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Trying to clear your hips could be hurting your golf swing



As most golfers know, the downswing starts from the ground up. The proper kinematic sequence is as follows: the hips move left and open up to the target, followed by the torso, then the arms and finally the club. Slow-motion video and modern technology has shown us this.

Despite the knowledge of the proper kinematic sequence, however, players are better off practicing the start of their downswing a different way. They should strive to keep their hips closed (relative to the target), let their arms swing down and only then allow their hips to clear as the arms swing through.

“Why,” you’re probably asking?

In my experience, golfers who consciously try to get their hips open at impact by aggressively clearing them from the start can create timing issues… and the dreaded two-way miss. Yes, for maximum speed, golfers still need to hit shots using their hips, but they need to make sure they use them at the correct time.

When golfers stay more closed off with their hips and upper body in the start of the downswing, their lower body will bump left toward the target and their club shaft will shallow out as their arms transition down. This is a key move for delivering an inside, powerful path to the golf ball. Once in this closed position, you can then hit the ball with the right side of your body as hard as you want, producing maximum power and speed. This will also keep the clubhead square to the body through the shot as your right side rotates around your left side; a major key for consistency.

October splt 1

When we add speed to the swing, centrifugal force will take over if you allow it, and our hips and body will naturally clear as we swing our arms. The downswing does not need to be a consciously controlled movement, rather an instinctive move toward the target. The majority of amateurs are way too active with their bodies, especially their hips, and they don’t often realize it until they see it on film.

Amateurs often get in trouble when they try to re-create still images that were taken at full speed from tour players; for example, open hips at impact. This gives players and even instructors the idea that these images should be taught. When I walk up and down driving ranges, I constantly see players rehearsing their downswing trying to get their hips open as possible at impact or clearing them as fast as they can early in their swing. This is a false sense of power and is not necessary if our body angles and backswing sequence are correct.

Watch PGA Tour players’ rehearsals and practice swings before their shot. Notice the sequence: they swing their arms and hips, never aggressively trying to clear their hips early.

In the video below you’ll see practice swings of Henrik Stenson and Patrick Reed. Do you see them aggressively trying to clear their hips?

Clearing your hips early can cause several faults. Some players will come “over the top,” as clearing early can cause your upper body to open early, pushing your arms out from your body, producing an out-to-in swing path and the dreaded slice. Better players who clear early can still manage to stay closed off with their upper body and shallow out the shaft, but they then have to square the clubface with their hands and will become “handsy” at impact, or the club will get stuck behind them.

incorrect october

My favorite drill to combat clearing early and to get the proper feeling of how your hips and body move on the downswing.

  1. Take your normal stance when addressing the ball.
  2. Drop your right foot back behind your left (if you’re right-handed).
  3. Swing from this position.

This will give you the feeling of being closed off with your lower body. To golfers with over-active hips, this will feel like more of an arms swing, but they will still notice their hips have rotated.

drill october

Once you have the feeling of the correct downswing timing, you will instantly notice how much more effortless your swing feels. Better timing and fewer moving parts equals better ball striking and a swing that is much easier on your body.

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Kelvin is a Class A PGA golf professional in San Francisco, California. He teaches and has taught at some of the top golf clubs in the Bay Area, including the Olympic Club and Sonoma Golf Club. He is TPI certified, and a certified Callaway and Titleist club fitter. Kelvin has sought advice and learned under several of the top instructors in the game, including Alex Murray and Scott Hamilton. To schedule a lesson, please call 818.359.0352 Online lessons also available at



  1. Grant

    Jun 15, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Awesome article! Why is it that with holding my right hip back like your saying is really tough with the driver and 3wood? With the longer clubs it’s more difficult. I don’t have issues with the 4 iron at all. I shoot in the 70s so idk. Snaphook toe shots.

  2. stephenf

    Nov 4, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    People will probably argue with you (a lot of them will be 15-handicappers who know everything about theory), but what you’re saying is time-tested and correct.

    What all these people so wrapped up in “rotation” don’t understand is that it will happen more or less naturally if your path and plane are decent. Throwing yourself into big efforts at rotation usually results in the rotation forces (mainly the torso and hips) shoving the club around and destroying the swing and its path.

    It’s also true that a big rotational move early in the downswing forces you to hold _back_ through impact if you’re going to save the shot at all. Which is to say that if you really want your hips and shoulders to “clear,” don’t do it early. Once the path gets outside and steep at the outset of the downswing, it’s all rescue from that point on, and usually not a successful one. That’s the kind of swing where everything just stops moving through impact.

    I used to get people to toss a ball a few feet and then try to throw it 30 yards and 70 yards. Unless you’re just totally nonathletic, you’ll step into the throw and rotate more aggressively as a response to what you’re trying to do with the swing of your arm and the snap of your hand, whether it involves more force or less force.

    You’re probably aware of people like Seymour Dunn, and after them people like Toski et al., who have repeated one of the best lines I’ve ever heard. I used it often when I was playing competitively and teaching: “Never confuse something that happens with something you have to try to do.”

  3. Mark

    Oct 30, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I read this article and then watched some golf. I can definitely see this in their swings.

    I’ve always had a problem with over active hips (and right leg) at the start of the downswing.

    This move fixed that!

    First round doing this at University Ridge with aerated greens, shot a 70!

    Several thumbs up on this one!

  4. Sometimes a Smizzle

    Oct 22, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I heard over on youtube that if you have fast hips, you have to feel like you start your swing with your hands. It worked for me. I rotate crazy hard and hit it pretty far. But i always hit a snap hook because my hands couldnt catch up and i would twist the club while trying to get it caught up. Fix: start the swing with the hands. I had slow motion vid of the two different swings i would post if my phone hadn’t been wiped recently ????

  5. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Ya gotta love golf advice. Two days ago we had the boys telling us to clear our hips. Today we have Mr. Kelley telling us not to clear our hips. Sheesh, I’ll just buy an Iron Byron and take that onto the course to stand in for my golf game. Can Iron Byron putt?

  6. Geo

    Oct 21, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I do this drill and it feels good. I try it with my normal swing after and I clear the hips early and i feel all the problems. Hard to get the feel from the drill. Is there a better maybe transition drill that might help?

    • Kelvin Kelley

      Oct 22, 2016 at 12:36 am

      Feel your hips stay closed off when you swing your arms down, the way the drill forces you to feel

  7. Pingback: Trying to clear your hips could be hurting your golf swing | Swing Update

  8. john

    Oct 20, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    interesting article.
    if you slide forward with the hips bringing that club way on the inside can mean the player has to ‘flick’ their wrists at the ball to be able to make effective contact and not end up with the massive downward AoA that Henrik Stenson has – which in itself creates far more inconsistency. Turning through it is the only way to be consistent, you just need to separate the hips and shoulders properly and that is the issue you’re talking about here – not the need to slide forward and throw the club way on the inside and way behind you.

  9. TR1PTIK

    Oct 20, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    I’ve struggled to grasp this concept, but the more I watch tour players closely the more I realize the truth of this.

    During one of the last lessons I had this past season, my instructor told me to “feel” like I was starting down with hands and arms first and to stay over the ball as if I were trying to hit a “smother hook” (his words). When I got it right I could tell a noticeable difference in how the swing felt. It was considerably more effortless and we saw club speed jump by almost 4mph simply because my sequence was better.

    My biggest problem now is getting this motion ingrained and firm up my wrists a little at the top. I have a tendency to cock the wrists too much and then release early. I have a 105~ ss on average, but could only muster about 1.43 (at best) smash factor leading to significant loss in distance. GREAT ARTICLE!

  10. Pickle

    Oct 20, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Great advice. I wish I had it 5 years ago. I spent 3 years trying to rotate my hips open faster so I could hit it farther. Went from a +4 to a 1. Opening hips too early caused all kinds of swing plane issues – steep, a bit over the top, and army’s. I’m slowly getting my old swing back. But it’s taken a long time and I do the Drill you mention every range session.

    • Kelvin Kelley

      Oct 22, 2016 at 12:39 am

      Pickle, good to hear this drill helps you!

  11. Joe Burnett

    Oct 20, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    This article is exactly right. Many amateur golfers hear “get your hips through,” but they actually may be getting them through way too early. You have to have your lower body and upper body coinciding with each other perfectly.

    This is why it’s important to get lessons from a professional and not one of your buddies!

    • Kelvin Kelley

      Oct 22, 2016 at 12:38 am


      Thanks for the advice.

    • Ramrod

      Oct 25, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      ‘You have to have your lower body and upper body coinciding with each other perfectly’.

      No you don’t. As somebody said above, you need the upper and lower body to work INDEPENDENTLY. If you spin your hips and shoulders at the same time you’re coming way over the top, out to in, and all manner of other bad things.

  12. Richard Grime

    Oct 20, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    I’m not too sure about this. I hit too far from the inside. Too narrow and lose posture in the downswing, clearing hard left brings me down on a more outside path but still not too steep. If I overdo it then start left hip diagonally right first then clear left.

    • Gonzo

      Oct 20, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      You are overthinking your hips. You are probably losing posture because you are not maintaining the flex in your rear leg. It’s probably straightening at some point which for most people not name Rory or Brooks doesn’t work. Article is exactly right, you cannot actively think about turning or bumping your hips in a fraction of a second it takes to make your downswing.

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The Wedge Guy: What really needs fixing in your game?



I always find it interesting to watch how golfers interact with the practice range, if they do so at all. I certainly can figure out how to understand that some golfers just do not really want to get better — at least not enough to spend time on the practice range trying to improve.

What is most puzzling to me is how many golfers completely ignore the rationale for going to the range to at least warm up before they head to the first tee. Why anyone would set aside 4-6 hours of their day for a round of golf, and then not even give themselves a chance to do their best is beyond me. But today, I’m writing for those of you who really do want to improve your golf scores and your enjoyment of the game.

I’ve seen tons of research for my entire 40 years in this industry that consistently shows the number one goal of all golfers, of any skill level, from 100-shooter to tour professional, is simply to hit better golf shots more often. And while our definition of “better” is certainly different based on our respective skill level, the game is just more fun when your best shots happen more often and your worst shots are always getting better.

Today’s article is triggered by what we saw happen at the Valspar tour event this past Sunday. While Taylor Moore certainly had some big moments in a great final round, both Jordan Spieth and Adam Schenk threw away their chances to win with big misses down the stretch, both of them with driver. Spieth’s wayward drive into the water on the 16th and Schenk’s big miss left on the 18th spelled doom for both of them.

It amazes me how the best players on the planet routinely hit the most God-awful shots with such regularity, given the amazing talents they all have. But those guys are not what I’m talking about this week. In keeping with the path of the past few posts, I’m encouraging each and every one of you to think about your most recent rounds (if you are playing already this year), or recall the rounds you finished the season with last year. What you are looking for are you own “big misses” that kept you from scoring better.

Was it a few wayward drives that put you in trouble or even out of bounds? Or maybe loose approach shots that made birdie impossible and par super challenging? Might your issue have been some missed short putts or bad long putts that led to a three-putt? Most likely for any of you, you can recall a number of times where you just did not give yourself a good chance to save par or bogey from what was a not-too-difficult greenside recovery.

The point is, in order to get consistently better, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are losing strokes and then commit to improving that part of your game. If it isn’t your driving that causes problems, contain that part of practice or pre-round warm-ups to just a half dozen swings or so, for the fun of “the big stick”. If your challenges seem to be centered around greenside recoveries, spend a lot more time practicing both your technique and imagination – seeing the shot in your mind and then trying to execute the exact distance and trajectory of the shot required. Time on the putting green will almost always pay off on the course.

But, if you are genuinely interested in improving your overall ball-striking consistency, you would be well-served to examine your fundamentals, starting with the grip and posture/setup. It is near impossible to build a repeating golf swing if those two fundamentals are not just right. And if those two things are fundamentally sound, the creation of a repeating golf swing is much easier.

More from the Wedge Guy

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Clement: It’s hard to hit the driver badly when you’re doing this



Mu and I go through the swing of the driver in slow motion to show the difference between hitting at the ball and then trying to move it to target versus collecting the ball from the top of the tee and releasing it into the flight plan. Check out the video to learn what this means for your golf swing.

Also: Congrats on Savy getting another personal best of 337 yards at the WLD event in Mesquite!

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How to hit a fade…according to YouTube, a robot, and GolfWRX members



How to hit a fade. At some point, if you aren’t a habitual slicer of the golf ball and are able to hit a draw with regularity, in your quest to become a better golfer, you’re going to want to know how to do this.

Without debating the relative merits of a draw versus a fade, it’s agreed that working the golf ball both ways is key to to scoring, positioning off the tee, and risk minimization. If you’re a golfer who is currently only slinging draws, we have some advice for you on how to hit a fade from three very different sources.

Ben Hogan how to hit a fade

Ben Hogan: A man who knew how to hit a fade


How to hit a fade…

…according to a robot (that is, A.I. language model ChatGPT):

A fade is a type of golf shot that curves gently from left to right (for a right-handed golfer). If you want to know how to hit a fade, follow these steps:

  1. Set up for the shot: Aim your clubface at the target, but align your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly to the left of the target. This open stance will help promote a left-to-right spin on the ball.
  2. Grip the club: Hold the club normally, but slightly weaken your grip by turning your hands slightly to the left (again, for a right-handed golfer). This will help you hit the ball with an open clubface.
  3. Swing the club: On your backswing, keep your clubface square to the target for as long as possible. Then, on your downswing, try to swing slightly from the inside to out, which will help produce the left-to-right spin on the ball. Finally, make sure to follow through towards the target with a high finish.
  4. Practice: Hitting a consistent fade can take some practice. Spend time on the driving range and experiment with different grip and swing adjustments until you find what works best for you.

Remember, hitting a fade is not about hitting the ball harder, it’s about controlling the spin and direction of the ball. With practice, you can learn to hit a reliable fade that can help you navigate tricky golf course layouts.

Hitting a fade takes practice, and it may take some trial and error to find the right adjustments for your swing. It’s also important to note that a fade is not necessarily the ideal shot shape for every situation, so it’s important to be comfortable with hitting a variety of shots on the golf course.

How to hit a fade…according to the most-watched video on YouTube on the subject

With more than one million views on YouTube, this video from Any and Piers of MeAndMyGolf not only covers hitting a fade but also discussing drawing the golf ball as well as hitting it high and low.

…according to GolfWRXers

And of course, our GolfWRX forum members have opinions on the subject.

The appropriately named PreppySlapCut said: “If the face is open to the path, the ball is going to fade. There’s several adjustments you can make to encourage that to happen, it’s just a question of what feels best for you and allows you to do it most consistently.”

Bladehunter says: “For me just the sensation of taking the club back outside your hands , and then swing left with a face square to target , while turning hard as you can makes for a pretty straight flight that won’t hook. Unless you stall and let your hands pass you.”

“That’s my take as an upright swinger If you’re really flat it’s going to be tough to time up and never have the two way miss Because you’re always coming from the inside and will rely on timing the face open or shut to see a fade or draw . For me it’s just set the face at address and feel like you hold it there until impact”

Dpd5031 says: “Had a pro teach me this. Aim a little left, stance slightly open, still hit it from the inside (just like your draw), but unwind chest hard letting handle follow your rotation so toe never passes heel. He called it a “drawy fade.” Ball takes off almost looking like it’s going to draw, but tumbles over to the right instead of left. Cool thing is ya dont give up any distance doing it this way as opposed to cutting across it.”

Scottbox says: “Jon Rahm is a good example. Watch the hand path of his backswing– his hands are not as “deep” as someone who draws the ball (i.e. Rory). And even though he has a slightly shut face, Rahm rotates his chest and hips very hard. Because there’s less depth to his backswing, the club gets more in front of him at P6. He’s most likely 1-2* outside in at last parallel. Brooks Koepka has a longer swing, but similar, in terms of his hand path– well above the shaft plane going up with less depth to his hands at the top, and slightly above the plane coming down.”

“Most good modern players rotate pretty hard with their hips and chest to stabilize the face, but the difference between those who draw it and those who hit a baby cut is often seen in the way they “engineer” their backswing patterns.”

Check out more of the “how to hit a fade” discussion in the forum thread.


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