Laying the Groundwork

The transfer of body weight backward and frontward during the swing is connected with the movement back and forth of the arms and the turn of the shoulders and the hips. Weight transfer is, also, related to footwork, as well. Nevertheless, if, you’re like most golfers I see at the lesson tee, you probably haven’t given much thought to the role of your feet in this game. Believe me, their importance is fundamental to good golf.

But, let’s get back to the all-important weight shift that takes place in the backswing. Computer analysis indicates that, in good golf swings, nearly 80% of body weight moves to the right side by the time the golfer’s hands have swung back to waist height. Most of this weight shift takes place as the shoulders and hips begin to turn. And, it’s during this sequence that the feet begin to play their active part.

The proper footwork is based on rolling the ankles and heels. Follow this simple drill and, through practice, you can learn the feeling of and attain excellent foot action: On the backswing; roll your left ankle and heel in laterally, while holding or bracing with the inside of your right ankle and heel. On the downswing, push off your right foot by rolling the right ankle and heel inward, while your left ankle and heel rolls back to the left and into a firm bracing position. Note: While the correct movement of the feet enables a golfer to properly turn their hips and complete the weight shift, only a very flexible person can make a full backswing without lifting their left heel off the ground.

Weight shift and footwork are absolutely vital in the downswing, too. In good golf swings, body weight moves to the left side very early in the downswing. That all-important weight shift, and actually, the entire downswing, is started by the rolling and pushing of the right foot. The golf swing works from the ground up! It is not the knees turning, or the hips sliding or the arms swinging. It is the rolling and pushing of the right foot that actually transitions the swing and moves it toward the target.

That early roll and push from the right foot to the left foot is what initially causes the knees and hips and shoulders to go toward the target in a lateral direction. It is what causes the feeling or creates the sensation that you’re moving out toward center field in the downswing. But, almost immediately the hips and shoulders begin to unwind and turn, finishing with the body facing the target and the weight totally over on the left side.

Sam Snead said, “Good players play from the legs up, and great players play from the feet up.” Poor players, of course, hit at the ball – mainly with their shoulders, hands and arms. Make an effort to consider the swing from the ground up, using the support of your feet and legs to generate power.



4 thoughts on “Laying the Groundwork

  1. Hey Pro,

    Great post! At the point of contact, how much of your total body weight has made it to the left side, or is it 50/50 at that point?

    • Thanks, excellent question. Upwards to 80% of your total body weight makes its way back to the left side at the point of contact. The 50/50 weight distribution point arrives in the early stages of the forward swing, when the arms and hands have moved down to waist height.

    • As in any sport – baseball, tennis, football – your feet dominate what you do. Rolling the ankles teaches you two things: (1) to have a soft forward movement while keeping you in-balance on the ground, and (2) to “release” the club, because your right foot stays close to the ground as you swing through impact. These movements are made while maintaining a steady head position.

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