I got some questions about footwork in my last post about the subject. I have called my feet the ‘command center of my swing.’
Here’s a video of Stack and Tilt co-founder, Mike Bennett, excellent foot action.
Before I go on though, it should be noted that like anything with the golf swing, there’s plenty of ways to operate your feet and there’s plenty of cases of great golfers with footwork that is a bit ‘questionable’ to say the least. But this post is in hopes to explain footwork, what I think good footwork looks like and how it can help a golfer’s game.
Let’s first look at footwork as a chain first.
I think it’s safe to say that most golfers, regardless of their knowledge of the golf swing, can understand the importance of how the hips pivot and move in the golf swing. But what most golfers don’t understand is how faulty footwork can actually effect how those hips pivot. And then what happens is that they focus on the hips or they focus on something else like their swing plane and how their arms and hands move, all the while their footwork is the problem.
Another part of the footwork, although this is more to do with the knees, is using the ground to push off with which helps better power the pivot.
This collage by John Erickson (www.advancedballstriking.com) shows golfers getting more knee bend at the halfway point of the downswing than they had at address.
This ‘ground forces’ is something that the S&T guys talk about as well. And for good reason because if you ever watch the Fox Sports show ‘Sports Science’, they discuss ‘ground forces’ being used in every sport. In fact, imagine you were hitting a golf ball off a sheet of ice with sneakers on. Now, would you hit that ball further than you would if you were on grass with cleats on?
Now, there’s obvious balance issues as well here. But, if you can push off ground you can better power your pivot as well. You don’t see baseball hitters swing with locked or straight knees for the same reason, it wouldn’t power their body rotation very well.
The other part that the feet can effect are the spine and the cranium.
For starters, faulty footwork can cause the golfer to have the rear knee ‘kick out’ towards the ball in the backswing. This will get the head moving backwards and create some excessive spine tilt on the downswing. Here’s a Shawn Clement video discussing that (don’t mind the S&T talk, that’s not what this post is about)
The other way it can effect the spine is in the opposite way. If your foot action is flawed, the golfer can ‘spin out’ and get the hips rotating too fast and the golfer doesn’t get enough spine tilt on the downswing and comes over the top.
So, what do I think is good footwork?
I’m personally a fan of keeping the rear foot flat at impact, but Hogan certainly didn’t have that:
So, from a basic level I look at what the hips and knees are doing. Is the rear knee kicking towards the ball? (Moe called the rear knee kicking towards the ball ‘bogey golf’). Are the hips rotating too fast? Are we getting too much or too little axis tilt on the downswing? If not and that’s not a problem, then the footwork is working for that particular golfer.
I also tend to look at the golfer’s power in general. If they don’t have a lot of power, but are very accurate I would probably take a look at their footwork. I think this is probably the big reason for Brian Gay’s lack of power.
Without giving away teaching instructor’s lessons away, let’s take another look at Mike Bennett’s footwork.
Also, take a look at George Knudson’s foot action.
I will say this about the footwork.
Take a look at:
- Their inside ankle bone of their right foot
- Remember that the right knee should have plenty of bend in the downswing
- Try to feel like there is some gripping of the ground with the feet.
- Try to feel like you are pushing the inside arch of the right foot into the inside arch of the left foot
And remember that your right heel should be ‘pulled off’ the ground and not ‘pushed off’ the ground.
What does that mean?
Well, in order to ‘push’ the right heel off the ground, one needs to get the weight up on the toes and push the heel off the ground. We don’t want that.
Instead, we want these two things to ‘pull’ the right heel up off the ground:
1) the momentum of the swing and the pivot
2) The eventual straightening of the lead leg
Remember though, the ‘posting’ up on the straight lead leg at impact is not advisable in my book, unless you want to come over the top and hit slices. Instead, the left knee should be flexed at impact.
But, AFTER impact the leg will become straight and that will get the rear heel up off the ground. Now, the golfers with pretty good footwork who have a rear heel up off the ground, those golfers have a flexed left knee at impact, but it’s just a bit straighter than say a Moe Norman or a Kenny Perry at impact.