The X-Factor is a topic that’s discussed a lot in golf. There are different opinions if the relationship between shoulders, hips and spine (that was originally described by Jim McLean) can actually be characterized by a single factor – the X-Factor.
In my opinion a bio mechanical correct description isn’t really necessary for the average golfer.
It’s more important if these kind of concepts can actually help to develop a better swing by describing easy and replicable motions.
The Misunderstanding of the X-Factor in Golf
Many golfers think of their upper body as a compact unit and forget that it actually consists of many different layers formed by the vertebrae of the spine.
These different layers allow the golfer to turn his upper and lower body in different planes. One of the most fatal swing flaws is turning the shoulders during the downswing on the same plane the hips are turning.
Turning the hips actively early during the downswing gets the shoulders out of their designated plane most of the time.
This usually results in a shoulder turn that’s too shallow pushing the arms and the club out of their plane forcing the club head on a path that travels from out to in (left of the target). The result usually is a slice or a pull.
With a proper back swing the shoulders turn more than the hips and rotate on a different plane.
The hips should turn on a shallow plane compared to the steeper plane of the shoulders.
The steeper plane of the shoulders is a result of the tilting of the upper body at address.
You should feel your hips turning at the beginning of your downswing without letting your shoulders going along with them.
This won’t be possible physically 100 percent but trying to do so helps to do the right motion.
Doing so ensures that your hips and your shoulders stay on their own planes.
An Easy Drill to Work on Your X-Factor
Get into your address position without a club and cross your cross your arms in front of you so your left hand is on your right shoulder and your right hand is on your left.
Now try to turn your hips without moving your shoulders. Pay attention that you don’t tilt or push your hips.
Once you are able to turn your hips independent from your shoulders take a club and try to swing normally remembering the same feeling (shoulders and hips on separate planes).
If your shoulders stay on their own plane you can see the X-Factor in a mirror. You’ll be surprised how accurate and constant your swing can be with the right X-Factor.