We’ve all heard the term ‘close the gate’ the term given to the hips on the downswing as they turn through to a full finish.

Although I completely agree with this meaning, it’s important to understand that in the backswing the gate (the hips) have to open.

Many people don’t open/turn their hips enough in their takeaway and in turn their hands don’t move in the intended direction. We want the hands to not only move backwards, not only move upwards, but also move inwards. This can only happen when the pivot (body) functions properly.

It’s true that in the backswing we want the hands to lead the arms that lead the body, and then reverse the sequence on the way down. But it’s also important to understand that this sequence must happen sooner rather than later for the hands to do their job.

The 1 inch takeaway

For the hands to be able to move inside on the takeaway, the right hip must start moving out of the way to give the hands some room to move. If the hips are too static in the takeaway the hands generally tend to track along the toe line which is too straight. As mentioned the hands should move back, up and in.

If the hands move the arms, and the arms move the body – which includes the shoulders and hips. Try and practice a takeaway which involves the hands moving no more than an inch or so before you can start feeling some hip rotation. A great way to understand this chain reaction of movements is to start allowing the right knee to straighten as soon as you start moving your hands in the takeaway. this will facilitate the right hip moving upwards and allow the left hip to start moving downwards. This happens when the left leg bends and the right leg straightens in the backswing.

I’ve seen so many people get confused with the takeaway and backswing by trying to move one part of their body then the next then the next. Simply try and get everything functioning well right from the get go..

This is really what a one piece takeaway is –  and it has been taught for a very long time. It’s a feeling that everything is connected during the takeaway and stays connected during the backswing.

The hands have to lead the way as they travel the furthest in the swing. Followed by the arms, which move the shoulders, which move the hips. The idea that there should be very little hip turn in the backswing has never made sense to me. This idea just confuses people. I want you to try and turn your hips. With your right leg straightening a little and your left leg flexing a little during the backswing your hips will easily turn a good 40/50 degrees. Your shoulders will turn around 90 degrees so there is your resistance. Don’t ever try and resist turning your hips that will get you in a whole lot of trouble.

The idea of opening the gate with your hips allows you to easily move your hands in the correct direction in the takeaway. What we want to do then is to allow the club to lag and load in your hands at the top of the swing and maintain that lag as your hands and arms move back down in front of your hips before you close the gate into your follow through.

Ben Hogan ‘opening the gate’ and then making sure his hands and arms return back in front of his hips before ‘closing the gate’

Many good players suffer from this sequencing issue and inevitably get their arms and hands in a trapped position coming down into impact. This is where the hips have fired and turned through too soon leaving the hands and arms too far behind playing catch up. From this position the hands have to make a compensatory movement and will probably lead to a slightly flipped or bent left wrist position at impact instead of flat left wrist position at impact.


Practice mini backswings where your hands don’t come any higher than your hips. If you’ve rotated your hips (opened the gate) during your takeaway, your job then is to get your hands and arms back in front of your hips before you turn your hips through (close the gate).

A great exercise to build your awareness is to place an alignment rod or a piece of doweling through your belt loops when you swing. if your hips turn too soon coming down (closing the gate too quickly) your right arm will get caught against the rod. The idea is to get your right elbow back down in front of the rod before turning through and closing the gate. This way you’ll be in the best position to attack the ball and be able to achieve a flat left wrist and a bent right wrist through impact which is essential to good ball striking. This isn’t to say the hips don’t turn coming down they do, they are pulling the torso and arms down and through. It just means that your arms and hands should be traveling a lot faster that your hips to get back in front of them.

Have a question? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment below