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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Swinging With Your Feet

Have you tried swinging with your feet?  In his book, The Natural Golf Swing, the sweet-swinging Canadian, George Knudsen talked about controlling his swing with his feet. It may sound a bit strange, but I have tried swinging with my feet and it actually works.  If you set up correctly with a good grip, you can actually perform a full swing and hit good shots without any manipulation of the hands.  You just shift your weight using your feet and everything flows from there.

Bobby Jones referred to an Englishman who taught the same thing.  Sam Snead, in his book The Education of a Golfer also wrote about the stir he caused and how he incurred the wrath of Gene Sarazen by playing a round at Augusta National in his bare feet.  He shot 68.  This was a huge success with the press, but was highly unpopular with the golf shoe people and some Masters champions like Sarazen who thought the exhibition was not in keeping with the behaviour of a " real master."

It stirred up quite a debate, and Sam wrote:

    "While this debate went on, the barefoot experiment caused me to think more and more about the part the feet play in the full golf swing.  The hands are important because they're the only part of the body attached to the club.  But the feet are still more important, being your only connection with the ground.  Swinging within myself was one of the more difficult acts I had to discipline myself to do.  Like most other golfers, I often fought a losing battle with the urge to overpower my tee and fairway shots, and most of my over-swinging started in my upper body, in the arms, shoulders, and back muscles.  When that happened, I was no longer a 'wheel,' with my head the solid hub around which the arms operated as spokes.  My feet were unable to stay firmly planted, my sense of balance was lost, and I fell out of my swinging groove.  Wildness had to result...
     Experimenting again with shoes off, I found that I naturally cut down until I was using just the right medium of swing, or about 85 or 90 per cent of full power, without thinking twice about it.  The reason was that a man won't overswing if he doesn't have spikes gripping the turf for him.  Barefoot, your nerves are exposed to the ground.  You're able to 'feel' balance, to judge how big a turn and windup is possible without disturbing the leverage of your body.  You get that shade of restraint that counts...
     Watching the best players, I decided that footwork is the basis of hand action--rather than the other way around--and that the pivot called the shot all the way; it was the key to everything I did on the tee. Experts talked about swinging the clubhead, but they put the cart before the horse.  Although a good pivot includes hip, leg, and shoulder movement, it must start and finish with the feet.  When the pros I played against lost their driving touch, in 98 per cent of the cases the fault traced to the one place they didn't consider--their feet.  Even a veteran pro takes them for granted after a while."

So, if you're having trouble over-swinging, or with your rhythm and balance, maybe try kicking off the shoes and making some swings.  I know it was surprising to me to see how my swing changed when I swung using my feet.  I had more of a hip and shoulder turn, the club came fully to the top without any lifting of the arms, or straining, and the club whooshes to the finish under what-seems-to-be its own steam.  Apparently it's actually centrifugal force, but I'm no scientist.  When you use your feet properly, and just let everything flow, you don't interfere with "the force."

If you've looked everywhere and can't seem to find the problem, why not look to your feet.  The answer might just be in your shoes.