Initiating The Downswing – What Moves First?

October 14, 2019


One of the questions that I often get from golfers is “How should I start my downswing?” Through the myriad of books and tips people read there is no shortage of suggestions so it can be very confusing: “turn you left hip”, “slide your hips forward”, “bump your hip”, “drop the arms into the slot”, “drive your legs”, “tuck your right elbow”, etc.

Part of the confusion is because each expert or pro might be telling you what he/she is “thinking” or “feeling”. As an example, if you look at Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, he describes initiating the downswing with the hips.

HOWEVER, if you watch high speed video, his hips are NOT what moves first!

Think of the downswing as a sequencing of events. The first part of the downswing should be STORING energy and moving the club to the proper plane. The second half of the downswing should be delivering the energy through a strong, late, heavy twist. Think of a baseball player hitting a pitch: he strides forward with his leg, the bat levels out “on plane”, THEN he rotates his body and hits the pitch.

If you come over the top and hit high, weak slices you may be executing this sequence in reverse. If you do ROTATE FIRST (perhaps because you are thinking of one of the thoughts mentioned above), the club gets thrown OUTSIDE the plane and all that is left at the bottom is a compensatory, wristy swat that glances across the ball with no compression.

Try this drill to learn the sequencing. Break the swing down into 3 parts and execute slowly:

1. Go to the top of your swing and stop. As you turn hold your lower body steady and lean your upper body behind the ball. (See photo to the left).

2. Without moving your hips or shoulders, drop the club behind your back and maintain your wrist cock. Notice that my right elbow is NOT touching my side as is often described, but RATHER is pointing inside my right hip. This may feel extreme at first, but will allow you to put the club on plane and maintain your lag. (See photo to the right).

3. Now you are ready to hit with maximum power on the right delivery path. Use a strong body twist to pull the club through to a full finish. Your shoulders and hips will be open at impact just like a baseball player.

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