As you swing a golf club, your hips turn as your torso rotates. Proper hip turn is important for hitting the ball far and for improving consistency. By turning your hips, you're able to create torque and therefore garner more speed on the club, which leads to greater distance. If you rotate your hips too much or too little, you will limit your distance and have problems with accuracy.
The Hip Turn
Your hips should be turning during the backswing, downswing and follow-through components of your golf swing. While you begin the backswing with your hands and arms moving in sync as you rotate your torso, it should be quickly followed by a turning of the hips away from the target. Your buttocks rotate toward your target. During the downswing, your hips rotate around and you want them to open up to the target right at impact. They should continue to turn until they end up facing your target in the follow-through.
The Right Degree of Turn
While hip turn plays a significant role in being able to hit the ball far, a bigger hip turn doesn't necessarily lead to more distance. The average hip rotation at the top of the backswing for professional golfers is 45 degrees. Any more than that and there's a greater risk of you not fully turning your hips back to where they need to be upon impact, which can lead to a loss in power and potential inconsistency problems.
A Lack of Hip Turn
A lack of proper hip turning causes a lack of power. You’re not able to build as much club speed on the downswing and therefore the club head has a weaker impact on the ball. In addition, when you fail to properly turn your hips, you're unable to properly transfer your weight from your back to lead foot during the downswing. This can cause you to swing off plane and have consistency issues. A lack of hip turn can be caused by improper technique, but it can also be due to hamstring tightness, pain in the lower back or other knee and ankle problems.
Hip Turn Drills
Use drills to test your hip turn and to improve it for a more powerful swing. To check to see if you’re turning your hips appropriately on the backswing, position the backside of a computer chair that swivels behind you and against your buttocks as you stand in the ready position. Hold the club up at your shoulders so that it’s horizontal to the ground, with your arms crossed over your chest. Perform the backswing, leading with the turning of your shoulders. Your butt cheeks should rotate toward your target, pushing against the chair and causing it to swivel.
Brad Brewer of the Golf Channel recommends a simple drill to master the hip turn. Get into your golf stance while holding the club against the front of your hips and horizontal to the floor. Rotate into the backswing, turning your hips so that your backside rotates toward your target. Rotate as you would for the downswing, turning your hips until they face your target, while simultaneously coming up onto your back toe to finish balanced.
Certified golf fitness professional Ian Manning, who is also the owner and operator of Orthocore Physical Therapy in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, recommends regularly incorporating glute, hamstring and hip flexor stretches to improve flexibility.