Two Motions Add Up to One Swing
By Dr. T. J. Tomasi, Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research
Two types of motion are combined during the downswing, and the timing of the transition from one (lateral) to the other (rotational) is the key to solid ball striking.
The downswing’s lateral motion begins at the top of the backswing when you transfer your weight from your rear hip to your forward hip. Meanwhile, your hips slide gently toward the target. As soon as the weight is deposited on your lead side (left for right-handed players), the rotational motion of your hips begins. Players who continue the lateral movement of the hips past the correct point tend to push slice the golf ball.
You’ll often hear the advice to start your downswing with the rotation of your hips, but that’s incorrect and will cause you to cut across the ball. If you make the opposite mistake and are late rotating your hips, as mentioned above, you will push the ball to the right, usually with a cut.
To avoid both of these mistakes, swing to the top and pause, and make a conscious effort to shuttle your hips toward the target. As soon as you feel the weight hit your left leg, rotate your hips aggressively. Do this in stop-action until it becomes comfortable, and then practice the shuttle-shift-rotate sequence in real-time.
Fundamentally, the inside (hips) moves the outside (the clubhead), so even though the transition from lateral to rotational motion is remote from impact, it is nonetheless the cause of impact. Thus, it is a swing principle that cannot be ignored.
Hall-of-Famer Juli Inkster is at full coil at the top of her swing, ready to begin her lateral hip shuttle. The vertical line on her belt buckle will help you track the movement.
You have to look closely to see Juli’s lateral weight shift, which is why I call it the “smallest, most important move in golf.” From this position, her hips will begin to rotate, and this will slot the club.
If you’d like to study with Dr. Tomasi and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.