January 19, 2022- by Steven E. Greer, MD
When I started this Golf Project six years ago, my problem was an awkward backswing where I felt constricted, and then early hip extension or flipping of the club. Both of those were symptoms of the same problem.
Like almost everybody, I was afraid to let the spine sway back-and-forth, (or another way of looking at that is to have the pelvis pivot back-and-forth). That is because that proper movement feels as if we are going to lose our balance, and our brains are very powerful at preventing us from losing balance.
This so-called “early hip extension” everybody talks about, which almost nobody knows how to fix, is just a symptom. It is not the underlying disease. People cannot fix it because they are missing the real problem.
Early hip extension is caused when the upper body fails to get past the mid-line at impact (see front views in video). Again, this is caused by the person being frozen and afraid to move athletically back-and-forth. When they are stuck, the only way that the clubhead can meet the ground is if one releases the arms and flips the club. Well, the only way one can do that is if one push the hips forward, or early hip extends.
Actually, early hip extension is a pretty impressive subconscious reflex we have that makes sure that we hit the ball. This is the all the vestibular system I speak of so much. It is that amazing autopilot we have.
Drills to fix early hip extension that focus on pushing the hips backwards against an imaginary wall and so forth are missing the point. They are trying to treat a symptom. The front view is how you fix early hip extension. You have to see if the person is getting past the mid-line at impact.
Curing early hip extension involves a lateral movement of the center of the pelvis towards the target, which pushes the left hip joint backwards. Golf is full of counterintuitive paradoxes like this. You have to be looking at the front of the golfer to fix early hip extension.
(Likewise, if you see somebody taking the club back on the inside of the plane, that is actually an impressive athletic movement because their brains are telling them that they will come over the top if they don’t do that. The underlying problem is the same thing, where they are frozen in their spine.)
This is why I am so adamantly opposed to people teaching that it is wrong to sway. You absolutely want to feel as if you sway. You just have to sway in the proper way though (i.e., spine titled away from target at the top of the swing). You sway with your torso in the backswing, and then sit down and pull away from the ball with the pelvis to get the downswing.