45[degrees]=power : How to use your hips for distance and accuracy – Brief Article

WAYNE DeFRANCESCO

When we look at the impact positions of the great ball-strikers–from Hogan, Nelson and Trevino to Couples, Duval and Woods–one point stands out: They are all at least 45 degrees open with their hips, while their chest and shoulders are also open, though not nearly as much. The view from the side shows us another interesting similarity: All of them have moved their hips laterally (more or less toward the target) between five and 10 inches. The question that has always perplexed me is, “If all these guys look the same, how do they get there?”

Here’s the answer that has helped my game as well as that of many of my students: To begin the downswing, you should push your hips in a straight line 45 degrees left of the target line, more “diagonal” than “lateral.” In this article, I’ll show you an easy way to visualize and execute this key move. Once you master it, you’ll make a more powerful, athletic, balanced swing, and you’ll hit the ball longer and straighter.

Set the umbrella at 45 degrees

To visualize the direction of the 45-degree hip move, lay shafts or clubs on the ground in the normal practice position, parallel to the ball-target line, then place a few in a line at the desired 45-degree angle, as shown here. To enhance the visual image, stick an umbrella in the ground about 10 paces away on the same angle.

Now here’s the key move: A fraction before your upper body finishes its backswing turn, your thought should be to push your hips diagonally, 45 degrees left, directly toward the umbrella. Your weight should flow immediately toward the outside of your left foot, between your heel and the ball of your foot. You may be surprised that a movement that is a straight line in concept will automatically cause your hips to rotate without your consciously trying to make them rotate–it’s a simple way to begin a powerful downswing.

On the downswing, top players move their left hip at least five inches and as much as 10 inches diagonally from their setup position. To sense this move, place a shaft in the ground five inches in front of your left hip, along the 45-degree line described earlier, as shown here. On the downswing, bump this shaft with your hip, making sure your head doesn’t move past your starting position.This is the basis of a powerful swing.

Many golfers–even good ones–shove their right hip out toward the ball on the downswing, throwing off their posture and swing plane. Instead, you should keep your hips “deep”–i.e., away from the ball. To learn to do this, stick a shaft in the ground in front of your right knee, then make sure that your right knee stays inside the shaft as your lower body drives 45 degrees and around to the finish.

Make an aggressive swing

Your lower-body movement can now be extremely aggressive, depending on the power you desire. Once your hips have pushed hard on the 45-degree line, fire through with your right side, hitting hard with both hands (above). To ensure that your legs and hips don’t “overdrive” and leave the arms behind, keep your right heel on the ground until just prior to impact.

Let the club swing around you

The 45-degree hip move will add power to all your shots, but it is especially helpful for irons. To make solid contact with irons, you should be heavy on your left foot at impact, with your hips open and continuing their motion uninterrupted through impact to the finish, as Fred Couples shows here. Don’t try to guide the clubhead “straight down the target line.” Let the club make its natural rotation around your body and you’ll find a new level of power and accuracy.

Wayne DeFrancesco won the 2001 PGA of America Club Professional Championship. He teaches at Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville, Md., and has been voted the No. 1 teacher in Maryland by his peers, according to Golf Digest’s ranking of the Best Teachers in Your State.

COPYRIGHT 2001 New York Times Company Magazine Group, Inc.

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