In the early part of Jack Nicklaus’s career his backswing was a very full big turn and he had quite a prominent left heel lift. He said the way he started his downswing was triggered by the putting of the heel back onto the ground. Although later in his career he reduced the length of his swing and stopped lifting the left heel in his backswing, he maintained he still had the same feeling of starting the downswing from his left foot.
One of the key aspects to an efficient downswing sequence (kinematic chain) of movements is to try and develop the actions starting from the ground upwards. This is going to give us the best chance of creating power. It also is something that really helps if you slice the ball.
Although I would not generally advocate lifting your left heel on purpose with your normal golf course swing, it can be used on the range as a very effective drill to get you the feeling of starting the downswing in a way that begins the sequence the way we want it.
Use a medium iron and maybe try a few practice swings first. Make your backswing and at the very top of the swing just lift your left heel up (for a right handed golfer) and then start the movement down with a pressing down of the heel forcefully into the ground. Also become aware of the weight movement and how it should transfer to whole of the left foot first and then how the weight moves through to left heel area during the rotation of the follow-through. Once you have got the co-ordination and correct sensation in the practice swings try and hit some balls.
After you have mastered this feeling with the exaggerated left heel lift, try again without the lift but at the same time notice how your downswing starts through your feet and how the weight distribution changes at the swing transition of up to downswing.
Fellow PGA Professional
Appointments with Paul for golf lessons in Wicklow can be booked via Powerscourt Golf Club Reception: Tel (01) 204 6033 or the Golf Shop Tel (01) 204 6031. Read more about lessons from Paul Thompson by visiting the Powerscourt Golf Club Website.