The left leg. It’s one of the most important legs when it comes to a swing in golf, yet it requires the smallest of movements when it comes to technique. So many golfers out there think there are so many different moving parts to a swing, and yes, it’s true, the arms, the shoulders and the hips move quite a bit in the perfect swing. But the lower body is a different story, particularly the left leg.
Think of it as a fight of force. Your upper body and hips twist back with the club, sometimes very quickly, but that left leg resists going back and fights to stay in place. That battle of force between the two is what adds to a lot of the power at impact, as is the right leg, which should also stay in place but drive forward on the downswing. The right leg should finally twist and face the hole in the follow through.
Tiger Woods’ swing sequence below exemplifies this; it breaks it down from the start of his swing to the end. All body parts seem to change position, but there’s one part of the body that doesn’t really move in any frame: The left leg.
In the first frame, Tiger’s body is twisting back, but he’s keeping that left leg in place, adding a lot of pressure and torque on it as he begins to come forward in frame 2. Tiger, like many golfers, keeps the leg still but also keeps it bent through the back swing before straightening it out at impact, which he does in frame 3, and keeps it straight all the way through the follow through.
Here’s another example below of Dustin Johnson. A completely different swing than that of Tiger’s, but similar mechanics with his left leg and lower body. Johnson keeps the left leg in place as the rest of his body goes back, adding pressure on it as he comes forward and straightens it out at impact and through the rest of his swing. He uses the right leg as a driving force coming forward with his upper body. Johnson uses his right leg for power more than most golfers. Remember that while equipment such as golf shafts, heads and grips can help your swing that the biggest factor is your form.
I can also add hundreds of other PGA Tour golfers swing compilations on here and it’s going to look very similar when it comes to the left leg. It simply doesn’t go back with the rest of the swing. Justin Rose, below, the number one golfer in the world, keeps it possibly the most still of anyone; however, you can see the bend in it as it goes back and the straightening out of the leg as it approaches impact. You also see how the right leg twists and faces the hole after impact while the left leg stays pointed at the camera.
Most beginner golfers believe the legs are an essential part to the swing and it needs to swing back with the arms, but only the hips and waist should rotate back with the arms and shoulders. The right knee should twist slightly back, but resist a full turn. The left arm, which is another topic for another day, should stay completely straight through impact.
Remember, as you are practicing that you don’t want to be a Frankenstein monster. There’s the temptation probably now from reading this to just keep your lower body completely still, but you do need bend, you do need torque and you do need pressure on that front leg and it should straighten at impact. You need to have power in the legs as you come forward and that right leg does need to turn through impact. The clubhead needs to make the swing smoothly.
Also, focus on keeping your head still. The head and the neck should stay focused on the ball the whole way completely through the swing and not move the slightest. As the upper body goes back, the head stays down on the ball.
So it’s time to practice. As you stand on the range, focus on doing the following:
- Take out a driver and tee your ball up.
- Start off with a very light swing, hitting it at 25% intensity tops
- Keep your left leg completely still and bent on the back swing. Also, try and focus on keeping your left arm straight the whole way back.
- Keep your right leg still, twisting the knee just 45 degrees.
- As you rotate the club back, rotate your hips back but keep your head straight down.
- As you start to come down, feel the right side of your body come forward while keeping the left leg in place.
- Hit a very light shot, twisting your hips as you follow through and feeling the pressure come to the front leg. Try and straighten the left leg out at impact
- As you follow through, keep the left leg straight the whole way through.
Practice a couple more shots at 25% intensity and then slowly pick it up until you’re hitting it at full strength. Really focus on keeping that left bent and still, straightening it out at impact. The best tip besides practice is to watch the pros swing it on Sunday. Watch their lower body. Watch how it resists the force of going back with the upper body. Then watch as the club impacts the ball and how the power is shifted towards the legs.
Practice makes perfect. There are lots of different mechanics out there to a swing, but we don’t want to make your head spin. First things first. Keep those legs in place…..and practice, practice, practice!