This fatal golf swing flaw is why you keep chunking your iron shots

Don't let this be you.

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There are few shots more underwhelming than a chunked iron shot. There’s something distinctly soul-crushing about being out on a beautiful golf course on a sunny day, seeing the green in your sights, and laying the sod over it. The ball tumbles forward a few yards, and your reward is having to hit exactly the same shot all over again.

Gross.

The good news is that the cause of your chunked iron shots is usually pretty simple. Our friends and partners over at GOLFTEC have delved into the data of millions of golf swings taken at their facility in one of the largest golf swing studies ever conducted, and discovered to an exacting degree one of the biggest causes of chunked iron shots among high-handicaps: Too much hip slide.

(If you’re curious how your own golf swing stacks up in this regard, you can book a lesson and your own local GOLFTEC for a golf swing evaluation right here.)

Why hip slide is bad

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard about the concept of ‘shifting your weight’ in the golf swing. You set up to the golf ball, turn over to your trail side on the backswing, and then back to your lead side on the downswing.

It sounds pretty simple, because in many ways it is. Shifting your weight like this is a very intuitive product of the way humans move — you do it as you walk without even noticing.

The problem is, golfers tend to take it to the extreme. They try to load into their trail side, and end up sliding away from the target on the backswing. They’re so far away from the target they need to slide back towards the ball on their downswing just so they can make contact. GOLFTEC found in their study that higher handicaps slide their hips away from the target about 1.5 inches more than lower handicaps. It’s why, by the time they get to impact, their hips are about half-an-inch further away from the target than where they started.

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The key: A centered turn

Jack Nicklaus’ centered turn is a move to strive for.

In short, swaying is bad, because it means the bottom of your golf swing is moving all over the place during your swing, which is makes it impossible to hit the ball with consistent contact — hence the chunked iron shots.

As we wrote about here, weight shift happens in the golf swing naturally during the takeaway, but as you lift the club to the top of your backswing, your weight begins to move back towards the target — and keeps moving towards the target all the way until impact. Keeping your weight more centered like this prevents swaying, and keeps the bottom of your golf swing consistently ahead of the ball.

All of which is to say: Beware hip slide. Turn, don’t slide, and keep your weight centered. We don’t like seeing those chunked iron shots of yours any more than you do.

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Director of Game Improvement Content at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.