Feet in the Golf Swing
Not much is said about footwork in golf. I think the feet are overlooked because in other sports you are always moving around and in golf you are standing in one place. Since the feet provide the base for your swing I think it’s an important place to start working on your swing, kind of like taking a “from the ground up” approach.
I don’t want to beat this to death, but we’ve talked about how important alignment is in golf. Your feet have to be running parallel to your target line but there is one little caveat here. After lining your feet up, I like to open my left foot just a little bit. This makes it easier to transfer my weight on the downswing and enables me to get through the ball easier. But, it’s important to line up first then open your toe a little bit.
The most important role of the feet during the swing is to keep yourself balanced and stabilized. You have to be able to transfer your weight to your back foot and then your front in order to generate power and clean contact.
For balance you need to have your feet about shoulder width apart. If you are hitting a short iron or wedge shot, I bring my feet slightly closer together since I will not be swinging real hard. When you hit long irons or any kind of wood it’s important to spread your feet just past shoulder width. The longer arc and the bigger swings you take with these clubs requires a little more stability.
Your weight should be evenly balanced during your setup, with 50% on the left and 50% on the right. Don’t sit on your heels or get up on your toes, but make sure you are standing on the balls of your feet.
As you start your backswing a moderate amount of transfer occurs so that around 70% of your weight is on the back foot and 30% of your weight is on the front. Make sure you don’t roll your back foot at all. You want the weight to stay towards the inside of your foot like you are getting ready to push off towards the target.
Some older golfers use to bring their front heel off of the ground during the backswing, but keeping your weight on the balls of your feet increases stability. If you need to bring your heel up for tempo’s sake or have been swinging that way for years, it’s not a fatal flaw but any beginner should work on keeping that heel planted.
As you start your downswing your weight should start to transfer with your back foot driving towards your target. If your front foot is slightly open it will be easier for your hips to do a complete turn and face the target. As you follow through your weight should almost be entirely on your front foot with your back heel up in the air and only your toes on the ground.
A great tool to make sure you stay balanced during the swing is the Balanced Golfer Board. This will really help you master your center of gravity and eliminate excess movement with your footwork.