A question about Rotation

I have a question/questions that has/have plagued me for as long as I’ve played the game and it would be cool to get some thoughts on it. I go back and forth with what I think about it, and often with considerable certainty about each one, and maybe that’s just the way it should be for balance over time. I imagine you’ve thought about this at length, Lag, so it would be cool to hear your thoughts.

Does the will of the rotating body impose itself on the arms and club, or does the rotation of the club encourage the rotation of the body? Or both at the same time? And if it’s the same time, are there two different starts to the swing? And where are they felt? Or is there just one, and what and where is it?

When I think about it, I picture it in an ‘in to out’ or ‘out to in’ sort of journey. Can we really move from the outside or is that just an illusion? If I turn my hand, where does that turning really originate from a physical perspective? It’s a real baffler, and I’m right on the edge in terms of really hammering down my thoughts on it. And even though the actions are so closely related and hard to define or separate, they seem so completely different in terms of how you’d go about them. From my understanding, martial artists seem to say that everything moves from the middle- is that literal? When I flick a crumb am I doing that from the middle?
I know you guys discount the backswing, but I still think that it’s important. Things do happen during the backswing or journey to the slot, so they can help or hinder depending on what they are, and they do start somewhere.

A lot of questions to sort through…but they are good questions.

I would tend to think the word amalgam would serve the discussion well in terms of prioritizing where movement starts…with the caveat that within the amalgam are primary, secondary, and tertiary attributes in a systematic sequence.

For instance, when changing our walking direction from straight forward to around a corner…the first thing to move would be the shoulders, then the hip, then the lead leg. But even within that sequence, a subtle movement of the head comes after the shoulder movement but before the hip movement.

Perhaps the head movement sensed between the shoulder and hip movement would be parallel to shaft rotation responding to the turn going back. Don’t know the real answers, or even if there are any, just some of my initial thoughts on the subject. :slight_smile: RR

Good points. I wonder of this is a Pandora’s Box of a question… but it plagues me so I thought it would be cool to put out there…

I think that since the club is an inanimate object the origin must begin within the golfer. After your free ride down / pivot compression something triggers in the brain subconsciously and rotation begins. Then its an action reaction dance with the club generatingpressure in the hands and the body/brain rotating to sustain or increase the pressure. Thinkingabout this has me wondering though: how do you know where you are in the swing? Do you monitor the sequence in terms of time (i.e. ththis backswing has taken just about long enough and i need to transition and rotate now) or through space (i.e. my hands are up by my shoulder i should transition now)? Sorry to threadjack just got me thinking.


An interesting question for sure and I doubt there’s a truly definitive answer to it. But… it will be nice to hear some others’s perspective.

In my case I’m finding it more important to move from the inside, primarily because I don’t think my core likes to follow my hands and arms “fully”. It’s too easy for me (if I move the hands independently) to end up with too little pivot to work with. Lately I’ve worked on a full full full turn of the upper body with the arms/hands following that lead. I don’t think I’ve optimized it as my tendency when doing that is to get the arms pulling a bit too much inside on the backswing. I know we don’t worry much about the backswing here but I think there is an optimum backswing motion/path that allows for a little more “transition pressure” (my term) via a little loop from out to in. Too much “in” on the backswing and I feel like I start the firing from P3 from a more “static” starting position than desireable. I think a little loop provides a bit more pressure I can work off of.

The above is personal feel stuff so others may not concur.


I would disagree with “the backswing is not important here”. The backswing path is not important as some like to loop it and others like to drag it inside, but we work on quite a few principles that ensure the backswing achieves our objectives. At the moment I’m working on pulling it inside in the takeaway. I really need to feel the 4:30 line going back and so that path allows me to visualise it and have more chance of finding it on the way down, but this may change over time as I improve.

I’m not sure if I fully understand the question about rotation, but for me recently the more I fan open the clubface on the backswing through pronation, the more it encourages me to rotate hard in the downswing. A big and flat rotation is my goal in the backswing, and then from laid off at the top I feel that the flat rotation in the downswing is a must otherwise I’ll be fore right. I haven’t hit a ball right yet, although it’s still early days with this path.

The mastery level of ball striking is going to come from an inner motivation. Very martial arts in form… Chi center.
It was also brought to light in “Golf in the Kingdom”

The chain of events is barely visible if not at all. But the Chi motivates both the backswing initiation, transition, pivot firing and final destination.

The firmer the body… or the more connected it is through deliberate muscular tension… the more difficult it will be to see visually… because we are basically speaking of invisible forces … similar to electrical current.

If I were to place a 2x4 across a triangular fulcrum… and move it up and down from one end… with clear fishing line like a puppet show from above, and you could not see the line… you would not be able to tell which side was motivating the movement.

However, if the board was replaced by a very flexible material such as garden lawn edging thin plastic molding, you would easily be able to see what is motivating the movement because you would see a wave in the material happening.

The golf swing is no different… and if there is a true secret… an invisible secret to golf… this is it… from putter to driver.

Perhaps that why I sense a very slight sit down feel when starting backwards- it feels, and I mentioned this before on another thread, like a very very slight bump forward along with a simultaneous lowering downward into a center. Much like a forward kick in karate, where there is a lowering down into the dantien area which spring loads power for engagement. And this too speaks to lowering from the top…compressing into the chi area and making things nice and firm.

I think it was in Teebox’s re-read of Murphy’s book where I said about the only thing I really remember about that book was the cool way phonetics were used to capture the local dialect…and also a dark moonlight night where the character with the shallilagh was pointing to Shivas’ lower midsection. Kinda now brings it into focus. Thanks for the post Lag :slight_smile: RR

Cool thoughts… thanks for sharing, guys.
One of the things that I always wonder about the middle, is that as a general rule, it tends to be a hub that the sides move around. Something is rotational because of the motion of the sides, I think. Obviously with something like the Dantien, we’re talking about something intangible so it can’t really be understood in logical terms. Or maybe it can, I don’t know.
The further you are from the centre the easier it is to rotate the thing. This is why levers are valuable, they sort of give us super powers. If you’re trying to loosen a lug nut and you use the centre shaft of the wrench, you’re going to struggle. Use it like it’s supposed to be used, and all of a sudden it’s a lot easier. We’re definitely working the sides in this action. I can’t help but wonder if the centre is actually a fulcrum, something steady that the sides work against or around. I find that when I think ‘move from the middle’ I sort of freeze, as if nothing knows how to move, and I think it’s somehow related to what I’m talking about with the quiet centre. It’s just very hard to move something from the middle of it- a wheel, a nut, a record, etc. all get harder to move the closer you get to the centre. And if you go to the very middle on some atomic level, it may be just a single point but it would still have sides I imagine. Or is there a pure centre that lives in some side-less reality? I’m still talking about the golf swing and don’t mean to get too deep into it, but I do wonder. How does that middle actually move rotationally from the middle? Maybe it’s not purely rotational? Maybe I’m trying to understand the energy centre in logical terms and it can’t be done. I told you I had questions.

I have been lurching here for quite some time now and just had to add something here. My handicap since starting to follow this page losely in 2008, and then devouring it in 2009 and 2010 has dropped dramatically, i have gone from shooting in the high 90´s to low 80´s and occasional high 70´s. I have implemented what I have found here on the free forums to the best degree that I can without partaking in the modules themselves.

Many things have changed for me in the last one and a half year.

My upright gear has gone 5 degrees flat(from normal - 7 degrees from my 2 degree upright lie. ugh), the 4:30 line is becoming more and more ingrained, post pivot acceleration and closely packed arms with active wrist firing is developing nicely also. But one thing I have to watch out for again and again, the glue…or no, more like the bolts that puts all these things together is, as lag rightly calls it… cohesive body tension throughout the body, radiating from the center…the chi If you will in my body. There is a right and a wrong way to do this, and I am just beginning to understand, but when I get it right my swing feels secure, robust, solid and ready to strike, both decisively and intentionally.

Im not much for writing, but I wanted to share this. This is an important piece of the structure as I understand it, perhaps the cornerstone, perhaps not, but important.



Having had no lessons I THOUGHT I was pivoting ok as I would swing from address with my left arm to top of backswing. Like most amateurs I fought a wicked slice off tee and long irons for my first 5 months. I “corrected” that slice with a super strong grip and started to enjoy the tee box but an occasional slice would creep back in if my grip wasn’t strong enough.

For some reason, when I read this “tip” in Golf magazine from Hunter Mahan something clicked for me with a better pivot as I never heard it explained this way. I went to range the next day focusing on this more center-rotation from inside my body more and (having not changed my super strong grip) hit my first ever duck hook with my 5i and then my driver. Sort of weird to be excited after hooking it two stalls over but to me, it was HUGE as it wasn’t a slice! I then weakened my grip and started to have one of best range sessions I ever had. Probably one of my most memorable lightbulb-moments since I started playing.

Ohh, here is what I read at magazine counter that night:

Also curious what the more experienced here think of Hunters 5 moves.

Bom its a great question and thanks for posting!

Ive been having the same struggles and I had a long chat about it with my one of my Aikido students. We talked a lot about the motivation of rotation and ‘true center’ of that rotation and didnt really get anywhere :slight_smile: But after a while he dropped this on me:

‘How is does the swing feel differently when trying to swing a rope compared to swinging a broomstick’

Me: Well you need to move the center back a little more when starting your pivot… etc

He said no. I mean ‘and rotates my left arm anti-clockwise’, if your elbow cant bend in relation to the arc of the arm swing, how does that feel…

Wow what a light bulb. The elbow bends only one way, if you rotate it slightly to the arc of the swing … well wow you have a broomstick. Dont know how I missed this as I’m used to applying arm locks against this every day! lol

Anyway thought I’d pass along my rotation lightbulb! Hope its relevant!


Good point on the elbows dthiele. Elbows only “open” or “close”. The definition of open or closed however is different than one might expect. If one is curling a dumbell weight upward, the fully bent elbow is called “opened”…and when releasing that now bent elbow to where you started, the elbow is now “closing”. That’s how I know it to be explained with no reason to suspect that a more obvious, and opposite, definition applies. Perhaps Macs may be able to shed some sunshine on this.

Here’s a little nugget to add to your new found elbow lightbulb. On page 100 of the Little Red Book, which is a section on chipping, it says…" Loosen your elbows. Remember that you are hitting the ball with your hands, not with your elbows." I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Penick about his statement to determine what shots were indeed hit with the elbows instead of the hands. It was a great discussion…nice man. :slight_smile: RR

I feel your pain :cry:

Thanks for that, Dave, good stuff. It’s good to know the question has some sort of universality to it. It’s a real baffler…
Do you think you could go a bit further into your elbow description, for some reason I can’t quite get my head around the image and it sounds very interesting. It may be one of those that dawns on my after a couple of more reads…

For all intent and purpose the elbow joint is a true hinge and only allows flexion and extension and no sideways movement. The sideway movment is by the radio ulnar joints (forearm rotation known as pronation and supination) and to some degree by rotatin of the humerus (upper arm) in the shoulder joint.

I like that lean action he talks about, that’s got some good qualities to it. I’m pretty sure Lag loves this one here :confused:
I’ve said it before, but you’re a good thinker for a beginner… I hope that doesn’t sound patronizing in any way, I think it’s cool to see how you’re going through the process…

I often think that a straight or overly connected/pinned left arm has a tendency to limit rotation which is one of the reasons I’m intrigued by Dave’s post about the elbow. What do you think about that Macs? I’ve always been a fan of the feeling of a softness in the left elbow, might that be a rotation enabler? By the sounds of it you know a little about this stuff!

Its rotation of the humerus (upper arm) in the shoulder joint, pointing the elbow down to the ground. When you swing your arm around in an arc the elbow its rotated so that it doesnt bend in that arc. The forearm can still do its magic :slight_smile: opening and closing. Its such a subtle change but so far it feels pretty good!

Anyway thought I’d go through my swing footage collection to see if I could notice anyone doing this…


I was browsing the swing sequence thread a couple of nights ago and BOm you had a great post early on on pg 8 I think about rotation (which I read prior to this thread starting) – talked about it having a circularity to it (…of course…), but in the sense that there isn’t necessarily an ending point – in that the movement continues to spiral into/be absorbed or braced by the rear foot. Not entirely germane to the discussion of what motivates/triggers the rotational movement I guess, but a thought provoking read. Even though my weight may end up mostly on my front foot, I feel at the end of a good swing as though I’m holding it there with the pressure from back foot.

Not expert enough to comment on the merits of the Mahan tip sequence, but on its face it seems antithetical to what I’ve learned w/ ABS (e.g., no axis tilt, hip slide, limp finish).

I have seen that article, and while I think Hunter is a great guy and a fine golfer, however, I finished the article scratching my head wondering how he justifies this advice? O% energy at PV5? If like Lag says that our post impact impact intentions effect what we do pre-impact…which I agree with 110%, then this would be very poor advice. This move most at worst certainly would be ZERO help in holding shaft flex through and beyond impact, and probably promotes pivot stall as well? Additionally, I can’t see how it would add accuracy, and I certainly don’t think a weak finish looks cool as the article advertises.