How a good leg action can help you drive further

Published 01/11/2010 07:32:00

Powerful leg action is often associated with the game's big hitters, so in your search for more distance, it would be natural to ask, "Am I using my legs enough?" Be careful: That question has dangerous implications. It's better to ask, "Am I using my legs properly?" Since the legs don't generate clubhead speed and distance, they only indirectly allow you to swing with your greatest power-if used properly.


Dispelling The Myth

Ever notice how the players who get credit for a powerful leg drive always have strong-looking legs? Take Jack Nicklaus; observers have talked about his leg action for 40 years. But what does Nicklaus say about it? In the Nicklaus/Flick Master Golf Manual, a collaboration between Nicklaus and GOLF Magazine Master Teaching Professional Jim Flick, the golfer is encouraged to "sense that the feet, legs, and torso are supporting and encouraging the free-falling and swinging of the arms."


Can it be that Nicklaus, with one of the most powerful leg drives in golf, doesn't focus on driving the legs? Nicklaus and Flick see the legs as a support system for the swinging of the arms, which is the central motor of the swing. So before you put a lot of effort into creating more leg drive, remember that overdoing it will take away from the swinging of the arms. In that case, the legs aren't doing their job, and you'll probably lose power.


Legs As Support

How can the legs best support the swinging of the arms? By following a few fundamentals. First, establish a stable base at address, with the feet about shoulder-width apart and the knees slightly flexed. Second, allow the legs to move only in response to the motion of the arms and club on the takeaway. The back leg serves as an anchor so the arms can swing to the top and the torso can turn against resistance, creating power.


On the downswing, as Nicklaus and Flick say, the feet, legs, and torso (in that order) are supporting the swinging of the arms. This means that the feet initiate the transfer of weight from the right side to the left. The legs follow the feet, and the torso follows the legs. By initiating the downswing in that order, the arms can swing the club as freely as possible, which means maximum distance. If the downswing is out of sequence-say the hips initiate instead of the feet-the arms have to fight to get the club into the proper position at impact, which costs yardage.


The Squat Position

Look at any good player's legs when the club is halfway down in the forward swing: Both knees are flexed, the right leg is in nearly the same position it was at the top of the swing, and the left leg seems to have made a lateral move toward the target. It looks as if the player is squatting slightly, creating room for the arms to swing through the ball. This is the best evidence of the legs' role as a support system.


So when you strive for better leg action, strive for the squat position. As the clubhead speeds up on the downswing, let the legs separate slightly to support the swinging of the arms. Then you'll be making the most of your power.


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