How a move employed by the likes of Hogan, Snead and Nicklaus in their pomp can help you create more swing speed, promote a draw and even eliminate back pain
By Alex Riggs
Why the waistcoat I hear you ask? Rest assured it’s not my normal on-course attire but in an effort to prove not all old-school methods are out of date, I dug it out of my wardrobe as a prop for this swing tip.
The “modern swing” taught today has a great focus on players remaining “stable” at the top of the backswing but many players have taken this a step too far it, especially those with limited hip and ankle mobility.
There’s a reason the likes of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus, as the insert photo from the range at Turnberry ahead of the final round of the 1977 Open Championship so beautifully captures, allowed the left heel to leave the ground at the top of the backswing.
The move helps create good movement through the lower body which, as mentioned, is very challenging for many. Let me explain.
Most golfers are physically tight within their hip and ankle mobility. In an effort to stay “stable”, golfers typically do not allow for movement of the knees in the backswing and therefore attempt to “turn” using their upper half. For most amateurs, this leads to a poor rotation, swaying off the ball and unfortunately for some, back pain.
It is important to understanding that “stable” does not mean “frozen” or “stiff”. As athletes, we must be free to move if we want to create speed, establish control and avoid injury. In order to rotate effectively, we must allow for movement of the knees in the backswing.
In short, the lead knee (left for a right-hand golfer) will flex, the trail knee will extend and this motion will allow the pelvis to pivot on a tilt. With longer swings, this knee movement will be done even more efficiently if we allow for the lead heel to come off the ground.
Lifting the heel off the ground helps the knees to move freely and assists in creating a healthy pressure shift into the trail foot. Having this freedom unlocks the body’s potential for rotation which is a massive help with speed while also playing a role with shallowing the club in the downswing.
If the lead heel is off the ground at the top of the backswing, you will feel as if you have loaded into the trail foot with a big turn. For the vast majority, allowing the lead heel to lift will give you way more turn than you’ve ever felt before. It also acts as a nice trigger to start the downswing once you press it back to the ground to start the swing through to the target.
Test it out on the range first before taking it to the course. It should increase speed, make hitting draws easier and reduce, if not completely eliminate back pain. Best of all, you don’t need a waistcoat to make it work for you. – with Kent Gray.
Alex Riggs is a Canadian born golf coach who specialises in finding simple and effective strategies to lower scores. He is a Brand Ambassador for PXG and Under Armour. For lesson inquiries, contact Alex via [email protected] or +971 55 497 7913