The Myth of “Clearing the Hips”

Impact-DiagonalOriginally posted on Smash Golf Blog July 22, 2009 – edited for updating purposes.

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 or making major compensatory moves.

Tiger Woods shows this in his left “knee-snap” and disconnecting foot through impact, due to both a flaw in position and weight transfer issues.

I’m not criticizing one of the best golfers on the planet to just say that his swing is terrible – however if you see two things I see, you’d see that Tiger could have an even better swing.

Tiger Woods’ Driver Swing

First, you’ll see the “squarish” left or leading foot at address – without the proper amount of flare to the foot, this prevents a full hip turn to the finish without straining the leading knee and hip joints, so something will have to give.

Second, you’ll see that his right or trailing foot remains firmly anchored to the ground, which causes the weight shift issue through impact.

What happens is that, to both avoid injury and to compensate for never getting off the trailing foot, he has to “knee-snap” for leverage (where a proper shift into the leading foot would provide all the leverage one needs) and that leading foot comes off the ground to accommodate but for the squared position at address and because he’s not getting off his right foot.

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 perfect swing as this was only three years into my research, and yet it still shows clearly 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.

A properly-flared leading foot will allow you to come through impact and get into the leading foot and leg through to the finish without having that leading leg snap and the foot jump and turn, so as you can see, the setup affects the mechanics!

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.