Golf is the most beautifully misunderstood game in the world. Everyone has an opinion on the swing and, as coaches, we hear people say many things they’ve heard over time: keep your head down, look at the ball, keep your lead arm straight at the top of the swing and most intriguing – keep your trail knee flexed all the way the through the backswing. It’s my belief that people were advised to maintain a flexed trail knee in the backswing to create more “power” and “speed” in the downswing. However, that’s not the case for most golfers.
A statement I hear a lot during initial Swing Evaluations is, “I don’t have the flexibility to hit the ball farther.” I find this “lack of flexibility” is due to less hip rotation because the trail knee (the knee farthest away from the target) is staying flexed and not allowing the hips to turn in the backswing. When this happens, there is a tendency for the arms to rise, stalling the hip rotation and momentum of the backswing leading to compensations in the downswing (see image 1).
Golfers who hit the ball the highest and farthest turn their hips and lose flexion in the trail knee (or straighten the trail knee) the most in the backswing. Think of Bubba Watson, Rory McIIroy, or JB Holmes, some of the longest hitters on Tour.
Let’s work on hitting the ball higher and farther.
Assuming you’re a right-handed golfer, push the lead knee (left knee) over the top of lead foot (left foot) as illustrated in image 2. At the same time, push the trail foot (right foot) into the ground and simultaneously straighten – not lock – the trail knee (right knee) as illustrated in image 3. This will allow your hips and pelvis to turn the amount that is needed to create approximately 90º of shoulder turn and sufficient depth with the arms. Practice this starting with hitting balls with a half swing and half speed and slowly build up as you feel more comfortable with the technique.
If you continue to have challenges hitting the ball higher and farther, talk to your local GolfTEC Coach today.
Unless some anomaly exists,I don’t think extension of the trail knee(&hip) changes the degree of actual flexibility of the hip external rotators,that would then lead to an increase in hip internal rotation.So if extending trail knee increases the ability for the pelvis to rotate further,it wasn’t being held up by inflexibility at the hip.