• Mike Hammond, CSCS, TPI

Can You Turn?

The number one way to stay pain and injury free in golf is to make sure you can turn into a full backswing. Just because you are getting older does not mean that you have to give up swing. If you have good mobility around the four centers of rotation for golf, you can golf pain free with a full backswing for the rest of your life.

What are the four centers of rotation?

- Neck

- Shoulder

- Torso

- Hips

If you do not have adequate rotation out of one of the four (50% of golfers do not, 25% of golfers fail two tests), you are what is known as a “ticking time bomb,” meaning injury or pain can strike at any moment when you golf. Try these simple tests at home to see if you have adequate rotation.


Wait, your neck isn’t supposed to rotate. I have to keep my eyes on the ball, right? Yes, but that’s precisely why your neck rotates in your swing. When your torso turns back into your golf swing your chin is pointed down at your lead shoulder. To test your neck rotation at home, try to touch your chin to your collarbone on your lead shoulder (left for a right-handed golfer). Does it reach? Is the movement stiff? If you can’t reach or your neck is stiff as it moves, that’s a fail. No problem reaching the collarbone? That’s a pass.


Your trail-side needs to externally rotate to lift your club up overhead to the top of your backswing. If your shoulder can not externally rotate this could lead to a flat shoulder plane, an over-the-top swing, or an early extension and loss of posture. All of these characteristics make it much harder for you to golf consistently and may be what is causing your misses. To test your external shoulder rotation: 1) stand like you are at address with a long iron 2) stick your arm straight out to the side with your elbow bent at 90* 3) without allowing your elbow to move, try to place your hand behind your head. If your hand does not reach behind your head, fail. If you have no problem moving your shoulder, pass


Your upper-body power has the second-highest correlation to power in the golf swing. The inability to rotate around your rib cage won’t allow you to fully tap into your power potential. To test: 1) sit on a chair and cross your right foot over the left 2) place your hands on the back of your head 3) turn your shoulders as far as you can to the right 4) switch your feet and repeat on the other side. Mark it as a pass if you can turn your shoulders past 45* and a fail if you reach or are short of 45*.


Most amateur golfers don’t get enough power from their lower body. If you can’t internally rotate around your hips, you’re very likely underutilizing your lower body in your swing. For this test, walk in place for 10 seconds. When you stop look at where your feet are. If your toes are pointed out, you can’t internally rotate your hips because your external rotators are over powering your internal rotators.

If you failed any of these home tests, please sign up for a Golf Performance Evaluation with Gateway Golf Performance. A full evaluation will pinpoint exactly what you need to do to start turning again. The first goal for every client is to get them playing pain free. Once a golfer is pain free, they can begin to strengthen their game and play to their full potential for the rest of their life.

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