To Hinge or Not to Hinge

I always knew that an active wrist hinge (traditional golf instruction), changed the club face and was not repeatable. This wrist hinge was only done in preparation to throw the club head at the ball for power. Well, you may get a little power from it, but for every action there is an opposite reaction… so essentially… hinge on the backswing, leads to a flip on the downswing. The chances of timing this into a solid, straight golf shot are very small. Plus, when every thing is hinging at the wrists, the radius of the swing is cut in half (the length is only from the wrists, to the club head.

So as my method progressed, I wanted to have a full radius at impact (the front arm in line with the shaft leading the club head), AND use the body rotating as the source of power. I could see this in all other athletic movements (like throwing a ball).

For many years, I taught “passive hands” and “constant grip pressure”. Some of my earlier teaching mentions, the wrists passively hinge and unhinge on their own. This was in hopes that we could remove the inconsistencies of active hinging and active unhinging. These thoughts of passive hands and constant grip pressure, did help improve consistency.

As time passed, many of my students still had the urge to throw the club head and had trouble trying to stop flipping. It then dawned on me that since we want a straight line of the front arm and club shaft at impact, we could setup that way to begin with… then maintain that setup shape using the shoulders only to carry the arms/club to the top of the backswing (Steve Stricker look)… and since there was no change in the wrists, there would be no urge to have to flip to return the shaft in line with the front arm or square the club face back at impact. We could just use the body to unwind, bringing the arms/club back down in front of the body and around to the left (right hander).

Using this concept, I realized we can setup with the shaft in line with the front arm, elbows close together and SET THE WRISTS* (just how we want them back at impact)… then we just maintain that shape (hold the wrists in that shape and pinch the elbows), then use the shoulders only for the backswing. This winds the Large back muscles for a ton of power potential… then we just use the body to unwind.

* Experiment with the amount of grip pressure. Squeeze and hold pretty tight the entire swing and just use your turn to trap the ball…you should hit a nice solid shot via your body rotation not hands.

20 thoughts on “To Hinge or Not to Hinge

  1. I’m trying to keep myself from hinging, but it’s tough to change 40 years of playing that way, Ross. My main problem is pulling the ball and lack of distance. consistently 10 yards shorter with all clubs with your swing. Do I need to turn my hips faster in the downswing for more distance? Thanks!

    1. First Greg. Many of your questions are already answered in the Forums. That is the best place to look and ask questions, so others can learn too.

      You don’t change “not hinging” in one day. It will take practice and repetitions to “replace” the habit. There are many great drills that will teach you.

      Some golfers lose a little distance at first (many gain distance too), it depends on how much of the method you are applying. Turning faster (correctly) does add distance. That is why the swing analysis is so helpful. It lets me help direct you based on your needs.

      Now… your pulling question is answered here:

  2. Hey Ross,

    I recently purchased your system and have seen great improvement in both my distance and direction control with all my short clubs (wedges through 8 iron), but with anything longer–particularly my hybrids and woods–my results are very inconsistent. One shot will be a beautiful soft draw, but most are hooks. I am having a difficult time controlling the swing with my large muscles with long clubs. The hybrid/ wood club head feels like it is lagging much further behind than the short irons or wedges. Any advice?

    1. Hi Brian
      Can be that the backswing is too long and when the arms/club are behind, there is a need the throw the club head to catch up. When the hands have to do that, the body stops to support the “throw” then the club head closes and gets ahead of the body causing the hook. Watch the “Ross Move” and shorten up the backswing so the arms/club can come along.

  3. Hi Ross

    Just come back to your site, preparing for this season’s golf.

    So, So, I’m (very) pleased with this new (corrected) topic as I do remember posting a comment on hinging a few years ago…
    At the time, you said that I should “let the wrists hinge by themselves” even though the feeling was that if I ever let that happen, the ball would go haywire, mostly to the left.

    Still a full supporter of your method


    1. Hi Olivier
      At the time I knew that passive hinging was much better than active hinging (release). A passive hinge could produce a passive return. Later, in development, just setting up with the shaft as we need it back at impact, and then maintaining that shape and letting the shoulders control the backswing, and then the body rotation control moving the ball works the best. Taking the hinge out of the backswing is a huge change and hard for some to accept. The key to my method is the rotation through impact and that allows us to just keep the wrists fixed.

  4. Ross I understand most of what you are trying to teach. However, I find it hard to know what to do with the right elbow at the top of the swing. Is the right elbow wedged against the right hand rib cage? any help would be appreciated.

    1. The arms/club are controlled by the shoulders, so the back elbow (your right elbow) does not take an active role. It does not do anything. This method has less moving, parts. We do not want (or need) the elbows/hands to change much or any, so they do not have to try to correct themselves by impact. We really want to just setup with the shaft in line with the front arm, wrists set perfectly and try to maintain that “template” via the shoulders on the backswing, and the body for the downswing. Consistency and Power comes when the Large Muscles take control. Focus more on just trying to comfortably pinch the elbows towards each other during the swing and the elbows will take care of themselves. Also start with short shots to learn to feel the arm/club being controlled by your shoulders/body during the swing.

  5. I get the no-hands hinge thing. It has really helped me. You talk about how your elbows will still hinge some on backswing. It seems, however, that the elbows will only hinge slightly if the hands do not hinge. It feels to me that to get much of an elbow hinge, it has to be accompanied with some hand hinge. Mechanically it doesn’t feel like I can do one without the other. Is there ever a point where you would encourage a deeper elbow hinge, and how do you do that without hinging the hands.

    1. Hi Jim
      The real crux of all this bending and hinging of levers is… Are there benefits? What are the consequences?

      Let’s take our given:
      With my method, at impact, the center of the body will be rotating. This rotation will essentially be “dragging” the arms/club around to the left (right hander). This would be like if we were pulling a 50 lb. bag of sand around on the ground in a circle. All our body muscles combine to unwind this weight. THE LAST THING WE WOULD DO, IS TRY TO USE OUR WRISTS TO FLIP THE BAG AROUND. This in a nutshell is my method vs. the traditional golf swing. What this all means is… there is NO benefit on hinging wrists or changing elbows or any combination of levers, if at impact WE WILL BE DRAGGING (VIA THE BODY ROTATION), THE ARMS/CLUB AROUND TO THE LEFT.

      The consequences…where there is hinging, there will be un-hinging and adversely “flipping” (where the club head has passed the hands at impact – not good). Now flipping causes almost all miss hits. Flipping causes the club face to close sending the ball any direction. Flipping causes the club to decelerate. Flipping usually causes us to miss the sweet spot (power loss). Flipping changes the angle of attack causing thin & fat shots. Flipping forces us to constantly be changing where the ball position is to hopefully catch the ball as we’re flipping. That’s just the wrists… now for the elbows bending:

      If the elbows bend, we shorten our radius and are not consistent with the position and length of our arms/club. Makes it much more difficult to return back to impact in the same position that we started (the goal). Also, elbow bending lends to “arm lifting”. Having the arms take over and lift on their own, is the worst move for the golf swing. No power or repeatability. Lifting is a very weak move and the shoulders will stop rotating.

      Final thought… With my method, the shoulders control the backswing (alone). Once the Arms, Elbows or Wrists move on their own, or help on the backswing, the shoulders will stop turning. They will let the other body part take over and take a supporting role.

      1. With no hinge my shaft and clubhead point away from target on backswing.At most the club points parallel away from target at waist height and then I lift arms about 45 get up without covering eyes. To swing to where the shaft handle points at 90 degrees to target line I would have to be double jointed.What am I missing?

        1. Hi Fred
          You don’t have to get the shaft 90 degrees to the target line. All you have to worry about is letting the shoulders turn on the backswing and control the arms/club. There is no magic place or spot that the arms or club go on the backswing. The Shoulders turn the arms/club up (to when the shoulders stop), then the body unwinds bringing the arms/club back down in front of the body as the body continues unwinding to face the target.

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