There are some common themes that arise in Bobby Jones’ teachings of the golf swing: The importance of the golfer remaining tension-free during the swing. The role of the trail arm (which is the right arm for most golfers) and why it should stay close to your side on the downswing. The importance of shifting your weight onto your lead side on the downswing.

All of these tenants, which Bobby Jones routinely identified in his iconic Warner Brothers (now Warner Brothers Discovery, the parent company of Golf Digest) instruction series, are dependent on the hips. If you’re hips aren’t moving correctly as you swing, you won’t be able to swing the golf club in a way that allows you to hit good shots, consistently. That’s the problem Jones identifies in Bill’s golf swing at the start of the episode, which he devotes entirely to the subject of hip movement in the golf swing.

“Bill, like most average golfers your problem is that you don’t use your body properly. Don’t get enough power out of the muscles in your back. You try to turn your hips and body, but it is plain that you don’t understand how to convert the body turn and the club head speed. An unsound swing may work well enough on occasion, but soundness of method is the only key to reliable performance.”

Jones goes on to outline the key movement the hips should make during the swing…

Key #1: NEVER let hips slide on the backswing

Jones was a master ahead of his time, brilliant in his ability to identify specific moves that technology would validate years later. One of those was believing the hips should turn, but never slide onto the trail leg. Once 3D pressure plates came along some eight years later, we learned why: Because if golfers slide their hips too far away on the backswing, then they won’t be able to get back enough in time to make ball-first contact.

Jones understood this intuitively:

“There’s no perceptible lateral movement of the hips during the backswing. I’m already well behind the ball where I can move into the shot. As I swing through the turn of the body takes place approximately around the spine as an axis and the head does not move appreciably either sideways or in an up and down direction. Many players make the mistake of ducking or lowering the left shoulder during the back swing. This shoulder does move around under the chin, but it does so naturally as the body turns on an inclined axis.”

The key feeling, Jones said, was feeling like golfers turn from the toe of their left foot, into the heel of their right food. Again, that’s something that that has been validated by 3D data.

“In completing the turn of the hips, the weight moves forward to the inside of the toe of the left foot and backward to the outside of the heel of the right foot. The turn should be continued until a real stretch is felt in the right leg.”

Key #2: Use left arm to maximize power

Jones was a firm believer in a free, unrestricted turn of the body both back and through. The body powers the arms, he says, and important component of that is using the left arm to set the radius of your golf swing. It should be kept straight throughout, Jones says, which ensures the arc will move as widely as possible. That, in turn, will allow the power your body rotation generates to be transferred into the golf ball.

“If the left arm is not taught, its extension is indefinite, and the swing may go anywhere. But if it is fully extended, the arc of the swing will be as wide and therefore as long as possible. Allowing the greatest time to gain speed before impact, the left arm must be straight at impact. It is possible to straighten it during the downswing, but the more sudden and therefore more consistent method is to keep it reasonably straight from the start. The best way to assure a full extension of the left arm is to use it in pushing the club back, not independently of the body time, but assisted by the movement of the entire left side.”

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