Rotation In The Golf Swing: Why It Matters


If you want to reach your full potential in the game of golf, the proper rotation in the golf swing is essential.

Rotation is vital to timing, power and consistency.  Without the proper rotation a golfer will struggle with consistency and might lack the distance to take their game to the next level.

The great news about rotation is that every golfer can get a full shoulder and hip rotation to improve their golf swing!

Rotation In The Golf Swing: Why It Matters

The proper rotation in the golf swing, helps with the following areas:

  1. Distance
  2. Timing
  3. Consistency
Make sure you rotate through the shot as well!

Rotation in the Golf Swing: Distance

If you want to increase your distance, one of the quickest and easiest ways to increase your swing speed is to increase your rotation in the golf swing.  This starts in the back swing and allows the golfer to proper rotation and get the shoulders and hips turned.  

Ideally you will get the shoulders to at least a 90 degree turn and the hips to a 45 degree turn.  However, moving beyond and creating even more rotation can help with the overall swing speed, resulting in more swing speed.

As the golfer turns through the shot, keeping the body rotating through the shot is essential to distance as it keeps the speed at the ball and beyond.  If your body stalls and fails to rotate, the maximum speed is sometimes hit prior to the impact position.  Instead, keep turn and rotation through the shot and allow the club to swing through the hitting zone instead of directly at the ball.

Hip rotation in the golf swing

Rotation in the Golf Swing: Timing

It is essential to rotate on the backswing and the thru swing.  If you fail to do one or the other, the golfer relies too heavily on using their hands to manipulate the timing.  This leads to one day possibly playing quality golf when the timing is on and struggling the next day.  

Instead, the golfer should get the body rotating properly to take away the over reliance on the hands at the bottom of the swing.

If you watch the best golfers, there is a fluid motion through the shot and their timing is very good because of getting the proper rotation.

Golf swing follow: Speed out front!

How To Improve Rotation in the Golf Swing: Consistency

Of course when you can have the proper distance and timing in your swing, you can play more consistently from round to round and even within your round.  If you are someone that struggles with consistency from shot to shot within a round or overall from round to round, check a video of your swing from the caddie or side view to get a quality idea of the amount of rotation that you are using.  

Many golfers fight the stalling at the the bottom of the swing as results of not fully rotating, which impacts the timing and overall consistency.  Sometimes a shorter amount of rotation feels like it will be more consistent, but it messes with the timing and the loading in the golf swing.

How to increase driver swing speed (3 options)

Check out the 3 drills below!

How To Improve Rotation in the Golf Swing: 3 Drills

Drills to Improve Rotation In The Golf Swing

  1. Medicine Ball Drill
  2. Back to Target Drill
  3. Out of the Way, Out of the Way

Medicine Ball Drill

Take a 5 pound medicine ball and rotation back and through.  If you have the space, work on throwing the medicine ball backwards for 5 times and then the next 5 rotate back and then throw it forward.

If you can do this at the range, then pick up a golf club and keep that same feel or thought and work on rotating back and through the shot

Back to Target Drill

This one is more of a feel or swing through during the swing.  As you take your backswing, feel like you are moving your back towards the target.  Rotation back and then through the shot.  I would recommend using a smartphone to capture a video of your swing.  You can download a free app to see how far back your hips and shoulders turn during the backswing.

Out of the Way, Out of the Way

Once again, more of a swing thought vs a drill, but you can work on getting the chest out of the way on the backswing and then out of the way on the downswing.  I learned this one watching Shawn Clement and it really helps.  

I would recommend working on this swing thought at the driving range and then when you get to the course focus on the target or the task at hand.  Below is a great video from Shawn Clement on this drill.

Rotation In The Golf Swing: Over The Years

One of my favorite activities is watching golf swings from different eras on youtube.  I love the golf swings of Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones.  What I notice the most are fluid, unrestricted, longer swings where they rotate back and then rotate through.  They aren’t trying to manipulate the club through impact, instead they are winding up and unwinding.  Similar to the Shawn Clement video above.

If you have played a lot of golf, maybe your experience has been that when you try to manipulate a shot, it rarely goes well.  However, when you are almost carefree and take a full swing back and through, the result is often pretty good!  We can learn a lot from the eras in the past and add that rotation back in our golf swings.

The era in the 90s and early 2000s often saw many restricted swings where golfers would restrict their hips and then try to turn their shoulders a significant amount.  It takes some special flexibility to pull off this type of swing and can lead to injuries.

We are now back in an era with more free swingers that are trying to hit the ball high and far.  They let loose with the driver and the distance is as much due to the swing changes and physical dominance of some golfers as it has to do with technology.  The professional golfers are fast, strong and work on their distance!

Check out Bobby Jones and his rotation below!

Rotation In The Golf Swing: How to Measure

The great news for golfers is that the majority are walking around with a high speed video camera in their pocket in their smartphone.  Have someone take a video of your golf swing from the side and down the line.  Look for the following:

  • How far back do your hips and shoulders turn (side view)
  • Where is your head at address and impact (side view) 
  • How much do you rotate at impact (down the line view)

Major Key: Where is your head at address and impact?

One special thing to take note of is that you want your head at or behind the spot where it started at address when you reach impact.  The head that moves in front of this line and towards the target, can cause a loss in lag and distance from having to cast the club into the impact position.  

Instead, stay behind the ball and let your body rotate through.  One swing thought is to see the back of the ball at impact.  Keep that head back behind, which will allow you to get better rotation!

Final Thoughts

The golfer that gets a complete turn, resulting in full rotation back and through the shot will be more satisfied due to better distance and more consistency.  Can’t we all dream about more distance and consistency?  With the proper body rotation you can have a more fluid swing and reach those distance and consistency goals!

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About four years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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