For the purpose of this article I shall use the reference of a golfer playing right handed so their trail foot will be the right foot position. So let’s start with the question – how should the right foot be positioned in the golfer’s address position?
Some people say it should be aligned at a right angle to the target line, while others maintain it can be, or even should be, flared out to varying degrees.
In Ben Hogan’s book “Five Lessons; The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” he writes
“There is one correct basic stance: The right foot is at a right angle to the line of flight… By standing with his right foot pointed out, for example, a player definitely makes it much harder for himself to bring the club swiftly and smoothly into the ball and through it.”
I have heard some people suggest that the flared or turned out is the best position for the swing. So who’s right! The words right and wrong may not applicable, and maybe we should use the word preference when talking about these sorts of issues.
The advantage of a flared or turned out right foot comes when you have golfers who have tight right hip joints, or general lack of rotational flexibility. This may lead to an easier move in the backswing however this will not necessarily generate more power but will probably have more effect on timing and sequencing. The actual tightness should really be improved in some correct physical exercises, and in some cases prolonged in action can lead to serious hip problems later in life.
Having the right foot at right angles is my own preference as a coach as an ideal. I suppose I am looking at this from a biomechanical point of view. Biomechanics is the science concerned with the internal and external forces acting on the human body and the effects produced by these forces. The key to the issue lies in the fact that the feet are the foundation of the swing. They are the first link in the chain that must conduct a series of muscular actions resulting in the loading and unloading of the body during the swing. With this in mind the right foot can play an important function. One of the keys to the right foot positioning is the configuration of the arch of the foot – the long arch along the inside of the foot. If the foot is pointing at right angles to the target line, the foot is in its biomechanical strongest position, ready to provide a great foundation for the swing.
If you flare your right foot out to the right, the arch lengthens and the inner edge if the foot collapses toward the ground. This is a biomechanical weak position – the arch (and therefore the foot) is no longer providing a great foundation.
You can try this yourself with a “vertical jump test” and do this with no shoes on. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your feet pointing straight ahead. Now jump straight up in the air. Next, flare your feet out to the sides at, say, a 25-degree angle. Now jump up again. Notice a difference!
Have a look at your trail foot in your set up and see how it stacks up with Ben Hogan.
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.