Lessons from the Legends
One move to stop slicing, pulling and topping shots
Photographs by Jensen Larson
As you might expect, I watch way too much video trying to analyze what makes great swings great. One thing I noticed a while back is what’s happening with the lead foot when some of the all-time best start the downswing. Players such as Rory McIlroy, Greg Norman and even Jack Nicklaus let the heel of their front foot move toward the target as they transition from backswing to through-swing. That action of the foot promotes a very strong weight shift to the lead side, and it demands that you start the transition the way you should—from the ground up. For many amateur golfers—perhaps you—the best thing this move does is eliminate the dreaded spinout, where your body rotates hard out of its original address position in the downswing, typically causing you to slice, pull or top your shot. You know if you spun out just by looking at your feet when the ball is gone. They’ll both be facing the target.
Here you see me doing a drill where I place a golf ball next to the heel of my lead foot (above, left). I then swing the club to the top, and as I start down, I try to bump the golf ball toward my target (above, right). The only way to do it is to shift my pelvis forward. If you try it, you will absolutely feel a lateral move of your hips toward your target. It will also move the pelvis in a slight diagonal direction, creating room to properly swing down to the ball from the inside.
I realize for some of you that an attempt to move your lead heel toward the target will feel awkward or difficult to do, and you’ll quickly abandon it for your old swing. I’m asking you to stay patient. Even if you keep (or return) your lead foot in the same position in the downswing that it was at address, you’ll be on your way to hitting more powerful shots. The worst thing you can do is let that heel move away from the target, encouraging the spinout.
Being more aware of the movement of the lead foot when you swing will make you a better ball-striker. —With Ron Kaspriske