The Twist
By Erika Larkin on 3/12/14
In both the backswing and the downswing, it is important to be able to move the hips and shoulders independently from each other for proper swing sequence and power. In essence, we want to gently 'twist' to properly windup and unwind at the ball.

To practice and test your ability to accomplish this separation ad proper twisting motion, do the following:
  1. Get into your golf posture as if you were going to hit a 7-iron.

  2. Cross your arms over your chest so that your hands are on your shoulders.

  3. Try rotating (twisting) your hips back and forth (not side to side) while keeping your shoulders steady? If you cannot, have someone hold your shoulders and try again.

  4. Try rotating your shoulders back and forth while keeping your hips steady and pointed straight ahead. If you cannot do this, sit on the edge of a chair and try again.

Once you have mastered these tests (practice, practice, practice!), ask yourself if you actually accomplish the 'twist' in your swing. During the backswing, you should let your hips rotate first followed by shoulders / arms. In the downswing, once again let your hips lead just ahead of your shoulders / arms.

A great way to think about the motion without getting too mechanical is this: Imagine how a baseball pitcher unwinds to throw the ball — he plants his front foot, throws his hips forward, then his chest, and then the arm fires. That separation creates a chain reaction which creates power. Many students I see do not have this proper sequence, particularly in the downswing. Once they feel it and start to ingrain it, it makes a huge difference in the feel and results of their ball striking.

Good luck and have fun practicing your twist!


Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she's oobgolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!


[ comments ]
DougE says:
"During the backswing, you should let your hips rotate first followed by shoulders / arms. In the downswing, once again let your hips lead just ahead of your shoulders / arms."

I understand and agree with your downswing description, but am a little confused with your description of the initiation of the takeaway.

At set up, I point the butt end of my club towards the front side of my belt buckle (at belt buckle with driver). On takeaway, I start back slowly with my hips rotating, keeping the butt end as if it is still connected straight to my belt buckle, but my shoulders move simultaneously. Once my hips turn as far as they can, my shoulders continue turning back until I have the club fully loaded with wrists cocked. Upon the start of my downswing, my swing thought is to start it with hip rotation followed instantaneously with shoulder turn down, followed by arms, etc.

Are you suggesting that it might be better to literally start to move hips before actually starting club head away from ball?
3/13/14
 
jpjeffery says:
Ditto, re the confusion. I was taught that the first move was with the whole-unit of the hands, arms and shoulders.
3/13/14
 
Erika Larkin says:
I believe you can start the takeaway either way, some people like the idea of a one piece move where the hands lead, others start with a very subtle move of the hips first which creates lag right from the start of the hands trailing the hips through the swing. I don't think one is right/wrong it is what feels right for the golfer to achieve rhythm and sequence that will help their downswing. Try this: hold a club and start swinging it back and forth low to the ground without stopping as you make your swing bigger and keep the motion going you will notice that the hips and footwork/weight shift will lead the hands naturally in both directions. If you try to recreate this feeling from a standstill setup you should find there is less manipulation and grip pressure in the hands and its very easy to get the club swinging back on plane. Again, neither is right/wrong, its what gets the job done better.
3/13/14
 
DougE says:
"Try this: hold a club and start swinging it back and forth low to the ground without stopping as you make your swing bigger and keep the motion going you will notice that the hips and footwork/weight shift will lead the hands naturally in both directions."

Funny you should mention that. I often do that move just before I set up to the ball, trying to dial in the swing rhythm, tempo, lag and grip pressure I want to feel in my actual swing. It's an excellent pre-shot timing exercise.
3/13/14
 
jpjeffery says:
Sounds good. Tx both.
3/14/14
 
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