Learn something new everyday! Today, I ran across a video that showed many of the classic old school golfers lifting their left heel on their backswing. As they took the club back the left heel would come off the ground as the knee bent. It got me thinking…why do most golfers today keep the left heel DOWN? Even baseball players step with their lead foot or lift it off the ground for power. I feel it is the key to a better golf swing but why this big change?
Most would tell you it has to do with getting rid of variables or limiting moving parts. Golfers today can generate so much power already that raising the heel is just one more part to move. Personally, I think the answer may be as simple as that they don’t NEED to do it because they are so much more flexible and athletic than players from the early years. Well, I am one of those old school players who is NOT very flexible so I need every advantage I can to get a better shoulder turn.
So I tried it and guess what….It changed my swing.
Aha Moment #2
“Lift your left heel off the ground on the backswing”
The Shoulder Turn
By lifting my left heel off the ground on the backswing, I was able to turn my shoulders more. It just felt much more natural. With my already closed stance, I felt I could get closer to the 90˚ that many golfers are able to achieve creating more of that X-Factor that Jim McLean talks about. My wife who knows nothing about golf could tell the difference before heel lift and after (though I got a weird look as I was posing in the two positions for her). In addition, with this greater shoulder turn I was able to get more torque and power in my swing. I was hitting my 7 iron 10-20 yards farther than before.
Inside Out Swing Path
If I am going to break 80 I am going to need a better golf swing that is more consistent. The left heel trick gives me that consistency in my swing path. I was able to get the club back consistently inside because of the huge shoulder turn. My swing path felt better and I seemed to get a more figure 8 path on the downswing. Getting an inside out path has been a real struggle until I began lifting my left heel.
Arguably the most important impact of lifting the left heel is that it gave me a trigger to start my downswing. This is where I think I can improve my swing the most. I need to be able to start my downswing with my lower body. The left heel is what I can use to start the downswing by beginning to put it down BEFORE the club is at the top of my swing. This move will help me sequence my swing and thus giving me more lag and more power.
The last benefit of lifting the left heel is that by putting it back down I create a force to push against. It is said that you need to use the ground to push-off of in order to create power. I believe this one reason why baseball players step. The power comes from pushing and straightening the front foot. By actually stepping I get can create more force off the ground. One of my favorite drills is the step drill to simulate this momentum.
The Key To A Better Golf Swing???
As an average golfer, with limited flexibility and strength, I need ways to gain power and momentum. Lifting the heel has so far improved my shoulder turn, swing path and downswing and helped build my confidence. I am looking for more length off the tee and lifting the left heel may just be one of the keys I need to develop a better golf swing.