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May 02

Gorney says It’s In the Hips

Teacher Brett Gorney Makes Hip Problem for Distance Clear

I wasn’t really familiar with golf pro Brett Gorney until recently, and that’s my fault, not his. After a few spring ventures to the driving range, I came away with the same questions as I have in the past concerning my wasted potential for distance.  Was shortening my backswing cutting yards out of the result, even though I got more accuracy out of the deal? I thought so at the time, and I was willing to settle for straight and short over long and “who knows.”

With a fine golfer in the family, I have been reminded of the hips most of my life. In those days, however, I didn’t listen as well as I should. Some important items of information fell out of my ears or overshot the mark entirely. Now, I work at the range with conflicting data and missing pieces of knowledge. Short backswing or not, I have concentrated on hip rotation during the backswing to get myself into the most “corkscrewish” position I can. Then, I believe, I’m in a great place to rapidly unfurl to reach high speed at impact. The backswing must be the part of the lessons I wasn’t hearing correctly. Mr Gorney informs me that my hyper-rotation of the hips on the backswing is wrong, and that it is costing me precious yards.
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In his online lessons on distance, Gorney speaks of the little guy who sends drives to the back of the range. We’ve all seen one at some time or another. He makes us crazy. The little guy doesn’t over-rotate on the backswing. Gorney suggests that the shoulder rotation should be greater than the hip rotation. That’s where part of the power comes from, that ratio – the X factor.

There are pros who possess slight physiques, although I never see a weak one. Gorney tells that while I am not opening my hips to the target on the downswing, no more than 10 to 20 percent, the pro is opening his or hers to the target, at about 40 percent. So, that’s why petite LPGA players of barely 110 pounds hit the ball so much farther than I do – at least one of the reasons. Gorney continues to say that while we withhold our hips from firing through impact, other compensations take place that cause problems in the swing. The left arms bends, pulling the club away from the ball. At impact, we toe the shot and slice by falling away.
Find Cheap Flights for Over 450 Airlines!Save up to $15◊ with Promo Code: CHEAPAIR15Students of Gorney have several ways of expressing the firing of the hips. They include “fire the right hip around,” “left leg straight with hip turned behind,” “Fire right knee toward the left knee,” get the pocket “turned toward the ball,” and my favorite, “hit the ball with the right hip.” For some reason, that last one sounds easier.

‘Firing’ the hips requires some sense of abandon, which some of us lose as we age, even though we still have the wherewithall to do it. We also tend to get shy in the hips when we’re playing with other golfers, or generally being watched. There’s a vulnerability to letting it all go like that, even though we know that is what’s needed. I noticed that under Gorney’s online lesson concerning hips, a gentleman responded underneath in the comments. He says that he can still hit it two hundred yards plus firing the hips, but that it goes 50 yards right of the target.  I can’t address that point, but he adds, “Should I be satisfied with that?” Gorney suggests simple, repeated exercises to get used to the feeling. I’m going to try them and report back, but to the 70 year-old, I feel confident in saying “No, don’t be satisfied with that.” Being 70 or near it is not so incapacitating as we like to think. Let’s go seek that extra 20 or 30 percent hip turn to the target before we start blaming age. I hope that Mr. Gorney will agree.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.