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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: [email protected]

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

Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive

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Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301

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In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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Instruction

An awesome drill for lag that works with the ball!

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Many lag drills have come and gone in this game because they have a hard time working when the ball is there! How many times do you hear about someone having a great practice swing and then having it all go away when the ball is there? This one is a keeper!

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