How to flush it like a Tour Pro
Groove a more powerful hip action in your downswing with this drill
By Mark Gregson-Walters
With Robbie Greenfield
ore than just about any other layout on the European Tour, the Earth course here at Jumeirah Golf Estates has proven to be a stage for the best ball strikers in the game. Guys that can hit the ball long and high have a tremendous advantage on a layout that can stretch to over 7,700 yards and features greens that are so firm and undulating, they repel mis-struck approach shots to some tricky spots.
On some tour stops a hot putter can get the job done, but you need more than that on Earth, as evidenced so clearly during Henrik Stenson’s record-breaking 2013 performance in which he only missed a couple of greens the entire week.
Solid ball striking is critical to success in the DP World Tour Championship, and it’s also what most amateurs strive the hardest to improve. The drill illustrated here will give you instant feedback, and should lead to some good results, too. It’s a sensory exercise that positions your body in such a way that allows you to feel the correct hip action on your downswing for better ball flight and distance control. Most golfers are familiar with the idea that the lower body ‘leads’ on the downswing, but in an effort to clear or ‘fire’ their hips, a lot of amateurs get the sequence of movement badly wrong.
The reality is, the hips must work downward first, allowing weight to transfer from your trail heel to the toes, before rotating through impact. By turning your back foot outward at address, the position of your bones forces the muscles in your trail leg and hip to move correctly to strike the ball. Follow the steps below on the range, and watch the quality of your ball striking improve.
The beauty of this drill is in its simplicity. All you’re doing at set-up (and you can practice this with anything from wedge shots to a 6-iron) is turning your trail foot out to a 45 degree angle, ensuring that your knee joint stays in line with your toes. By moving into this position, it forces your bones to move in the correct way for good hip action during the golf swing
Stability is a vital ingredient in any good golf swing. When you analyse the best swings on tour, something they all share in common is the way they use the ground to generate force. From this position at the top, amateurs can give up energy and get out of sync by trying to immediately rotate their hips towards the target. What you should aim to do from here though, is feel your hips work back down, and your weight shift from your trail heel to the ball of your foot.
So long as you have kept your trail knee pointing over your toes during this drill, feeling your weight shift from heel to toe on the downswing will really give you the feel for how your hips move back into position ready to rotate and convert this ground force into a powerful connection with the ball. If you slide laterally with your hips from this position, it’s impossible to feel your weight moving onto your toe and you’ll know you haven’t performed the exercise correctly.
Mark Gregson-Walters is the European Tour Performance Institute Director of Instruction
Photos by Farooq Salik