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The X-Factor

How does DJ hit the ball so darn far?!

Ever heard of the “X-Factor?” Noted golf instructor to the PGA and LPGA Tours, Jim McClean popularized the term with his article for Golf Digest titled, “Increase your X-Factor for more distance!” Lo these 23 years later, it is the most recognizable concept in golf instruction since Ben Hogan’s book, “Five lessons”, in 1957. What is the X-Factor and how does Dustin Johnson utilize it to hit the ball a couple hundred feet shy of a quarter mile?

McClean, swing theorist and researcher, uncovered the most notable distinction between the longest and shortest hitters on tour. In measuring the difference between the rotation of the hips versus the rotation of the shoulders, he coined the term, X-Factor. For instance, DJ rotates his shoulders approximately 125 degrees and his hip turn barely 45 degrees--thus, his X-Factor is a whopping 80 degrees! (See pic 1) Simply put, the greater the X-Factor the more power you can generate. For comparison, the average 15-25 handicapper is in the range of 80 degree shoulder and 50 degree hip turn for an average 30 degree X-Factor (keep in mind the average golfer actually has to work for a living—thus, the 50 degree differential).

This is exactly why we created FOREFITNESS Golf Performance. I experience daily from a teaching standpoint that you can only go so far with swing instruction. The players ultimate weapon—their body—must then be addressed. Let’s face it; the average workday for most is spent sitting down, sometimes for as much as eight hours. Then, they sit in their car for the drive home, home to the couch and topping off the evening sitting in front of the computer for a couple hours. Fast twitch muscle fibers are not routinely engaged, your thoracic spine (middle of the back) is not stretched out and scapula mobility is limited. Dustin Johnson does all three in spades!

At the top of his swing, look at his TSE (thoracic spine extension)—world class flexibility from the middle of his back to the top of his spine! Look at his scapula mobility (See pic 2)—the right shoulder is pulled back away from and behind his neck. His athleticism and workout regimen put Johnson at the far end of the flexibility scale. Our job at Fore Fitness is to move you closer to that ideal by igniting your body’s fast twitch muscle fibers, unlocking your TSE, freeing up your scapula and SO MUCH MORE!

The Team at FOREFITNESS Golf Performance can’t wait to take your body and your game to the next level! See what we can do for you at FOREFITNESSWhere Golfers Train!

Next month I’ll address the X-Factor in the downswing and how you can increase your drives by up to 25 yards—the FOREFITNESS way!

Article Posted 3.25.15

How Do They Hit It So Far?!

X-Factor in the downswing

Last month we looked at the X-Factor advantage and how it translates into stored energy in the backswing. Remember, the X-Factor as coined by world renowned golf instructor, Jim McLean, is the differential of the degree of shoulder turn vs. the rotation of the hips in the backswing. The greater the difference, the greater the X-Factor. We also noted Dustin Johnson’s incredible TSE (Thoracic Spine Extension) and his scapula mobility. Big words that simply mean, “The guy’s a stud!”

                      Dustin Johnson

                      Dustin Johnson


This month we are looking at the release of that stored energy that starts the downswing called the X-Factor Stretch. What is the number one move that every tour player does that initiates the downswing? It is the firing of the lower body—a separation of the lower body from the upper body in terms of sequencing—it’s what moves first that matters.

If you take a look at world number one and one of the tour’s longest hitters, Rory McIlroy, you’ll notice that he begins his lower body turn before he completes his backswing. You see this phenomena in every explosive action in sport—the tennis serve, baseball swing, pitcher’s motion, football throw, shot put and javelin. The distinct advantage that a professional athlete has over the weekend golfer is that their bodies have been trained to move competing body parts in their proper sequence. Remember, the average golfer has to work for a living spending the majority of their day behind a desk. That pesky thing called ‘work’ does little to prepare the weekend warrior’s body for the most explosive action in sport!

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

EXPLOSIVITY (I just made that word up but it sounds cool doesn’t it?) is the ability to store energy away from your target and then release that energy in the proper sequence with maximum force and speed. To do that you must have dynamic flexibility in your thoracic spine, strong hips, supple wrists and a quick change of direction.

J.B. Holmes

J.B. Holmes

Look at the impact positions of four of the longest hitters on tour (see pics). Shoulders are 10 degrees open to the target line and hips are 45-65 degrees open to target—so we have an X-Factor Stretch of 35-55 degrees. When I instruct my students, the proper sequencing which produces the X-Stretch cannot happen without the BODY having STABILITY, FLEXIBILITY and STRENGTH in all the right places.

                                                Bubba Watson

                                                Bubba Watson

At FORE FITNESS we’ll show you the five main exercises to stretch your “X” so you can explode your hips through impact like DJ--Well, ok, almost like DJ! See what we can do for your body and your game at FORE FITNESSWhere Golfers Train!

Next month we’ll look at Rory McIlroy’s commitment to his golf-body.


Article Posted 6.6.15 - Written by Mark Spinelli