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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another Tip from Peter Kostis

I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the people I’m following on Twitter is teacher Peter Kostis, and I shared one of the tips he tweeted. Well, I went back later to see what other tips he may have sent out and found this little jewel, which seemed appropriate as a finish for this series of posts about making a good backswing:
peterkostis Twitter tip #5. Proper hand and arm action eliminates the right shots while proper foot and legwork eliminates the left shots. 1:02 PM Sep 16th from web
Why do I call this a little jewel? Because for me it sums up the whole rationale behind this blog―namely, that the tips you hear the big-name teachers giving on TV are usually tailored to the pros, not the weekend golfer.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a well-known teacher appear on a TV show and tell how the average golfer should focus on making sure their legs and hips drive the downswing. Then they give a drill that they say will help you straighten out your slice by getting the legs to do more work.

Unfortunately, classic swing teachers like Jim Flick or Manuel de la Torre don’t get as much TV time these days because they stress using the hands and arms. In many cases, they’re the teachers a weekend golfer needs most.

Take another look at the tip Peter Kostis tweeted. How does he say you get rid of your slice (right shots)? By using proper hand and arm action. Problems with hooks (left shots) are dealt with by learning proper foot and legwork.

Think about this for a moment and you’ll see the logic here. What generally causes a slice? You leave the face of the club open. Why do you leave it open? Nine times out of ten, you either:
  • slide your hips forward too much, causing you to lean backward and push the ball with an open clubface (banana ball time!);
  • turn your body so fast that your hands don’t have time to square the clubface before it reaches the ball; or
  • turn your body so fast that you fling your hands and arms over the top and make an outside-in swing.
All of these are the result of overusing your legs. Certainly, the legs have to work properly when you swing, but they generally don’t need to be worked as hard as we try to work them. Most weekend golfers need to learn how to use their hands and arms better, and just let their hips and legs move naturally in support of that move.

Some of you with big slices do need to learn how to use your legs. I know, because I had to learn the proper way to use mine during a swing; it was a major part of my problem. But it wasn’t a matter of using my legs too much; rather, I wasn’t using them at all! I was standing too straight (not enough knee flex) and I tended to spin my body and hips rather than turn them. No matter what you may think, spinning your body is not the same thing as using your legs!

That all changed when Carl taught me how to coil on the backswing; in fact, Carl never once told me that I needed to drive my legs! He got me to set up with more knee flex, then taught me to coil and suggested I try moving my legs as little as possible. That sounds a little silly until you realize that with a proper coil, it’s almost impossible not to use your legs properly.

That’s why I’ve spent so many posts trying to help you learn how to coil. For most weekend players, the key to proper leg action is a proper coil.

And those same weekend players can straighten out their slices by using their arms and hands better, and then just letting their legs move naturally as a result of their coil. Again, that’s one of the major concepts behind this blog: A low-maintenance swing allows a lot of things to happen naturally.

Whether you find yourself fighting a persistent slice or a hook, remember this Peter Kostis tip. It will help you identify the source of the problem more quickly. That way, you won’t waste your time trying to fix something that ain’t broke!


  1. This is very interesting analysis Mike.
    I am intrigued by this point: "For most weekend players, the key to proper leg action is a proper coil."
    While I understand that proper coil and set-up lead to the proper leg action, I'm curious as to what this leg action should be (i.e. what does it look like?).
    I really enjoyed the posts on "coiling" - especially the one with the popsicle sticks that explained shoulder turn.
    I've read every golf book and magazine in the world I think, and I've never really understood it until now - so thank you!
    My swing looks better than ever thanks to employing these thoughts and actions - I am still struggling with a few points (seperation of back arm from body on start of down swing, too-much or too-early foot action on down swing, and a chicken-wing follow through - I have pictures of this horror, but will spare you from it!).

    Thanks as always!
    Brian in frigid Ottawa, Canada

  2. I'm glad the posts helped, Brian. It's always a little difficult to be sure what causes a given problem when you can't see the swing!

    As far as the leg action goes... let me take a couple of days to see what kind of understandable description I can come up with. A good image is often more useful than a lot of words, which is why I try to use common movements (like using a flyswatter) to explain them.

    I'll see what I can come up with for the other things you mentioned as well. I can say that foot action is tied to leg action; if you do one properly, the other should take care of itself.

    Give me a few days. I'll put the term "leg action" in the leg action post.

    And again, thanks for the kind words.