Have you ever stopped to consider the role of the target-side foot? No? Me neither; at least, not until recently.
Here’s a shot of a typical finish position:
Notice how that target-side foot is virtually perpendicular to the golfer. Now have a look at this:
Look at how Bubba Watson’s target-side foot is pointing towards the target. It’s a complete bastardization of all that is holy with the golf swing…
Not really. How many times have we been over this? There’s what some experts consider “ideal”, then there’s what’s “ideal” for everyone individually. As Jack Nicklaus once stated, “golf is a game of motion, not positions.”
The reality is, not all of us can finish our golf swings in that so-called “perfect” position. We lack flexibility, or we’re dealing with a temporary or permanent injury. S#it happens. The position of the foot is pretty irrelevant, honestly.
Go back and look at the two pictures again. Do you see something that’s almost exactly the same with each golfer? Here’s a hint: it isn’t their belts, but in that general area.
It’s the hips. Notice how open Bubba and Lorena’s hips are through the ball? If you want to copy a position, this would be a good one to copy, or at least get close to it.
That’s where many of us amateurs go wrong. We slide our hips towards the target. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; in an appearance on School of Golf (Chapter 35: “Stick It Close”), CEO and Founder of Golf Biomechanics Dr. Rob Neal notes that players need to slide their weight some to the target. We have to shift our weight, right?
Well, the part we’re getting wrong is that we’re sliding, but not opening our hips. According to Dr. Neal, 80% of the natural sway (for Tour pros, it’s almost 5″ of lateral movement!) occurs during the first half of the downswing. The remaining 20% is the hip rotation. We need to make sure we’re opening our hips!
You can tell if you aren’t opening your hips correctly. For me, I’ve discovered that when I incorrectly move to the finish position, my weight shifts to the outside of my target-side foot. Not on the heel, not the bottom of my foot… the outside. It’s uncomfortable and causes balance issues- not to mention poor results.
That’s where the target-side foot comes into play. If we’re not flexible enough, or it’s uncomfortable- or worse, it’s painful- to keep that target-side foot planted when we work to open our hips, don’t keep it that way. Allow the foot to spin out, as Bubba does. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as it works.