As a PGA professional, I’ve always taught people to swing it the same way, the fundamentals being no different whether I’m teaching a woman or a man. But is it time we started to teach men and women to swing it differently, and is it safer?
By Charlotte Ibbetson
There’s been plenty in the news recently about the ‘x-factor’ swing and the strain it puts on golfers’ spines. Put simply, the x-factor is the angle your body creates as you accelerate your hips through the ball whilst keeping your back to the target. In theory, the bigger the x-factor stretch, the more power you create through the ball and the further you’ll hit it. In practice though, it’s one of the main contributors to lower back pain in a lot of golfers.
Enter Reeves Weedon. For the past seven years, Reeves has been conducting research on the prevention of lower back injuries in golf. What he has created is a research-based ‘lower body swing’ that puts significantly less torque on the spine without any loss in hitting distance or accuracy. The research also claims that the technique may be the most efficient way for women to swing the club.
“The main issue with the ‘modern’ swing is that during the downswing, the thorax accelerates whilst the pelvis decelerates. As a consequence, the thorax and pelvis act in opposite directions, inflicted massive torque on the lumbosacral spine.”
In layman’s terms, the upper body accelerates whilst the lower body slows down, putting a strain on the spine. The ‘lower body swing’ addresses that torque by moving both the upper and lower body at the same speed.
“In our lower body swing, the thorax and pelvis move at similar speeds, reducing the amount of torque.”
Here’s what the ‘lower body swing’ looks like:
The research also suggests that this could be the most efficient way for women to swing the club, based on their physical makeup.
“Women should use their legs much more in their golf swing. Our research has shown that in general, women are far stronger in their legs and glutes than their upper bodies compared to their male counterparts. They’re also generally more flexible too. The ‘lower body swing’ helps women to make the most of their strength and flexibility to hit the ball further.”
Whilst it might sound like a bit of a generalisation (granted edging on stereotyping), it does make a lot of sense. The glutes are the single biggest muscle, stabilising the body to run faster, jump higher and evidently hit a golf ball further. If it’s women generally are stronger in their lower bodies, then let’s use that strength to our advantage – and stay pain-free on the course.
I’m not sure it’s a swing I’ll be adopting straight away, but it’s definitely sparked a few ideas and changed the way I’ll be approaching teaching from now on. In particular, I'm really interested to see how women who are new to the game pick up the swing vs the traditional swing I'm so used to teaching now.
You can read more about the lower body golf swing at lowerbodygolfswing.com or purchase the book, Lower Body Golf Swing on Amazon.