Rory McIlroy Discovers Shoulders Follow Hips & Vice Versa

I wrote a few years back that Rory McIlroy might have discovered the key to increasing power through technique when he was spotted letting his leading heel come up during his back swing, but it turned out not to be a permanent thing.

Now, it seems he might be back on a right track, with his apparent discovery that the hips and shoulder are connected.

At least, that’s what I would gather from the Sean Martin article on PGATour.com regarding some swing changes he’s making following the Masters (thanks to M.F. for forwarding the link):

Days after another unsuccessful attempt to complete the career Grand Slam, Rory McIlroy watched video of the shots he struggled with at Augusta National. That helped him identify swing faults that he fixed in the fortnight between the Masters and the Wells Fargo Championship, the tournament where McIlroy has achieved unparalleled success in his PGA TOUR career.

The changes to McIlroy’s address have allowed him to “neutralize” his ball flight, i.e. curve it less. By getting more hinge in his hips, McIlroy was able to steepen his shoulder turn. That kept the club from getting too far behind him on the backswing.

“I was relying a lot on timing,” he said. “I was relying a lot on upper-body rotation, sort of out of sync a little bit. … I was coming up out of my posture and falling back on my heels.”

I think  this is a good change, of course, but I also find it incredible that the world’s best golfers are still in the dark regarding proper biomechanics when it comes to the most important facet of their trade – the full swing.

If an amateur golfer who doesn’t have much time in the game said to me, “I just found out that you get a better and deeper shoulder turn by letting the hips turn naturally,” I would say, “you’ve just figured out something that even the players and instructors haven’t yet clued into!!”

It seems that they’re still rubbing sticks together to start fires.  Yes, the hips turn the shoulders on a natural and proper golf pivot, and the shoulders follow the hips on the down swing as well, as I wrote about in the above link with the below gif to illustrate my point:


The problem with the swing changes I see on the PGA Tour is that, even when the changes are for the good, and more in tune with proper mechanics, they are usually short-term fiddling to try to fix a current problem, and not long-term changes that are understood by the swinger making them or the instructor/coach advising them.

Without a proper understanding of how the body works, it is a never-ending game of trying little changes here and there.  I see good changes being made, like when Justin Rose was letting his leading heel come up for while – but then I check back or happen to catch the swinger on TV and see that the positive change went away.

Let’s hope that Rory actually learned that the hips power the golf swing, not the lower back, and that he’ll get deeper into proper biomechanics and not just dabble in a change that actually happens to make sense!


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

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17 thoughts on “Rory McIlroy Discovers Shoulders Follow Hips & Vice Versa

  1. Walter

    You’re right. I’m a big Rory fan and I noticed the same things. First he didn’t left his heel then he did and lately he hasn’t.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I don’t get it. Most other sports have their established canons of mechanically-correct technique. Golf is still trial & error, hit & miss…

      1. Walter

        Sometimes I wonder if it’s just these so-called (expert) coaches getting into it for the (big) money. Look at Foley, it seems he’s changed his mind on the way he should teach the golf swing.

        1. D Watts Post author

          They’ll always be changing things until they learn and teach mechanically-correct and fundamentally sound technique.

          Until then, they’ll be switching and changing and fiddling (while never admitting that what they were teaching before was wrong and harmful), all the way to the bank.

          1. Walter

            That’s right all the way to the bank, lol. I’m curious as to what qualifies Foley to be a golf coach.
            See you missed your calling, you should have been a golf coach too.

            1. D Watts Post author

              .. I’m curious as to what qualifies Foley to be a golf coach.

              When you find out, let me know, Walter! And I’m content with my role doing research & analysis, despite your kind words 🙂

            2. Walter

              Not sure I want to waste my time looking for his qualifications really. Hey, did you catch the ball test review on MGS and their chat after on Utube, very interesting indeed.

      2. Jason

        This actually fascinates me – I can think of several possible reasons.

        1) Golf is generally an individual sport that is not ‘reaction’ based (like tennis), but ‘proaction’ (for a lack of a better term. I think team sports tend to generally do better with handing down techniques and because golf is ‘proactive’ and about hitting a still object, it’s more about set up rather than pure reaction time.

        2) Golf made a shift away from biomechanics when they started focusing purely on ball flight with the whole ‘golf’ is what the ball does’ mentality

        3) In terms of the golf game, it’s about scoring and one can score quite low with a faulty golf swing that is consistent and grooved (of course it may lead to inconsistency and injury over the long haul, but most modern golf is evidence of this)

        4) Golf, especially since the rise of television, has been a copycat type of activity and people make the assumption that the winner of a golf tournament should mean they have the best swing. (In a biblical sense, this is why one shouldn’t worship idols, but the principles and ideals, which are bigger than any one golfer)

        5) I think, sometimes, our reliance on science to tell us data about ball speed, swing speed, attack angle, , etc., has, on some level, hurt the golfing public. I’ve heard mathematical/scientific reasons for why ‘stack and tilt’ is the optimal way to hit a ball – I remember watching this video (https://youtu.be/b56z_l7DlzI) and being confounded and a bit saddened that golf had come to this. It’s not that the science isn’t without value, but the LENS that looks at the data is critical, otherwise it’s hard to even know what we’re looking at. That’s where MCS is so powerful – it’s an ideological system that unites the golfing science with biomechanical movement. It’s a ‘God’ in the sense that it’s bigger than any single player and that it is a fundamental way of optimally swinging and something, even its founder, aspires towards. (On some level, there’s a parallel when Nietzsche explained that man’s ability to reason and use science in the Enlightenment had ‘killed’ the ability to just believe in God, which, on some level created an environment of nihilism and not knowing ‘what is good’ anymore. From a biomechanical standpoint, I think science and ball flight really killed biomechanical/kinetic focus.)

        6) Golf actually DOES have pieces of the canon all over the place: lots of instruction books, BH – Five lessons, jack nicklaus’ book, waxgolf, etc. YouTube is incredible as a resource. But I think it’s a sign of the times that there is simply so much information out there that it’s hard to see what is truth or good and it doesn’t help that there are guys like Kostis out there disseminating more oddly-informed opinions

        1. Walter

          Besides our Host, Mr Watts, one other golf coach to watch online would be Shawn Clement. His most important saying is “there are no positions in the golf swing” and you’re not trying to hit the ball.

  2. D.L. Moriarty

    Foley is a better chiropractor than a coach. He sure knows how to crack a back.

    Here’s a question for you DJ…
    Do you think there’s benefit to playing short irons and wedges with a slightly steeper angle and then really sweeping the longer irons and up?

    1. D Watts Post author

      Do you think there’s benefit to playing short irons and wedges with a slightly steeper angle and then really sweeping the longer irons and up?

      Well, that’s the way you want to do it, D.L. – but the MCS setup (including ball position) should take care of that for you:

      5 Iron

      —–

      That’s the very idea of how varying the ball position with the clubs creates the steeper vs sweeping impacts:

      9 Iron

      —–

      1. D.L. Moriarty

        Man, I must be overthinking!
        I tend to come in very rounded even with the wedges. I guess I will revisit and see how it’s looking now after all the changes I’ve been working on!

      2. bradley walker

        All I know is after 20 odd years of playing golf, sometimes pretty well sometimes terribly, I found your website. My ball striking has been better with less practice than ever in my life . I hit the ball further than I did in my 20s, and I spend far less time having to look for it. Your work has been the simple, consistent compass I needed. Thank you so much, D.J.

        1. D Watts Post author

          I found your website. My ball striking has been better with less practice than ever in my life . I hit the ball further than I did in my 20s, and I spend far less time having to look for it. Your work has been the simple, consistent compass I needed.

          You’re very welcome, Bradley, and thank you for the comment. Your words above, are the reason I’m still doing this. And believe it or not, I think the best is yet to come – this year! 😀

  3. Mr. McJohn

    As you said before, the classic swing will eventually return. People are catching on, and it won’t be long before the modern swing is out.

    Rory making this discovery is interesting, and I want to see how it works out. It’s good news for not only his swing and body, but his career. Longevity is what makes for a hall of fame career, I don’t think that if he continues on this road he won’t be one of the greats of all time.

    Don’t want to make predictions now, but will assume he’s just added 15 more years to his Tour career if he really gets it together.

    1. Walter

      Well I just finished watching Rory’s round and I only seen him lift his left heel once on his drive, all the other times it looked like it was planted.

  4. lupz27

    “I was coming up out of my posture and falling back on my heels.”

    Man this comment from Rory hit home, this is exactly how I feel when I’m not swinging good, or more like not swinging MCS proper.

    This is literally the story of my golf life.

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