Senior Golf Swing Case Study: Preventing Early Hip Extension

Today we are doing a golf swing case study on a video that was recently sent to us. The issue our golfer is having is one that we see in well over half of the senior golfers that we initially work with.

“Ryan,
…I myself am 57, strong and althletic but a little limited in flexibility that I try to address at times. I normally, setup with left foot 90* to target line and back open naturally opens up to at least 30* in a closed stance. Good for limited shoulder turn I have (my left arm bends in BS) but, hard to get through the ball.”

Without any pretenses, I want you to take a look at the two swing videos and see if you can identify the problem our golfer is having.

The first video is taken “face on.” Feel free to freeze the swing at any time to take a closer look.

Here is the second video. This video is taken “down the line,” I I think that you will find it more revealing.

Senior Golf Swing Analysis

First off, our golfers has a pretty good swing. It is obvious from the videos that he has put time into his mechanics and practice and is doing a lot of things very well.

From my video review, I see 3-4 issues that could be improved upon. However, one issue stands out to me much greater than all of the rest. Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you an hint: the issue can be seen in the second video at the moment of impact…

The answer is hip clearance. I first heard the term “The 2 Cheek” position from Roger Frederickson (and I am not referring to the 2 cheeks on your face).

The 2 Cheek position is achieved when you can see both of the golfers bottom checks at the moment the golfer strikes the ball. Lets compare:

The 2 Cheek Position By Tom Watson (1977 and 2009)
Senior Golfers and Hip rotation

Our Golfer Impact Position
golf distance for older golfers

You can see from this picture that the hips do have not cleared (rotated) to the target. You can only see 1 cheek. In order for our golfer to compensate for this, you can see that he straightens up and is standing much taller at impact. I call this mistake the “silent swing killer for golfers over 50” and you can read more about this by following this link: Early Hip Extension in the Golf Swing.

Solving the Golf Swing Fault

OK, lets get down to business and find some solutions that you can use to improve your hip clearance.

The Easiest Solution
If you are struggling with this swing fault as well, hopefully it is caused by tightness in your lead hip. The reason I write “hopefully” is that you can fix it by simply rotating your lead foot out 25 degrees. This will open up the hips so that you are able to rotate your hips cleanly without the tightness in your hips pushing you out of rotation and towards the golf ball.

More Golf Swing Fixes

1. The Golf Transition Move
The golf transition move is the first thing that you move to begin your downswing. Once you reach the top of your backswing, the first thing that should move is your left knee towards the target. You want to drive that knee forward and that motion will start to pull the hips into rotation before the upper body moves.

senior golf impact position for distance

You can see how much further Luke Donald has shifted his knee towards the target. Also notice the difference in hip rotation.

Key Point: Your left knee should slide to the target 1st. It should happen before your shoulders open and your arms start down.

2. Correcting Early Hip Extension
If you are an early hip extender, hopefully the fix is as simple as working on this drill.

Drill with Bottom Against a Chair or Wall
senior golf exercise

You can do this drill on the driving range or in your home. Make sure that your bottom is against the chair or against a flat wall.

Cross your arms and make a normal “back and through” motion as you would in a golf swing. The key to the drill is keeping in contact with the chair as your rotate through your golfswing.  If you extend your hips early, your tendency is to lose contact with the chair and straighten up your posture.

If you want to take real swings with a golf club, use the chair so you don’t swing your golf club into your walls.

90 % of the time, these two drills will change your game, if not, we need to hit the gym.

Home Exercise to Train the Body to Clear the Hips

In golfers over 50, the issue is commonly a restriction in the lead hips ability to rotate fully. Make sure you try the stretches on this linked page to determine if you need to work on your flexibility: Stretching for Golfers to Improve Hip Position.

Drills to Help Clear Your Hips


If you find that these exercises are two fast and you need to slow it down a bit to learn the exercise, you can try the transitional move training video:

Thanks for sending us the video and I am interested in hearing how you are able to change your game!!

Sincerely,

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

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