The Myth of “Clearing the Hips”


Originally posted on the Smash Golf Blog July 22, 2009

There is a misconception about the whole “Clearing the Hips” thing in golf. Apparently, you only have to think about it to do it. Wrong.

You can’t clear the hips on the down swing if you’re not properly set up to do it. At least, you can’t do it without hurting yourself.

Tiger Woods is the prime example of a flawed address position leading to knee injury getting the hips cleared.

I’m not criticizing one of the best golfers on the planet to just say that his swing is terrible. But before his 2008 surgery, it was the worst swing in the world for staying healthy below the belt buckle. And that’s because, when Tiger Woods was half-way down in his swing, he would end up jammed behind the ball and had to snap the left leg straight to swing the body and clear the hips through impact.

Tiger Woods’ Driver Swing

Watch this swing of Tiger a couple of years back, and I’ll just say that I disagree with Peter Kostis’ praise of Tiger’s action, which wrecked his knee. Watch Tiger’s left leg snap and the front foot spin through impact, which is not supposed to happen.

If Tiger Woods had been set up properly in his address (in this swing, his ball placement is too far off his left heel, giving him no room to shift his weight fully to his left side on the down swing), he would never have had to to that old “snapping the left leg” thing to generate power.

I can drive the ball well over 300 yards any day of the week, without warming up or hitting balls all day at the range, and I’ve never hurt my knee doing so, because my address fundamentals allow me to swing down and through the ball without stressing my lower body.

Clearing the Hips – Diagonal View

I’ve taken a diagonal view of my Driver motion on the range from 2008. It is far from a mechanically-correct swing as this was only three years into my research, and yet it still shows perfectly at Impact and on the follow-through that you can drive a ball well over 300 yards without putting any strain whatsoever on the leading leg and foot.

You’ll see that at impact, my hips are practically facing the target, and yet on the follow-through, you won’t see any snapping of the left leg or pivoting of the foot.

Those who have followed the Smash Golf blog will be familiar with my Fundamentals Trifecta (*now known as ‘The Formula’) concept: you cannot build a mechanically-correct swing without three important fundamentals correctly established –Hand Grip, Ball Placement and Address Position or Stance. In the matter of “clearing the hips,” you can only do this effectively and efficiently swinging from a proper address