Learn the Role of the Back Leg in Your Golf Swing

By John Elliott

Back Leg and the Descending Swing

If you are wondering whether I could not decide whether to play in slacks or in shorts you are wrong. What I wanted to do is show you what the back leg does in the golf swing. This is a very misunderstood part of the body and yet it has a tremendous influence on being able to hit the ball with a descending blow, in other words taking the divot in front. B, not falling back when you hit it. C, getting all the way through the shot.

From the Knee Down

Let's take a look at from the knee down and see what the back foot and leg does through impact. Here we are at address and we are beginning to come into the ball. Watch.

  1. The right knee begins moving inward as does the right calf.
  2. As that occurs the right ankle begins rolling to the inside. You can see the entire outside of my shoe beginning to come off the ground.
  3. Now watch, inward knee, inward calf, inward ankle and once the hips have turned about 45 degrees the right heel begins coming up and in conclusion the right heel and foot turn out.
  4. You end up finishing with a vertical right shoe, that is ideal.

What Not to Do

What I see all the time looks like this. The foot that was the most active was the front one. But through the ball the foot that is supposed to be the most active is the back one because upon the conclusion of the swing the right leg catches up to the left. If you look here there is quite a gap between my two legs, but when we finish the swing and we are now over there the two thighs finish perpendicular to the original line of play. From this view my right leg has totally caught my left leg. When you look at it from this view you can see that my right knee is looking parallel to my target line, so does my right shoe. When you finish if you find your back leg looking towards where the ball was you have not done a very good job getting off that back leg.

Summary

Remember, the back foot and leg do three things. The ankle rolls in, the heel lifts up and then the foot turns out. Upon the conclusion you should be able to put the shaft of your club across your two thighs and this line should be perpendicular to the original target line. Now you are getting through the ball. If you want to get through the ball better, if you want to hit the ball longer, and when you hit a ball you want to hear this sound, look at my leg, that was a partial swing and you only saw a partial leg motion. Had I gone to a full swing you would have seen the foot and leg finish like this. Very important for control and distance.

About the Instructor