Modern Golf Syndrome – The Hip Action Has Been Lost

It seems to me that, due to the modern golf insistence on using a twisting torso-against-hips type of back swing pivot with a turning action through the impact zone has done more than cause physical issues for the many golfer swinging this way – it has led to the loss of the concept of hip action altogether.

I have said before that even modern golfers swing around the C7 point of the neck – it’s just that they are doing it in a mechanically-unsound manner (trying to rotate the upper body only with restricted hip action) and also in an un-optimal manner.

Mechanically-unsound is what always concerns me, after a youth spent in sporting pursuits – if you’ve participated in a variety of sports, you will know that injury is always a concern, and that’s why sports (except, of course, golf in the modern style) focus on mechanically-sound technique.

Golf, incredibly, has gone the other way, fashioning a dangerous and mechanically-unsound way of swinging, and instead of learning from the multiple injuries to swingers, it seems to be doubling down and saying, “Well, that’s the price of playing golf…”

If that isn’t bad enough – this way of swinging is incredibly difficult to perform even passably – and this is exactly why modern golf will fight to the death to protect this method of swinging – because you will never stop requiring lessons to master a swing action that can’t really be mastered by the majority of swingers – and woe to those that do, because the longer and the harder you swing in this style, the more you’re risking injury to the lower back and other body parts.

The end result of this is that the art of swinging using the hips and legs has been lost.

If you are part of the group of people for whom this is an issue, don’t blame yourself – from beginner to instructor, if all you’ve ever seen and been taught and shown regarding the golf swing has been the modern style of restricted-hip action, then you can’t really have been expected to have know any better.

And now, having spent most if not all of your life trying to swing this way, you can’t simply start using the hips and legs to swing, because it runs counter to everything you’ve been taught.

So, what I see a lot when looking at swingers trying to switch back to a classic hip & leg action is either a complete lack of hip turn (even though the swinger thinks their hips are turning), or a complete turning of the entire body away from the ball, followed by a reversal of this turn instead of the “sequential” down swing that is required to leverage and power the down action.

Basically (and I’ll try to get some video in the next day or so to illustrate this), the swing has been turned around?

Instead of a full body back swing pivot and then a sequential down swing (the “drop & pop” of the MCS mechanics), what I see is much of is

  1. A segmented back swing (separating the torso and hips) followed by
  2. The one-piece down swing (which is deadly due to the lower back compression required to get through impact swinging this way, or simply problematic because of the jumping/snapping of the leading leg and/or foot for the same reason).

This is completely backwards from the proper and mechanically-sound pivot and down swing action, and it all stems from the lost art of using the hips and legs to power the swing from start to finish.

I’m working right now on some drills and concepts to help people release the locked hips, to improve hip mobility, and to illustrate the proper way to leverage the down swing.

The comments I hear most from people who watch me swing in person are that my back swing seems so “slow” and relaxed (because it is, as no one has ever struck the ball with the back swing in a proper stroke) and that the down swing seems so effortless (which would be because I’m using proper leverage with the weight transfer, which is necessary to produce that effortless power as we don’t have gears and motors).

And people simply don’t get for the most part how important drills are for building and then maintaining a golf swing.

You don’t see hockey teams playing full-on scrimmages all practice long to prepare for games, nor basketball teams, nor to track athletes spend their time sprinting 100 meters all session long to train for the 100 m.

They drill.

And drill.

And drill some more.

So, standing on a range all day hitting balls is not the way to build a swing, unless you have ten to twenty years to so do, and are prepared to spend hours per day doing it.

The proper way to build a swing, I discovered (and I began that exact way, hitting 6-8 jumbo buckets a day, sometimes, every session) is to DRILL.

Soccer player don’t play entire games to practice – they drill, and they drill, and they drill.

How about martial arts? Any martial arts golfers in this group at Wax? How much do you actually spar, and how much do you drill and practice forms?

So, how’s your back swing? Have you been doing any drills? How about the down swing? Are you drilling the concepts?

This is not to scold, but to implore, because I myself know the allure of intending to practice drills and concepts, only to reach the range, pull out that first club, and proceed to beat ball after ball, to leave the range well-exercised but really no better than when I got there.

I learned the hard way, over a long period, that the more I swung, the less progress I made – but the more I practiced the drills and concepts I improvised, the quicker I improved, and the more lasting the changes were.

I hadn’t hit any balls for a fortnight when I hit the range with Welshman yesterday, and the rust that showed was in my line – I was pushing the ball right with the first iron, but my speed, distance and contact were as good as if I’d been swinging every day.

I even took Welshie’s persimmon clubs, which he practically stole from someone (I don’t even want to say how much he paid for pristine Ben Hogan persimmon driver, 3 and 4 wood complete with purple Crown Royal headcovers), and I pounded them, marveling in how far I was able to hit the range balls with them.

I hit some drivers to the end of the range which, although there was a following breeze, wasn’t much shorter than what I’d get with a modern driver.

This is because the sweet spot is the sweet spot, and if you’re hitting the ball purely, you’re going to drive the ball about the same distance with the same club speed.  It’s in the off-center hits that modern equipment gives the advantage, allowing you to drive the ball 300 yards even off the heel or toe.

The only distance lost would have been due to the fact that they swing a little heavier than the feathery modern drivers, so there would have been perhaps a little slower impact velocity, but I was nutting those persimmons and loving them.

So, because I swing with my hips & legs, I don’t have to maintain my swing form, just as when you learn to throw properly, you can take a month off throwing and, other than perhaps a few warm-up throws to get the feel back, you’re not going to have to re-learn the throw action.

Now, how many people can take a fortnight off hitting balls or playing and then, after a half-dozen swings, be right back where they were before the break?

That is the value of drilling, my friends – with the drills, you ingrain and preserve the action required for a proper swing action, and the more you drill, the better things will get.

I came up with a great (I think) new concept for the down swing transition from the top as well, using nothing more than a short iron and a coin, that will go great with the Kettle Bell concept from the “E = MCS” video:

In addition, an exercise you can perform with a bungee cord or a pulley weight machine at the gym, that will get your hips free and you leveraging your down swing like you never have before.

So, if I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front, it’s because I’m back at work on the follow-up to the “E = MCS” swing video – not on how to swing, because that video is the simplest I’m ever going to be able to describe how to build the stance and explain the mechanical action – rather, on explaining in more depth the nature of the pivot providing the leverage required to turn your swing into an effortless and powerful action.

Welshman, by the way, had business that kept him from swinging a club for two months, since June, basically, and when we worked on his hip action and the down swing transition (with the new concept), he was transformed.

He went from hitting deep-divot half-fat balls with a mid-iron to shallow-divot, sweeping iron shots and simply jumped off the club face.

And all we did, to get that change, was I drilled him on the back swing pivot hip action and the transition leverage action – two things that I told him to drill at home when he had the time, and when the proper hip action clicked in, that’s how quickly he was able to make the change.

That, instead of hitting ball after ball, because practice doesn’t make perfect, it simply ingrains what you happen to be doing, and if that is incorrect… you’re ingraining improper technique and making it that much more difficult.

So, I know that the proper hip action is stumping everyone, and that is affects everything from the back swing to the finish, but I’m testing some concepts for the upcoming and extended “Cliff’s Notes” type of follow-up to “E = MCS.”

Everything about the swing itself is in “E = MCS,” and I’ve been gratified by the reception it has received.

Now, based on the feedback regarding where people are really struggling with their mechanics, and from what I’m observing in the swing analyses I’m doing on submitted video clips – I’m on it.

Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?

Lacking Power, Speed, Distance and or Consistency? 

Need A Swing That Is More Easily Maintained?

If You Answered “Yes” To Any Of The Above Questions, The Answer Is In The Formula For The Golf Swing:

“E = MCS” The Swing Video

12 thoughts on “Modern Golf Syndrome – The Hip Action Has Been Lost

  1. targettom

    You’re a mind reader. It’s funny how sometimes it takes a while for a concept to kick in, like that first gif above (which IIRC is from the previous video). I was doing that at the range yesterday and in practice the results were fantastic. I had only a handful of offline shots. The ball striking was superb, just crushing it with every club.

    Never hit a 3 metal off the mat as well as that before. For the most part I was hitting driver onto a patch of grass the size of a blanket. The variations seem to be just my inability to get the club face aimed right every time. Some people hate practice, my wife and I enjoy it.

    It is very satisfying when you’re killing it. And next day, no pain whatsoever. Friends DJ has shown us The Secret to consistent golf, it’s right in front of us. Thanks DJ

    1. D Watts Post author

      Very welcome Tom and thanks for the kind words – MCS is all you need, and if there is a secret to the golf swing, it’s to keep it mechanically-correct and as simple as possible! 😀

    1. D Watts Post author

      Wow…that’s getting close to the average amateur club speed for men, Tom. Tell her to keep up the good work!

  2. peterallenby2013

    Watched a bit of the Solheim Cup replay of Day 3 last evening and was struck by two golf swings: MIchelle Wie and Lexi Thompson. First tee for Michelle Wie and she continues to employed the frozen lower body upper torso torquing swing – It hurts to looks at it! Her drive lands in the rough right. – She seems to have a swing with an abbreviated back swing – as if her body tells her “NO” when trying to swing back with no lower body movement and her wider than shoulders stance.

    Lexi Thompson was wild as can be – Commentators chalked it up to jitters and nerves and I am sure they have a point – to a degree. But slow motion of her swing shows her jumping at contact with every shot her left foot leaving the ground to allow her hips to clear – And until she got her timing down, it was a train wreck for the first four holes.

    I am not sure why these leading golfers aren’t objectively concerned – Michelle Wie is grinding her body into dust and Lexi Thompson’s swing relies upon balletic-like moves of her connection to the earth in order to work. Doesn’t anyone around these golfers ever question or observe that perhaps their swing motion need revising??! If I can see it, others certainly must as well….And even someone who never played golf could look at the motion of Snead or Hogan or Watts and compare to modern golf swings and likely tell you that the classic swings simply “look” better,i.e., more natural and less contorted…

    1. D Watts Post author

      I’ve always wonder at that myself, Peter – how do they not think, “There has to be a better way..”??


      As I said, watching modern golf pros destroy themselves doing the same thing over and over again reminds me of the phrase I heard regarding two inept carpenters – “They keep cutting that piece of wood and it’s still too short…”

  3. Uncle JJ

    Thanks, DJ, can’t wait to see the new drills and new video. While your recent video makes perfect sense, I still find it difficult to know if I’m doing things right. Every bit of guidance helps!

    I had a friend look at my swing, and he said I wasn’t completing my backswing. Makes me wonder if your above post alludes to this issue!

    1. D Watts Post author

      I wasn’t completing my backswing. Makes me wonder if your above post alludes to this issue!

      Uncle JJ, that could very well be the case – I’m on it!

  4. Jess LEUNG

    I find this article to be very useful. As much as I have get used to the classic swing, the poison that left by the modern swing in the past still haunt me sometimes. For example, when I get tense, I would likely to have a very wide stance that stop me from using my lower bodily properly and I end up powering the swing using my upper body and things go south…

    1. D Watts Post author

      That’s right, Jess – even when you break the habit, if it’s that deeply ingrained, you can find it coming back. The key is to recognize what’s going on and to get back to the proper action.

      And I can’t stress enough, that until your swing feels absolutely unconscious, to do the drills. Even if you’re swinging properly, doing the drills a few times a week will keep everything going smoothly.

      Heck, I still practice-swing and do my pivot drills!

  5. Uncle JJ

    Louis Oosthuizen was on Feherty this week. He said most players today will not play into their 40’s. Of course, he’s right, but his reasoning was wrong (albeit interesting). He said that the modern drivers are so forgiving, the players are able to swing as hard as they want. The persimmon woods and early metal woods were smaller, with smaller sweet spots, so the players had to swing easier.

    So, right conclusion, but wrong cause. Makes sense, as Louis’ back is so jacked up, he brings his own mattress on the road with him.

    Still, more and more people are recognizing that modern golfers will suffer from short careers. Once they figure out the reason, things might get back on track….

    1. D Watts Post author

      Still, more and more people are recognizing that modern golfers will suffer from short careers. Once they figure out the reason, things might get back on track…

      I’m still befuddled by the fact that it isn’t already conventional wisdom, Uncle JJ. I mean, I figured it out pretty quickly once I began my swing research – how much evidence is required before they clue in?


Comments are closed.