Lead with the lower body

Learn this energy transfer move to start your downswing like a tour pro


David Cannon

There aren't many, if any, elite-level golfers who take the club back shorter than World No. 1 Jon Rahm. But guess what? As short as his backswing is when compared to his peers, he still kills the ball. He might be the best driver in pro golf. He was first in total driving, strokes gained off the tee and fifth in distance (318.9 yards) in 2021-'22 on the PGA Tour. This year? He's top 15 in all three again and No. 1 in scoring. He's awesome.

If he's not generating power through the length of his swing; if his swing length looks nothing like John Daly's or Bubba Watson's or Phil Mickelson's, then how does he do it?

There are a number of factors including his strength, how he recruits the big muscles of his body, how he leverages the ground, etc. But not to be overlooked is how he transitions from backswing to downswing. It's a move all good golfers make, but Rahm is the focus here because the length of his backswing is similar to the length of the typical amateur's backswing. There's a lot you can learn from his action.

First, watch Rahm's swing a few times.

Lead with the lower body

"Note that his lower body already has started its move toward the target while the upper body is still completing the backswing. In other words, Rahm is moving in two directions at the same time," says Hall of Fame golf instructor David Leadbetter. "This action is like snapping a towel or cracking a whip, and it transfers a lot of energy into the club."

Unfortunately, this change-of-direction move is awkward for many amateurs to copy, Leadbetter says. You're essentially being asked to laterally shift your lower body toward the target as your upper body is still rotating away from it. But it might be uncomfortable because you're thinking about it the wrong way.

It's likely that you already do it other activities. The classic example would be to pick up a football and throw it as far as you can. Pay attention to how you intuitively step toward the spot where you are going to throw while your throwing arm is moving away from it. That's the transition in golf!

1 move to help you groove it

Here's another comparitive move: Shadow box and throw a big uppercut with your dominant hand. What initiated the sequence?

Yep, your hips rotated forward while you were loading up your arm for the big punch. Again, that's what your golf-swing transition should feel like—the hips lead.

"Creating a proper downswing sequence is very challenging for most amateurs because we all intuitively want to create speed and power with our arms," says Neal Hausch (@neal_hauschgfp), a Golf Digest Certified Fitness Trainer and one of 50 Best Trainers in America. "The key is to get the arms out of the equation. You have to train to use the body's big engines to create power."

With that in mind, Hausch has three simple exercises you can do in the gym that will help you with this change-of-direction move. You're essentially training to dissociate movements of the upper and lower body. Watch the video to learn how to improve your transition.

To learn more about Golf Digest's Fitness Trainer Certification program, click on this link.