The Secret To Speed

For more clubhead MPH and more yards, turn to your hips

Takeaway Takeaway
At the setup, the hips sit a prescribed distance from the ball (which, of course, depends on your stature). This distance needs to be maintained in order for your legs, thighs and hip flexors to move the club with maximum speed.

Top As you initiate the backswing, the right hip should willfully accept the early transfer of weight. The important aspects here are that the right knee maintains its bend and that the right hip moves back just a little yet maintains its original flex. The left leg also plays a huge role in this section of the swing. The left thigh must stay “inside.”Most golfers tend to allow their left leg/hip to move in toward the golf ball, which pulls the right hip out of position, thereby destroying the entire setup.

Remember: The right and left hip flex is never lost, despite the presence of hip rotation. The key is to shift and turn without ever bending forward. The left thigh and foot stay inside and flex slightly toward the right knee.

At the end of the backswing, you’ll know you’ve properly maintained your hip flex in a solid position if your lower body center (aka your tailbone) still holds the position it established at address (save for a slight move to the right, for a right-handed golfer). Holding the lower body center in place creates tons of leverage because doing so requires turning the upper body against a stable lower body. I’m sure you’ve heard the terms “coil” and “X factor” before. Well, there it is—a powerful separation between the shoulders and the hips. It’s interesting how in a proper backswing, the hips and glutes move to the right without the right thigh and calf ever changing their position. This is due to the correct hip sit, both established at address and held during the backswing. It’s very powerful stuff.

Delivering the clubhead is simply a matter of reversing the movements of the backswing. The mistake most golfers commit here is moving the right hip toward the ball, a move that destroys the original hip flex (I told you that was important!).

In a powerful downswing, weight shifts to the left, with the right hip holding its original address flex. The right thigh and knee remain “inside,” yet move smoothly toward the left. This combination is what allows the arms and hands to deliver the clubhead on the desired inside path.

As the clubhead nears impact, the left hip and leg move left and “grow tall” (rise slightly), which creates room for the arms and hands to power the club through the hitting zone. Although the left hip rises and clears, it maintains its flex. This dynamic hold plays a huge role in power and path delivery. Without it, your swing will suffer.

At the point of contact, the hips dramatically shift toward the target so, basically, they get out of the way. Again, the hips clear without losing their original flex and, more importantly, without flexing toward the golf ball (reverse flex). The loss of hip flex through the hitting zone is a monster power leak.

In fact, it’s near impossible to retrace the backswing path on the forwardswing if the hips reverse flex and block the arms from moving on the correct return path.

The next time you see a Tour player swing, watch his or her hips, thighs and legs. They stay very much close to the position they hold at address. The hold of the hips, legs and thighs is absolutely paramount to establishing your power delivery system. In the photo above, notice how only a small amount of daylight exists between my hips and legs, yet my target-side hip and leg have moved strongly toward the target. This is the element of hip hold you’re after, and once you attain it, watch the yards pile up.

Joe Thiel is an award-winning PGA Master professional.


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