By Chris Redelinghuys
You are hitting balls at the local driving range and your attention is drawn to the gorilla that is consistently pounding the ball 280 yards straight in to the fence at the end of the range. To your amazement, the guy is 5'10" and weighs 155 pounds soaking wet! Standing there completely awestruck, you ask yourself, "How in the world does he hit it so far?"
If I ask a student "What areas of improvement are most important to you?" Almost everyone say, "Consistency, Lower Scores, and distance."
One of the most common faults for most weekend golfers is the amount of hip rotation at the top of the backswing. Most golfers think, "Bigger Swing = More Distance."
Nearly all Pro's average hip rotation at the top of the backswing is 45 degrees. The majority of Armature golfers usually rotate their hips between 55 to 60 degrees. The extra 10 to 15 degrees of hip rotation on the backswing is now an extra 10 to 15 degrees that the golfer has to rotate to get back to the ball on the downswing. This creates more room for inconsistency and loss of power because the swing from start to finish is about 1.5 seconds long and a lot can go wrong if you over swing.
Power in the golf swing comes from the difference in hip turn versus the shoulder turn--otherwise known as the "X-Factor." Pro golfers allows a shoulder turn of 90 degrees at the top of the backswing.
So how do you keep your hips from rotating too far back? There are a couple of key checkpoints to see if you are over-rotating. Set up to a ball, take a backswing and hold it at the top. If your right knee (left knee for lefties) is straight, then your hips and belt buckle are probably facing the wall behind you and your left knee has probably caved in toward your right knee. You have over-rotated on your backswing.
To correct this, think of keeping your knees in place and your hips facing the ball when you make your backswing. Make sure your right foot is square to the target line and the knees are flexed at address. When you look down at your right knee, it should appear to be slightly inside of your right foot. Try taking the club away and keeping both of your knees in place.
At the top of your swing, you should feel that your hips have hardly turned and you will feel a stretch in your left side. Your left shoulder should be over the right knee with 80-85% of your weight on your right side.
Practice this in front of a mirror. You will see that your knees haven't moved, they're still flexed, your hips are no longer facing the wall behind you, and your left shoulder is over your right knee.
Some caution with this drill would be, Do not get in the habit of swaying back to the right in order to keep the hips facing the ball. If you do, you will notice two things. Your right knee will be outside of your right foot and your right foot will most likely be rolled over on its outside edge.
By practicing this drill, and eliminating any excess hip rotation, you will create more coil in your backswing. This will result in greater club head speed and more distance. See a Professional Golf Teacher to get your hip rotation checked.