The hips play a huge role in the golf swing, generating power and turning the whole body through the swing, transferring the bodyweight through the shot. Incorrect alignment of the hips can lead to many inconsistencies in the swing and cause off line shots as well as poor striking of the ball as the lower body will not work properly and end up being dominated by the shoulders.
When setting up to the golf ball, the hips should be parallel to the line of the target, on the same line as the feet, knees and shoulders. This may seem fairly simple to achieve at set up but that is not necessarily the case. At set up, we hold a golf club with one hand lower than the other. For a right handed golfer, the right hand is lower than the left hand. Therefore, the right shoulder also tilts slightly lower than the left shoulder. This is vice versa for a left handed golfer. With the body slightly tilted backwards, it can sometimes be difficult to feel and check whether or not the shoulders, hips, knees and feet are all in line together.
If the hips are open to the left for a right handed golfer at set up, there will be a tendency to turn incorrectly and not rotate backwards enough in the backswing, losing power and balance and promoting a sway, where the hips moves sideways out over the back foot. This is extremely undesirable as this movement puts huge pressure on the lower back as it is forced to curve into a C shape, and can create back problems. This also halts the turn in the shoulders, which loses power in the shot due to less backswing coil.
Finally, the direction of the shot can also be affected as the hips are likely to open up too soon in the downswing, promoting a slicing shot to the right as the club slides across the ball at impact, instead of driving straight through it to the target.
If the hips are closed to the right for a right handed golfer at set up, the tendency can be to take the club away on the inside, very close and low to the body. This action encourages just the arms and hands to power the golf club, rather than the big muscles, and therefore, can result in a loss of power. Additionally, with the golf club swinging so close and circularly around the body, the hands and arms can get overactive and we may find the club face excessively turning at impact, producing a low, hooking shot.
To help align the hips with the rest of the body, take a set of tour sticks and place one of them on the ground, parallel to the target line, to give a guideline of where the correct aim to the target should be. Then take the second tour stick and place it through the belt loops on the front of your trousers. Doing this vividly shows the line that the hips point on, so that when you set up to the golf ball, it is easy to see whether the hips are correctly in line with the rest of the body. Also, the hip line should match up perfectly with the first tour stick, which points parallel to the target.
This is a simple and easy checkpoint to get aligned correctly to the target, with the whole body, to increase the chances of hitting better and straighter shots.