The Transition

Mickey Wright photoMickey Wright is said to have had the best “transition” ever!  “What is a transition?” you ask.  “It is that point in your backswing where your hips start forward and your hands reach their peak.”

Mickey Wright hit her drives further than most male professionals of her days on the tour.  

Watch this slow motion video of Mickey Wrights’ golf swing with an eye on the lateral motion – rotation and soft slide – of here hips and the pivot of her legs that starts her downswing.  On the downswing her right elbow brushes her right hip as she shifts forward to the IMPACT position. 

The benefit of a good transition is it increases the speed of your swing, thereby improving distance and control with less effort.  Swing within yourself, and make good contact!

What about tempo and timing?

The easiest way to understand the difference between tempo and timing in the golf swing is this: tempo is a preference, timing is a principle.  Timing is the process of putting together a sequence of motions that will result in good, solid impact.  Tempo a personal preference of how to do that.

Some great players have quick swing tempos, while some have slower swings.  The commonality is their timing is near perfect – for them.  Everyone has there own tempo and timing.  They reach impact correctly time and time again.  Measured, most top professionals have something like a 3:1 ratio of backswing to downswing – at impact.

Here’s the key:  Players who make quicker backswings do not upset their usual 3:1 ratio.  We all love to watch the slow, syrupy swings, like those of Ernie Els or Fred Couples.  While enviable, their tempo doesn’t make their swings any more effective than those of Ricky Fowler or Rory McIlroy, who have a much quicker pace swing.  See tour swings…

The angle of attack


In the photos to your left, the transition is measured by degrees.  If you watch the videos of Ben Hogan’s swing you will notice that he reaches a peak of 48 degrees at the top of his backswing with his irons, and the maximum peak of 58 degrees with his woods.  Why?  Well this is somewhat difficult to explain, and most often overlooked when practicing. 

driving with powerThere are three basic things to learn and work on.  The one move in the downswing that very few players use is the very natural lateral rotation and slide of the hips and pivot back and forward to IMPACT.  For a complete range of motion from address to finish, play the Mickey Wright video above.

1.) Widen your stance just a little to help you keep you weight inside your stance and feel your weight balanced on the balls and heel of your foot.  You should be able to wiggle your toes inside your shoes – the key is to not lean forward putting weight on your toes.  Your lower body starts moving before you finish your backswing and begin your downswing.

2.) The downswing begins from the ground up.  The action of your feet pushing off and the movement of your lower body transferring your weight forward.  This action will allow your hips to slide and rotate as you hold the angle on your downswing as demonstrated in this picture.  As you start the downswing your grip should be secure – but not tight – and your wrists and forearms should be passive – too tight is no good and restricts the release.  It will also causes you to cast the club, or give up the angle to soon. 


The picture on the right of Keegan Bradley shows the proper 90 degree angle of the hands and wrist in relation to the club shaft when you hands reach waist high on the downswing.  Holding the angle to this point in your downswing increases club head speed at IMPACT.  

NOTE:  When you practice, your arms should be hanging and feel heavy – dead weight – your grip pressure medium, and wrist flexible and loose.  This will help in releasing the club at the proper point in the downswing!


Mentally, imagine a race between your knees, hands, and the club face to the ball – Keegan Bradley at the IMPACT position. 

NOTE: At IMPACT, your knees cross the finish line first, then your hands, then the club head – your hands always beat the club head past the ball!  The proper position at IMPACT.

3.) Push off with your lower body … to view an excellent representation of the “transition” and using the lower body to begin this move, click on the VIDEOS link above of Mickey Wright.  Once there spend some time as her swing is replayed, then click the link to the still photo section for a better view as she sets her swing in motion and maintains the angle depicted in the photo above.  Mickey Wright drove the ball as far as her male counterparts on tour because she had a powerful transition and used her lower body to power her swing.  As you practice try to visualize and emulate her first move forward with the lower body.

Note: I’ve seen one of Hogan’s video where he is in continuous motion, and did not have any pause at the top of the back swing.  Technically his lower body is already moving forward before his club head reaches the very top of his back swing.  It appears to be one continuous movement where the pause you see is actually the transition – back to forward – like the arm motion of a major league pitcher throwing a ball.  Ben Hogan videos…

POINT – The start of the transition is determine by the lower body.  The earlier you start the transition the shorter the swing!   Visit the “Tour Swings” videos section of this Website for a slow motion view of the best tour players of today and their swings.

Keegan Bradley’s Swing Sequence

Click the photo below to see a complete photo gallery of Keegan Bradley’s swing pictured in Golf Digest!



Practice without fear!  Play without fear!  Golf is just a game!

book a lesson

Back to Golf Tips