The Hip Turn

As I pointed out in a recent comment, still shots can be deceiving. There are photo’s of Mike Austin from behind and people are being led to believe that his right hip is not turning prior to impact. First, remember that camera angles can be deceiving. Look at this photo from in front of Mike – the hip has clearly turned before impact. Remember, on the backswing it rotated back 30 degrees (simply from the straightening of the right leg). Just to get back to a position parallel to the target line it would have to regain that 30 degrees. Also, remember that you obviously aren’t seeing motion in a photo.

26 thoughts on “The Hip Turn

  1. Very informative and very easy to pick up. You did a great job! Two questions. First how do I measure myself to the ball? Mike Dunaway has you set the wrist and bend from the hip socket. Works ok but he left it wide open as what angle to set the left wrist. Second, we don’t do a Dan Shauger takeaway….no counter rotation? If anything the upper right arm rotates external not internal?

  2. Awesome! Narrow stance is a key. First thing that Mike Austin taught.
    Otherwise, the legs and hips work against each other.

  3. Chuck, Yes this helps a great deal. In fact because of your videos and discussion, I narrowed my stance emulating yours. I was able now to turn at the finish as you describe. Previously I was spinning out on my left leg. And that is what is being shown by MA instructors on youtube as they demonstrate the swing. Their left leg is spinning out! Thank you for the proper technique!! Your website is terrific.

  4. The finish is very important. You can hear Mike Austin constantly yelling at me on this.
    For one, it completes the entire motion. When I have used a radar device, I can see the swing speed increase just by making sure I complete the finish. At the finish my knees don’t touch, but the right knee is pointing to left feel and the inner thighs touch. Actually, I have some clips where I wasn’t doing it correctly. Mike Austin had a great description of it. I will let witness it directly on the clips. You will never hear it described on the Golf Channel in that fashion – I can assure you.
    You also can have the feeling of your right hip turning into your left hip. (That feeling prevents your left hip from simply spinning out.) Hope that helps.

  5. Hi Chuck,
    This is to inquire of the correct proper finish position of the feet. Are both knees touching and both on the front line, back foot on the toe?
    I ask because because I am not able to locate one of your videos with good camera angle. Please note the MA instructors I’ve been to, have their swing on youtube. None of them have a good finish (you would think they would only post a very good representation). They are only partially turned, back foot not on the toe, knees separated. Not to belittle them, but I am seeking the correct picture to have in my mind. Thank you.

  6. T,
    Just wanted to clarify the right knee action. From the backswing, the right knee kicks toward 10 o’clock.
    The right butt cheek will feel like it’s moving down and toward 10 o’ clock as well. However, from there the right knee will continue and turn until it’s facing left field (for the right handers). (The shift AND the turn.) You can think of it as your belly button pulling your right side through. Or, your muscles of your right leg, turning your right hip.

  7. Hey T. Thanks for your comments.
    All the comments are appreciated as I then have the opportunity to address issues that then appear in the video clips.
    I will take a look at the differences in chin position. (I may have been that I was working on something that made the chin look more upright. For example, I had a tendency to slump down into the ball on the way down. Mike consequesntly wanted me to make sure that my head stayed in the same position.)It could be due Mike’s height. I can tell you what Mike Austin taught however. As to the chin, Mike Austin, wanted, what he called – a “military chin”. The chin does not stick out. It’s back a bit -but not against the neck. That provides room for you shoulder and left arm to move under the chin. It also relaxes the back of the neck. Literally think of a member of our military while “at attention”. You can also jut your chin out and then literally push the chin back (not down) with your finger. I have clips of it. As to moving the ball, you raise an interesting topic. To answer your question, Mike and I spend hours on working the ball and I have some great clips. Despite the perception, Mike Austin was not just concerned with power. He wanted a powerful swing, but you needed to learn how to play golf and hit shots. When moving the ball to the left or the right, he wanted the stance and the swing motion (included the pivot) to stay the same. He moved the ball via different actions of the hands – an idea contrary to “modern” instruction. But, he had a reason for it. For example, he didn’t want a closed stance to hook it, because that would inhibit the hip action and therefore diminish the hit you could put on the ball. Hope that helps!

  8. Chuck, first off, incredible site! I was hoping you could a little bit about the chin and neck positioning at setup. I’ve noticed that MA throughout his career always seemed to have his chin well down at address. That move makes sense to me as having a lowered chin or a neck angle inline/rounded to the spine should allow the shoulders to work on a more perpendicular plane. Thus, helping his signature underhand throwing motion. However, I’ve noticed that in your own swing the chin appears to stay a little higher at address and throughout the swing. Also, I understand that getting the right kneecap towards 10 o’clock is an extremely important motion in the MA swing. I was wondering did MA ever teach or mention that he would work the ball with alternate right knee motion? For example, more towards 9 o’clcok for a fade or more towards 11 o’clock for a draw. Thanks man.

  9. Chuck, first off, incredible site. Could you talk a little bit about head and neck positioning at setup. It looks to me that MA keep his chin well down almost to point it came close to touching the neck. It makes sense to me as that move should force the shoulders to move in a more perpendicular fashion, thus allowing the ability for his signature underhand throwing motion. However, I’ve noticed that your chin appears to a little higher at address. Also, I understand getting the right kneecap towards ten o’clock is a major part of having the proper downswing. Would MA ever try and work the ball with the right knee? For example, 9 o’clock for a fade or 11 o’clock for a draw? Thanks!

  10. Hello Chuck! :=)
    I have a question regarding the backswing;
    In one of the Austinlogy dvds Austin explain that he turn his left shoulder under his chin at the same time as he flex his left knee and extend his right knee.
    I feel that pulling the right shoulder back/upward at the same time as I extend my right knee gives me a coordinated backswing and pivot.
    What your feeling? Extend right knee shifting the weight first and then turn shoulders?

    Regards Staale

  11. Thanks Chuck – Thats what I was thinking as I was trying to put all the bits and pieces I’m learning together. I just wasn’t sure I was getting it right. Now I know I am at least correct in my thinking of what to do if not correct in the actual execution of what Mike wanted us to do.

    I am on the right track and what you just told me confirms that.

    Thank you!

  12. Hey Jesse,
    You stand erect. Without bending the knees, you push your butt back until it’s just behind your heels – your arms with now hang naturally, perpendicular to level ground. (See past vidoe clip.) You bend the right knee so that your right hand can reach below your left on the club. This lowers your right hip and shoulder. This puts you in a hitting position. The force of the forward swing will be upward. As Mike Austin would say, you are not trying to pound the ball into the ground.
    Your left leg remains straight. You will feel weight into your left leg. Don’t over do it. But, you will feel weight into your left side. That’s how Mike Austin put it. Hope that helps.

  13. One thing about intitial setup I haven’t been able to clarify.

    Is your weight mainly on your left leg and does the left leg stay straight, no flex in the left knee at all, while you have flex in the right knee?

    For a right hander of course?

  14. Yes he did. It was always 30 degrees. Otherwise, your backside would be like a bear rubbing his behind on a tree – no power, just a wiping action. (As Mike Austin would put it.)

  15. Chuck, Did Mike ever refer to the 30 degree hip turn to the 4 o’clock and the through position as the 10 o’clock? Did Mike ever have students turn more than 30 degrees (like 45 back 45 through) or was it 30 degrees for everyone?

    Thank you

  16. The good news is that you are being productive and checking yourself. This is critical stuff.
    Most golfers won’t take the time to get it down. It’s the foundation of the swing – literally.
    Get in front of a mirror or window pane and just work on the pivot.
    You don’t intentional make the right hip turn on the back swing. Make sure your right leg is bent at address and then straigten it. It bumps to the right but will naturally turn 30 degrees. That’s it!
    NOW, your left side turns into your right hip. THAT’S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO DETACH THE LEFT HEEL.
    (See, the “Lift the Heel” post.)
    As to the 2 foot balance to the 1 foot balance, check out my earlier post with Mike Austin on the tripod.
    It’s all there. Also, check out the post where I called it something to the effect of “You’re Not a Dinasaur”.

  17. Hello again Chuck! :=)

    I thought I had the pivot working at todays practice, but looking at the videoclips shows a different story.
    I still turn my right hip too much and my head move right during the backswing.
    Maybe I set up with too much weight on my right side? Austin said something about moving from a 2 foot balance to 1 foot in the Peaceriver video. It also feels like I “freeze up” when I hit at balls and cant extend the knee before turning. Frustrating? Sure! :=)

    Golfregards Staale

  18. Yes, at first don’t use your wrists at all. In otherwords, keep them static. Don’t bend them at all.
    (You don’t have to squeeze the heck out of the grip.) This will give you a better feel for the weight shift and pivot.
    Additioonal benefit: It’s a potentially useful safe, “go to” shot when you just have to knock it down the fairway or onto a green.

  19. Chuck:
    My mainproblem with the compound pivot is that I have been turning like in a barrel rather than like a ferrys wheel which Austin teached. Maybe those practices you mentioned will help me to do the pivot more correct.
    Did you mean by “dead hands” that one should not try to set/release the wrists at all during that practice?

  20. I agree. Swings will look different based on a person’s build, flexibility, past injuries, etc.
    Plus, we are not perfect and aren’t necessarily performing precisely as Mike Austin demanded.
    I can assure you (and I have had the pleasure of speaking on the phone with Mike Dunaway while at Mike Austin’s house) that Mr. Dunaway didn’t always perform precisely as Mr. Austin wanted and he was on the receiving end of the growls, twisting and tugging that only Mike Austin could deliver during a golf lesson.

  21. Watching Mike Dunaway’s swing compared to Mike Austin on his teaching tape seems as if Dunaway is turning his hip differently than Austin. Dunaway’s build (sorter and squater) makes it appear that way (see how his right toe moves foward through impact) but it’s only an appearance as is testified by these photos of Austin.

  22. The forward (left shoulder) will raise – it lowered on the backswing. The spine tilts but check yourself in front of your reflection.
    You don’t want your head bobbing all over the place. (That would be too much of the spine tilting.) Your head stays still until the ball is gone. In fact, Mike Austin much more often stated that the lower part of your spine SWUNG (rather than tilt). Once again, that’s much more accurate as it’s a flowing MOTION, not a movement and resultant static position.

  23. Oh how I love that angle and move Chuck!!! Working at it daily, thank you so much for sharing the truth.

  24. Thanks for clearing it Chuck!

    These pictures showw the right hip turning much better than the ones I found.
    One question more if you dont mind;
    Does your spine tilt much upposite of target when you shift to the left foot?

    Regards Staale! :=)

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