Golf Power Effector #6: The X-Factor for Power and Accuracy

golf flexibility
The 6th golf power effector is possibly the biggest factor for increasing golf distance in golfers over 50. However, it is also very important to get the golf swing started on the correct path into the ball for golf accuracy. As we know, swing path is 1/2 the factor that determines the direction the golf ball is going to fly (the other being face angle).

The 6th golf power effector is the X-Factor. If you have recently read much about the X-factor you know there is an “old” x-factor, which was first written about by Jim Mclean in 1992. And now there is the “new” x-factor.

In this article we will discuss:

  1. The Old X-Factor
  2. The New X-Factor
  3. How you can maximize your X-Factor
  4. Special Considerations for Golfers Over 50

The Old X-Factor
The old x-factor is incredibly important. It is a measurement taken at the top of the backswing and is the difference between the golfers hip rotation and their shoulder rotation.

golf exercises

In theory, the greater the difference, or separation, between the two positions the greater the power. The reason why this is no longer thought of as THE X-factor, is because nobody hits a ball at the top of the backswing.

The New X-Factor
The “new” x-factor is the same measurement looking at the difference between hip and shoulder rotation, but measured at the point of impact.

golf stretches

It takes a lot more expensive equipment to measure this X-Factor but it has been studied quite extensively and has been found to be one the most correlated measures to golf power and distance off of the tee.

Minimal improvements in the your X-Factor will add a lot of power to your golf game.

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How you Can Maximize Your X-Factor

It continues to be very important to work on the “old” X-Factor because if you do not have a big X-Factor at the top of your backswing, you will not have a big X-Factor at the impact position!

To improve your X-Factor you need to keep your right knee flexed and prevent it from rotating in order to limit your hip rotation and allow your shoulder rotation to continue to build. You can improve this by working on the ball under back foot drill that we discussed in the previous post.

golf drill to improve golf consistency

Place golf ball under outside of back foot. Take some practice swings and hit balls. Remember to allow your foot to come off the ball naturally in your follow through.

That will set you up for success. However, to maximize the “new” X-Factor is a lot trickier. The golf move that you have to make correctly is the Transition Move.

The transition move is the first move you make back down to the ball after you reach the top of your backswing. Remember, the “new” X-Factor is all about creating a big difference between your hip rotation and your shoulder rotation. As a result, your transition move should begin with the hips.

In fact, players that really take advantage of the “new” x-factor, begin rotating their hips to the target while their shoulders are still rotating back in the backswing!!

Special Considerations for Golfers Over 50

Since I am writing this article for golfers over 50, moving your hips without moving your shoulders with them is a big flexibility challenge. So until you get that flexibility, your transition move should be the left knee slide. Here, take a look:

The biggest challenge for golfers over 50 is that they tend to lack the flexibility in the hips and mid back needed to separate the shoulder and hip turn. This results in 2 difficulties.

The first problem with this is that if the golfer is unable to turn the hips to the target first, it is almost impossible to get the swing on the inside to square swing path. If the golfer starts the swing with the upper body, they will be coming over the top, outside to inside swing path. This creates a slice, pull, and steepens the swing making it more likely that the golfers will hit the ball with a big fat divot.


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The key is in the flexibility. This stretch will help with that flexibility AND give you the feel of your hips rotating through the ball separated from your shoulder turn. This is really a great exercise.

stretches for golf

There are two ways which you should perform this exercise

1. Perform this Exercise as a stationary stretch

Golf Action:

    1. With one hand, grab a stationary object, like a door jam, with the hand furthest away (backhand grip). Rotate your body away from that hand until a stretch is felt on the back of your shoulder.

Exercise Parameters:

    1. Hold stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Keys to Success:

    For an additional stretch, rotate your head maximally to the left with your hips

2. Perform this exercise as a swing training move

    The golf action is the same but you do not hold the position as in a stretch. Instead, move back and forth through the motion working on rotating your hips and feeling the golf move of initiating the downswing without your shoulders moving with the swing. Perform 20 repetitions while imagining hitting a golf ball.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist

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