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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tommy Armour on the Purpose of Footwork

Today's quotes come from Tommy Armour, the three-time major winner who gained great fame as an instructor. I say "quotes" because I'm picking several bits from a chapter he wrote on footwork.

Tommy Armour

These thoughts come from How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time, from a chapter called Footwork, the Foundation of Best Golf:
What prevents many ever learning correct footwork is the fact that they don't understand its purpose.

The function of correct footwork is to get the body in the right place for the arms and hands to act with maximum precision and power, and with smoothness.

A great deal of confusion in teaching and learning footwork arises from the fact that the subject really is so simple that people just can't readily believe that there isn't a mysterious and complicated trick to it.

So, what generally happens is a complete reversal of logic; the player endeavors to make his body work his feet, instead of having his feet impel and direct the proper body action.
Let me break here for a minute. Armour spends quite a bit of this chapter explaining the mistakes made by a player who "endeavors to make his body work his feet." I won't repeat all that. But bear in mind what you've read so far -- simply put, footwork is so simple that we tend to try too hard. Take the thoughts that follow as simply as you can!

First, he talks about the backswing. Note the boldface print -- I put that in to emphasize his main point.
Your knees are a reliable index to correct footwork. On the backswing, the left knee moves until it is pointing to a point not too far behind the ball. The left knee is moved into this position by raising the left heel and getting a bit of a push from the inside of the sole of the left foot, but although those foot actions are the motivating elements, they are details I seldom mention when I'm teaching as I want to avoid all possible details. I have the pupils consider knee position as the indicator of proper footwork. When the left knee is in the position it should be at the top of the backswing, the footwork has been performed correctly.

There's only one way to have the left foot function in getting the knee into the desired position, so if the pupil thinks of the result he must get, he doesn't need to worry about the details of cause.
Now he talks about the downswing. He thinks instructions like opening your hips to face the target are counter-productive.
When the right knee comes in toward the direction you're hitting, your right heel comes off the ground, and you're pushing the body around into perfect position for hitting. Your left side is bound to straighten up as your left knee straightens.

But, if you keep your right heel on the ground, it is physically impossible to get your right knee to play its proper part in the swing. Therefore, your entire right side -- the right shoulder and the right hip -- can't get into position for hitting.

The knee action in a good golf swing is practically identical with knee action in throwing a baseball.

The side that delivers the power -- the right side -- is put into position to deliver by correct footwork, and only by correct footwork can this position be attained.

There's a lot of confusion about how and when to get the left heel on the ground at the start of the downswing, but there needn't be. As the right side springs into action from the right foot up, the left heel will simultaneously go to the ground.

All you have to do is let the right side come into the shot by moving the right knee around toward the ball.
That's a long quote, but the basic idea is clear, don't you think? Let me boil it down to one paragraph.
Point your lead knee behind the ball on your backswing, then point your trailing knee toward the ball on the downswing. Don't try to keep both feet flat on the ground; all you'll do is make it impossible to move your feet correctly. If you just think about where you want your knees to point, you'll move your feet properly.
It doesn't get any simpler than that.

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