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Almost every part of your body is important in your golf swing, but the hips are among the key areas on which most golfers focus. The hips help you shift your weight back and forth, help generate power and keep your club in the correct plane. Moving your hips incorrectly, however, will cost you power, accuracy or both.
Rotate, Don't Sway
Overall, the main responsibility of your hips is to rotate clockwise on the backswing -- from a right-handed golfer's perspective -- and counterclockwise on the downswing. Avoid sliding your hips either forward or backward during your swing. PGA pro Rick Smith does advocate a slight lateral hip move to begin the downswing, to help you shift your weight and add power. Beginners, however, should probably avoid even small lateral hip moves and focus on rotating their hips around their spine, because swaying your hips will cost you power and may prevent you from bringing the club through the correct downswing path. Former PGA Tour standout Tom Watson advises players to imagine they're surrounded by a barrel and can only rotate their bodies, rather than swaying to the right or left.
Take the club back with your arms and upper body; don't rotate your hips too soon. As you raise the club, begin rotating your hips clockwise, but don't let your hips sway laterally to your right. Jack Nicklaus recommends that golfers focus on turning the right hip away from the ball, since the left hip will, of course, move in unison with the right. As your weight shifts backward, make sure your weight is over the inside of your right foot to further insure that your hips aren't swaying to your right. If your left shoulder is underneath your chin at the top of your backswing, you've probably rotated your hips sufficiently.
A proper downswing begins from the bottom up, so your hips should begin pivoting counterclockwise before your arms start moving forward. Follow Nicklaus' advice and again concentrate on one hip, but this time focus on turning the left hip away from the ball. Many golfers make the mistake of beginning to rotate their hips, but not continuing to do so throughout the downswing, according to golf instructor Jim McLean. Stopping your rotation early will likely result in a push shot to the right. Continue rotating your hips throughout your swing so your hips are square to the target line on your follow through.
Take some practice swings while you're balanced on your right toe, with your right foot about 2 feet straight back for your standard address position. You'll need to rotate your hips completely to remain on balance.
Stand with your arms extended to each side, at shoulder height. Swing your right arm in the same plane it would travel if you were swinging a club, while keeping your left arm in place. Continue moving your right arm through an imaginary swing arc and try to clap your left hand with your right. First, try to perform the drill without rotating your hips. You'll find that your right hand won't reach your left. Repeat the drill, but rotate your hips. You should be able to clap your hand easily. Try the drill a third time, but hold a club in your right hand, taking the club through a normal swing arc.