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Tom Watson's guide to good footwork

By Tom Watson Photos by J.D. Cuban
December 02, 2015

Whenever I evaluate a golfer's ability, I first check for a proper grip and a balanced, athletic setup. Then I watch the footwork, which ultimately determines how efficiently the player creates clubhead speed.

Proper footwork is a necessity for consistency and power, and there's a sequence you should strive for. Start with your center of gravity directly between the balls of your feet. Then as you take the club back, let your weight transfer slightly to the inside of your right foot and eventually toward the heel.

As you start the downswing, plant your left heel firmly to initiate the forward rotation of your hips. Replanting the left heel is an important lesson that my teacher, Stan Thirsk, taught me when I was growing up. It allows you to accelerate your swing and release the club powerfully through impact.

If your footwork is good, you'll be able to finish the swing in a posed position. Look for almost all of your weight on your front foot, with your back foot used only as a counterbalance.

If you want to hit it longer, copy the power moves in other sports. Whether it's hitting a baseball, playing a forehand in tennis, throwing a pass or even kicking a soccer ball, you shift and turn your lower body—feet in particular—toward the intended target. You plant the lead foot, turn the hips and then go with the upper body or leg. That's an athletic move. Golf is the same.

Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Playing Editor.