Hips and Shoulders Turn to Start the Backswing

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 12:00 -- Don Trahan

The setup determines the motion. I've said that for years, and it's absolutely true. But, the takeaway determines the backswing, so it's important to understand exactly how to start your swing once you're ready to pull the trigger. By now, you should know that you need to take the club back toe up into the catcher's mitt. In my mind, this is the move that starts my swing. However, because I've been hooked up to swing analysis machines, I know that the first thing that actually moves are my hips and shoulders.

The hips and shoulders (and even your knee) should all start the swing together. You shouldn't focus on just moving your shoulders, because then you will get way too rotational and around your body. You'll be stuck in the sacred burial ground with no easy way of getting out. If you think about them all moving as a unit, it's much easier to get the feeling of a strong takeaway and backswing.

Check out today's video as I'll demonstrate how the proper sequential movements of the body are key to a good swing. It's what maintains your balance, while also providing you power and consistency. Your first thought should be to take the club back toe up into the catcher's mitt. That swing thought will automatically cause your hips and shoulders to move together in tandem, which is the goal!

Give it a try and keep it vertical!

The Surge

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NeilofOZ's picture

Submitted by NeilofOZ on

Surge, good reminder about the hips today, but when I looked at yours during the BUS and at the top, it seemed your hips had hardly moved. Would like to see you put a stick across these just to let me know how much, as it's difficult to determine from a "face on view".

Just did a quick check on mine to see how far they went at the top of the BUS and it wsn't that much either, probably less than yours, but if i mentally moved them first, then I had to let my right knee move a little more and my left knee a little forward and am starting to think now that I'm putting too much outward pressure on the knees for the PPGS to work effectively.

This could be one of my problems for hitting a lot of balls left as I have definitely increased my hitting power this year and prior to shifting over to the PPGS system I used my hips as a precurser to start the swing, with great effect sometimes.

I'm gonna work on this and see where it gets me, LOL.

Dave Everitt's picture

Submitted by Dave Everitt on

I have a problem with thinking of the whole right side moving as a unit to start the back swing. I know that we are not trying for a lot of X factor in this swing but how do we get any consistent torque if everything moves back together. I hit a lot of good shots now while thinking of the right shoulder blade turning back to trigger the back swing. It seems to be a move that is easy to repeat and results in the right amount of shoulder and hip turn without any danger of over rotating.

My feeling is that although my focus is on the the right shoulder blade, all the "pulling" muscles of the right side from the knee to the shoulder support it's turn back against a stable base.

Before the PPGS system, I like you triggered the back swing with the right hip with some success but found it a lot less consistent, because it was too easy to overdo the hip turn and under-do the shoulder turn.

Jerry Gaughan's picture

Submitted by Jerry Gaughan on

I read your manual at work on my lunch breaks alot - this was what I have been reading the last two days. I felt lately I have been jerking the club up with the hands instead of turning the hips and shoulders. This has caused pulls and pull hooks, especially with the driver. Worked on this for a while today just swinging the club, playing tomorrow morning can't wait to put it in action. Hope you are healing well sir, take care.
Jerry - Warren, MI

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Right Shoulder, hip and knee (to a lesser amount) all starting together. Very well put as usual Surge. I really don't think too much about it any more. And the club moving first? Perhaps but I don't feel focused there either. Just keeping it all quietly moving back and up while not rushing. Tempo is so huge for me not hurrying the back swing. The one piece take away helps in having the right tempo and then timing too.
Nice to hear from you Don and I hope your health and recovery continue on a strong path. Nice to see DJ playing better over all the past few weeks.
We are coming into some slightly cooler weather now. Perfect for golfing. Hope you all are playing as much as possible:)

cjguarino@windstream.net's picture

Submitted by cjguarino@winds... on

saw some old videos by Dalton McCrary that recommend the following:
1. start the swing with the "catcher mitt" image
2. swing up to between the neck * shoulder
2. swing down/finish keeping the hands in front of the "feet"

Have you seen/heard of him

wskripka's picture

Submitted by wskripka on

Where can I get a White and Black sun hat like Surge is wearing in the video ?

Brady's picture

Submitted by Brady on

The hat he is wearing is actually from Ramstein AB in Germany. We have thought about offering these with SwingSurgeon logos stitched onto them. Thoughts?

fdevita1@telus.net's picture

Submitted by fdevita1@telus.net on

Hi Don,
I am 63 years young and I first came to your web site because I was looking for a back friendly golf swing. I have had lower back issues since my mid forties and making the switch to PPGS has been a blessing.
After several years of working on the PPGS swing, watching your videos etc. I have managed to straighten out my drives and I am hitting more fairways than I ever have. Lowered my scores from 111 to 98 - 101. I struggle a bit with my irons off the fairway sometimes hitting my shots too fat or too thin. But I also found that I am not getting the distance with my irons even when I get a good clean strike. So three weeks ago I decided to review the hand book on How to Make a Peak Performance Golf Swing and what struct me immediately was something that I was not doing at address. "Item 5. Left arm and club should be in line. The left wrist is flat."
When I changed this one thing in my setup my 125 yd. 7 iron was now pounding it out 150 -160 yds. I have finally found the distance I was looking for but now I have to work at avoiding the fat and thin shots that will have a detrimental impact on achieving my new found distance. I am looking forward to more success and lower scores on the golf course and I have you and the PPGS to thank for it. Wishing you a speedy recovery Don and looking forward to seeing you back in front of the camera.
All the best, Frank

Leednc's picture

Submitted by Leednc on

I have that passage about the flat left wrist and always wondered if I had it right. Does anyone have a picture or a good daily showing this? My search skills seem to have abandoned me. I have searched through a bunch of 'grip' related stuff but haven't found something that clicks for me.
Thanks for any help you can provide. Lee

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

This video and Craig63's comment (well below it) may help you visualize and feel what's needed to keep a flat wrist and maintain it throughout the swing.
He speaks of the protractor and steel girder visuals and feeling.


Perhaps Craig's thoughts were originally learned from the folling 'old' daily. Though the attached video is one of 'lost' and unavailable ones, the comments of Surge below sound similar to Craig's. It does not specifically mention a flat left wrist but may help you realize how to maintain one.


The book drill may click for you


Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

Well, movin' on as they say. Tiger is in the market for a new coach. Surge?
Surge might have a slim window of an opportunity. Surge has said he could (can) fix Tiger's swing and in the process reduce his physical challenges. The PPGS's body friendly swing that is more vertical and more arms than body may be the answer. Would be awesome if it happened. One would guess that Tiger may look for a more high profile and an "on the same side of the street" type teacher like Butch Harmon (again) but who knows. One thing is for sure, there is a lot of talented players on the PGA tour who are starting to fill the void.
Was pulling for Jim Furyk at the Barclays and if not for a few missed putts and fairways he may have won (isn't that always the case?). I don't know about you all but it bugs me when they call a 44 year old player "old". At 57 I fell like I still have a lot in the tank. Of course I might be delusional. Fun place to be.
BTW on another note, my back and leg are much less painful lately and it looks like the body issues are nearly resolved without any more therapy and no surgery. If any of you have tried nearly everything and still hurting I can highly recommend the Dr. Sarno books and method. Mindbody stuff that is amazing.



resumez@cox.net's picture

Submitted by resumez@cox.net on


Old at 44? or 57 ? -- Just wait until you are 72!! hahahahahaha
It's all relative, as Einstein would say! LOL
Shot an 86 today - but yes, these days I have play from the first or second tees to do that! -- Hit all 14 fairways and 5 GREENS -- and 8 one putts. It all helps. "Gave a lesson" to two young guys on the importance of hitting the ball STRAIGHT. They were longer, from the white tees, but "all over the course" - left, right, left, right, etc. They probably scored around 95 or 96.

Keep hitting them STRAIGHT and LONG

Hal's picture

Submitted by Hal on

Amos, good for you, shot 86 at 72. I shot an 80 today. I am 75. Been playing ppgs 15 years now. Keep up the good work.

resumez@cox.net's picture

Submitted by resumez@cox.net on


Thanks for the kind words. Been dong the PPGS about 5 years now. I believe I have a "reasonable facsimile" of the swing now, but I am sure that if I could see Don or Doc, they would "fine tune" it a bit. My main problem is being a bit too flexible for a 72 year old -- I sometimes find it difficult to "stop rotating" at the toe line and just lift. The tendency is to keep rotating while lifting, resulting in a top of the BUS that if not in in SBG is "dancing on the boundary".
I score an 80 about 5 times a year - and one glorious day when I was totally "On-On-On" with all clubs I shot a 79, but 84 to 88 is my typical round - again from the second tees --probably equates to 87 to 92 from the whites (regular men's tees).

Keep hitting them STRAIGHT and LONG


Jerry Gaughan's picture

Submitted by Jerry Gaughan on

DJ - Tough finish to end the year. Hope he continues to work hard and keep improving. Anyone know if he has status back on the web.com tour next year?
Played sat at Old Oaks 39-44-83. Good front, made three bombs, one for a birdie. Then played first 4 holes on back +7. Salvaged back with two pars and a second birdie on 17. Hitting it good, short game so-so, putting hot and cold. Had two three putts, but made those putts. Hope everyone gets lots of golf in this holiday weekend.
Surge: Keep healing bud.
Jerry - Warren,MI

Hal's picture

Submitted by Hal on

Jerry, I believe DJ does not any status this coming year except and occasional invite. He will have to go through the Web.com Q school in Florida in December

Jerry Gaughan's picture

Submitted by Jerry Gaughan on

Hal - thanks for the reply. Hope you are doing well.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

If I could (I should when I putt like you) I would break 80 every time out. I agree 44 and 57 are not old! Heck, your as old as you putt.
And you putt marvelous:) Glad you're still Playing golf and life pal.

Duncman1's picture

Submitted by Duncman1 on

I have been a Surgite for four years now. I believe like Surge it is the only practical, duplicative, efficient swing there is hands down. However I have always been frustrated by certain teaching methods Surge incorporates. First of all when we talk about the swing by itself we are talking about biomechanics not physics. The pendulum swing is accomplished by one and only one action and that is by the movement of the forward arm. Every thing else must follow this action. Your shoulders and hips turn automatically. There will be a point which Surge talks about as the limited turn where you will know that you then raise your arms up into the vertical swing (up the tree) that Surge talks about. Once again if you are doing this in its most natural "biomechanically" correct way you will not have to think about it. Way to much information is being put into the take away and is entirely unnecessary. To understand what I am saying practice this drill: Facing frontwards move your golf front arm in the direction of your back swing as if you were going to shake someone's hand without turning your whole body to face them. If you focus on doing this almost not trying to turn your hips or shoulders you will see that you can't do it. Your shoulders and hips will want to "naturally" turn with the sideways movement of this arm. If you think of the club as nothing more then an extension of your arm you will perform half of the swing simply and naturally. Much more teaching should be done on the angle of the wrist in relationship to the club because this is where the weakest part of the swing is biomechanically speaking.

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

We know Amos is a short game wizard and one putt wonder but guess who broke 40 for nine yesterday? My wife Cindy who has only been golfing for a little over 2 years now shot her first 39 that included a double bogie 7 on the ninth hole. Aside from hitting the ball great for 8-1/2 holes yesterday SHE ONE PUTTED 7 TIMES!! Most of them came after great chips to 3 feet or closer and 2 were from 7-10 feet. "That girl is on fire".
I am so proud of her. She has a model Surge swing and he would be proud of her too. Though not as big a deal, I also shot 39 too. Breaking par still eludes me but I feel it is coming sooner or later:)

Robert Meade's picture

Submitted by Robert Meade on

I know this is not golf related but I also know their are those who still love America that read and follow this blog. A fellow Surgite sent me this by personal w mail but I knew many of you would enjoy it. If this doesn't sound like you then please do not watch it. I know many thousands of our fellow Surgite's are in other countries but they also may find it interesting. This is about the interesting history of our USA National anthem. I learned alot.


Kevin McGarrahan's picture

Submitted by Kevin McGarrahan on

Most excellent, Robert! Thank you.

The only thing that would have been better is if they had done all 4 verses. Most people have never heard the entire song.

jimlmoore@sbcglobal.net's picture

Submitted by jimlmoore@sbcgl... on

I recently made a discovery that has really improved my ball striking.
It seems with time and getting older , I was beginning to get too flat on my back swing, which is hard to notice for yourself. Poor contact was driving me crazy.
It must have been something you said on one of your videos that caused me to start lowering my left shoulder at the start of the back swing . I now concentrate on bringing my left shoulder inside the target line ( more tilted down ) and the results have been very gratifying . I now hit the ball more solidly and with much better accuracy and trajectory.
I wanted to pass this on to you in case you agree and wish to pass it on to other Surge proponents .

Jim M.