Modern Golf Swing = NO Natural Leverage

targettom and David D. both sent me links to an article on Golf WRX regarding the golf swing and the back.

It’s written by Jim Alberry and asks, “If Your Golf Swing Hurting Your Back, Or Is Your Back Hurting Your Golf Swing?

He makes an excellent points regarding the lack of hip turn in many swings, but as to the title question, I’d answer the following:

If your golf swing is hurting your back, then you need to find a golf swing that doesn’t, and if your back has anything at all to do with your golf swing (other than allowing you to stand and swing), you’re in dark waters and be prepared for something in there to bite you…

But here are Jim’s points on the hips and back, with my bolding as emphasis:

A lack of rotation in our golf swing will cause us to move in a linear direction. These linear faults commonly are sways, slides, early extension, and reverse spine. All of these faults can have several causes.

One physical cause could be a lack of rotation in the hips, which would cause a lateral or linear movement. This lateral movement leads to increased side bending in the lower back, which will cause lower back pain. This is one of the the most common physical causes of a golfer’s lower back pain.

Good point.

It would be amusing, if it weren’t damaging so many backs and bodies worldwide, to hear so-called golf swing experts extol the virtues of producing one’s speed and power with a technique that is damaging so many backs and bodies.

The first and foremost rule of ANY athletic motion is that it has to be mechanically-sound.

You have untold amounts of dollars spent by the researchers of other sports on how to swing, throw, run or jump more efficiently, meaning you’re using mechanically-correct motion, because running with a proper sprinting technique will surely garner you better results and a longer running career than if you did it improperly.

And yet, here we are in the “Modern Golf Swing” age where techniques that actually damage the body if performed as intended, are taught, advanced and praised (as you can see with any golf telecast that features a swing “analyst”).


But if you ask any of golf’s countless “fitness gurus” how one lifts a heavy object – with one’s back or hips and legs, what do you think they’d tell you?

How about if you were going to do Olympic lifting or simple squats – the back or the legs?

How long do you think you would get away with lifting even a 20lb kettle bell if you simply did it with your back rather than with the hips and legs, as I’m doing below:

You could go on and on, and except for the Modern Golf Swing, you won’t find anyone recommending you do anything at all with the back, especially the lower back.

From the upcoming “E = MCS” video:

There is some degree of shoulder turn you can perform without moving your hips, I’ve heard it as high as 20 degrees of turn, but that will depend on the individual, and here is as far as I can turn my shoulders with no hip movement, using the thoracic section of my spine (the middle part) and not the lower or lumbar section:

I have a good degree of flexibility, even with my birth defect (scoliosis or curvature of the spine, and mine includes a twist of the spine to the left), and that’s still as far as I can turn my shoulders.

Therefore, I use my hips and legs to get that shoulder turn, as one should.

So, considering that the lower spine is designed for stability and not mobility, you can see why so many golfers are injuring their lower backs trying to get a shoulder turn with the back instead of the hips and legs:

This isn’t even new, however, as Jack Nicklaus addressed that very issue in his 1974 book “Golf My Way,” as I’ve written about before:

I understand that there is a theory in golf today that the hips shouldn’t turn on the backswing.  The idea seems to be that the less you turn your hips, while still turning your shoulders, the more leverage you’ll generate.

It’s hogwash, and here’s why.

Stand erect with your arms at your sides and keep them there. Now hold your hips still and turn your shoulders.

Impossible, right? Even the slightest shoulder turn forces some hip turn. And the more the shoulders turn, the more the hips are forced to turn, right?

… unless he’s incredibly supple or some kind of contortionist.

Thus you should never try to restrict your hip turn if you want to hit the ball a long way.

“Hogwash,” Nicklaus called it.

It was, then… and it is, now.

For power and natural leverage, you use the hips and legs to power the swing as the Classic Golf Swing era swingers did.

If you try to use your back to do that, you may have some success, but you’re on the road to back problems, sooner or later.

As I say in the “E = MCS” video during my intro, your first priority in the golf swing is to prevent injuries that are preventable.

One of my quotes from the video:

“You’ve only got one spine,” I say, “And if you wreck that… game over…”


8 thoughts on “Modern Golf Swing = NO Natural Leverage

  1. buddhabob

    all power in all sports comes first and primarily from the hips. Golf,boxing and baseball come immediately to mind. Watch GGG hit somebody with a looping right hand, watch Aaron Judge hit a 500 ft homer, watch Jack Nicklaus. Its pretty simple, pretty open and shut. Just imagine Ledbetter sliding up to Judge and whispering to him “remember, – hips quiet, crank those shoulders and let it fly…”

    1. D Watts Post author

      Leadbetter has been awarded 2017 National PGA Teacher of the Year, I might mention… and I’ve never heard of GGG before your reference, so I looked him up.

      That is one man in front of whom I would not want to stand with my fists up!

  2. peterallenby2013

    One need look no further than Michelle Wei and Lydia Ko (as you’ve posted in the past DJ) to see that David Leadbetter’s instruction in one case led to a contorted golf swing injuring MIchelle and Lydia firing him… enough said.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I’m not even trying to figure out how a swing guru who tried to shoe-horn his World No. 1 protege into a swing model for hackers (the “A” in “A-Swing” stands for “Alternative,” as in, for people who can’t figure out a proper swing) wins instructor of the year.

      Oh well… I’m sure smarter people than me know what they’re doing.

  3. lupz27

    I’m not really smart enough for the technical kinetics of the swing, all I know is if I strike the ball using A proper MCS swing, AND have my back foot firmly planted at impact (I guess I’m in the process of transferring the weight through impact from back to front giving me optimal power/leverage) I hit the ball a good 30 yards further with my clubs when performed properly while going after it (PW 160 yards compared to 130ish when I come off the back foot earlier) again I don’t really understand the science behind it, I just recognize the results.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Sounds like you’re right-dominant, lupz:

      … all I know is if I strike the ball using A proper MCS swing, AND have my back foot firmly planted at impact…

      There’s nothing wrong with that – the swing finishes on the leading foot and side, but at impact, you’re not there yet, but transitioning, as you stated.

      On my best SwingRite swings, my trailing foot is planted:

      But I’m a lefty and I tend to “pull” my swing more than I do with the SwingRite drill, so my foot comes up a little earlier:

      I imagine if and when I get to the point where my long drive swing looks like my SwingRite swing, I’ll get to 400 yards, and I’ll call myself the “Son of Dunaway…” 😉

  4. Chief Cowpie

    “If your golf swing is hurting your back…” get a new back. All the Modern Golf Swing needs is modern medical technology to remedy its breakdowns.

    And too, “if your back is hurting your swing” get a custom designed back to suit the contour of your swing.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Unfortunately, many will wish they could get a back replacement by the time they’re finished, Chief.

      Exhibit A: Eldrick “Tiger” Woods

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