always been a “ball beater,” since I was a kid, but now I approach my practice sessions with more purpose and excitement. There’s no question that practice is the key to improvement in anything, so today’s topic is on making practice as much fun as playing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the range, and always embrace the challenge of learning new ways to make a golf ball do what I would like it to do. So, today I’m sharing my “top 5” tips for making practice fun and productive.

  1. Have a mission/goal/objective. Whether it is a practice range session or practice time on the course, make sure you have a clearly defined objective…how else will you know how you’re doing? It might be to work on iron trajectory, or finding out why you’ve developed a push with your driver. Could be to learn how to hit a little softer lob shot or a knockdown pitch. But practice with a purpose …always.
  2. Don’t just “do”…observe.  There are two elements of learning something new.  The first is to figure out what it is you need to change. Then you work toward that solution. If your practice session is to address that push with the driver, hit a few shots to start out, and rather than try to fix it, make those first few your “lab rats”. Focus on what your swing is doing. Do you feel anything different? Check your alignment carefully, and your ball position. After each shot, step away and process what you think you felt during the swing.
  3. Make it real. To just rake ball after ball in front of you and pound away is marginally valuable at best. To make practice productive, step away from your hitting station after each shot, rake another ball to the hitting area, then approach the shot as if it was a real one on the course. Pick a target line from behind the ball, meticulously step into your set-up position, take your grip, process your one swing thought and hit it. Then evaluate how you did, based on the shot result and how it felt.
  4. Challenge yourself. One of my favorite on-course practice games is to spend a few minutes around each green after I’ve played the hole, tossing three balls into various positions in an area off the green. I don’t let myself go to the next tee until I put all three within three feet of the hole. If I don’t, I toss them to another area and do it again. You can do the same thing on the range. Define a challenge and a limited number of shots to achieve it.
  5. Don’t get in a groove. I was privileged enough to watch Harvey Penick give Tom Kite a golf lesson one day, and was struck by the fact that he would not let Tom hit more than five to six shots in a row with the same club. Tom would hit a few 5-irons, and Mr. Penick would say, “hit the 8”, then “hit the driver.” He changed it up so that Tom would not just find a groove. That paved the way for real learning, Mr. Penick told me.

My “bonus” tip addresses the difference between practicing on the course and keeping a real score. Don’t do both. A practice session is just that. On-course practice is hugely beneficial, and it’s best done by yourself, and at a casual pace. Playing three or four holes in an hour or so, taking time to hit real shots into and around the greens, will do more for your scoring skills than the same amount of range time.

So there you have my five practice tips. I’m sure I could come up with more, but then we always have more time, right?

More from the Wedge Guy



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The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better wedge player by doing these simple things



As someone who has observed rank-and-file recreational golfers for most of my life – over 50 years of it, anyway – I have always been baffled by why so many mid- to high-handicap golfers throw away so many strokes in prime scoring range.

For this purpose, let’s define “prime scoring range” as the distance when you have something less than a full-swing wedge shot ahead of you. Depending on your strength profile, that could be as far as 70 to 80 yards or as close as 30 to 40 yards. But regardless of whether you are trying to break par or 100, your ability to get the ball on the green and close enough to the hole for a one-putt at least some of the time will likely be one of the biggest factors in determining your score for the day.

All too often, I observe golfers hit two or even three wedge shots from prime scoring range before they are on the green — and all too often I see short-range pitch shots leave the golfer with little to no chance of making the putt.

This makes no sense, as attaining a level of reasonable proficiency from short range is not a matter of strength profile at all. But it does take a commitment to learning how to make a repeating and reliable half-swing and doing that repeatedly and consistently absolutely requires you to learn the basic fundamentals of how the body has to move the club back and through the impact zone.

So, let’s get down to the basics to see if I can shed some light on these ultra-important scoring shots.

  • Your grip has to be correct. For the club to move back and through correctly, your grip on the club simply must be fundamentally sound. The club is held primarily in the last three fingers of the upper hand, and the middle two fingers of the lower hand. Period. The lower hand has to be “passive” to the upper hand, or the mini-swing will become a quick jab at the ball. For any shot, but particularly these short ones, that sound grip is essential for the club to move through impact properly and repeatedly.
  • Your posture has to be correct. This means your body is open to the target, feet closer together than even a three-quarter swing, and the ball positioned slightly back of center.
  • Your weight should be distributed about 70 percent on your lead foot and stay there through the mini-swing.
  • Your hands should be “low” in that your lead arm is hanging naturally from your shoulder, not extended out toward the ball and not too close to the body to allow a smooth turn away and through. Gripping down on the club is helpful, as it gets you “closer to your work.
  • This shot is hit with a good rotation of the body, not a “flip” or “jab” with the hands. Controlling these shots with your body core rotation and leading the swing with your body core and lead side will almost ensure proper contact. To hit crisp pitch shots, the hands have to lead the clubhead through impact.
  • A great drill for this is to grip your wedge with an alignment rod next to the grip and extending up past your torso. With this in place, you simply have to rotate your body core through the shot, as the rod will hit your lead side and prevent you from flipping the clubhead at the ball. It doesn’t take but a few practice swings with this drill to give you an “ah ha” moment about how wedge shots are played.
  • And finally, understand that YOU CANNOT HIT UP ON A GOLF BALL. The ball is sitting on the ground so the clubhead has to be moving down and through impact. I think one of the best ways to think of this is to remember this club is “a wedge.” So, your simple objective is to wedge the club between the ball and the ground. The loft of the wedge WILL make the ball go up, and the bounce of the sole of the wedge will prevent the club from digging.

So, why is mastering the simple pitch shot so important? Because my bet is that if you count up the strokes in your last round of golf, you’ll likely see that you left several shots out there by…

  • Either hitting another wedge shot or chip after having one of these mid-range pitch shots, or
  • You did not get the mid-range shot close enough to even have a chance at a makeable putt.

If you will spend even an hour on the range or course with that alignment rod and follow these tips, your scoring average will improve a ton, and getting better with these pitch shots will improve your overall ball striking as well.

More from the Wedge Guy

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Clement: Don’t overlook this if you want to find the center of the face




It is just crazy how golfers are literally beside themselves when they are placed in a properly aligned set up! They feel they can’t swing or function! We take a dive into why this is and it has to do with how the eyes are set up in the human skull!

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