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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some Further Thoughts about Leg Action, Part 1

(PAY ATTENTION, RIGHTHANDERS! Normally I describe things as a righthander, and lefties have to transpose it. But Brian is a lefty and this is his project, so you righties will have to substitute “right” for “left” and vice versa. It will give you an appreciation for what lefties have to go through when they learn the game. But here’s a hint that will help: View any diagrams as if you were looking in a mirror.)

Welcome back for the second season of Project Brian!

Having spent a few days working with the first posts in the Project Brian series, you should have learned a few things just by thinking about what you were doing. Today we’ll focus on those things as they relate to the action of the legs. I’m also experimenting with Brian’s suggestion: Your “front” leg is the one closest to your target, and your “back” leg is the one that’s farthest away. To help you get oriented, think about your “handedness”; for a righthander, your right leg is your back leg, and for a lefthander, your left leg is your back leg.

Many of you aren’t bending your knees enough. I’m sure a lot of you found that your legs were too straight, which interfered with a proper hip turn. You don’t need to do deep knee bends to have good leg action, but you need enough bend to get (and keep!) some flex in the knees throughout the swing.

The front leg pulls you through the swing. However, the wider your stance, the more you might feel the back leg pushing. This is logical, if you think about it for a moment. If your stance is wider, the back leg has to work harder to keep your body stable during the swing. But if you start to focus on pushing with the back leg, you’ll probably start sliding your hips forward rather than rotating them.

The back knee MUST remain flexed throughout the swing. Even when you pull with the front leg, you can find your upper body moving forward enough to throw you off-balance. This is because you're straightening your back leg as you swing. See, your setup position tilts your spine toward the ball, causing the back hip to rotate forward AND DOWN as your front leg pulls you through the shot. If you straighten that back knee on the downswing, you push the back hip upward, which throws your upper body toward the target and prevents you from getting that nice balanced finish everybody likes to have.

This is an important concept that isn’t explained very often. I’ll go into more detail in the next post.


  1. Dear Mike,
    I stumbled upon project brian while looking for a cure for my chicken wing and I must say it clarifies things a lot, especially because i'm a lefty as well! A little anecdote about that: here in Holland we have Golf Magazine. At some point they decided to do some instructions with Phil Mickelson. And what a miracle: suddenly they used terms like front foot, upper hand etc. to describe what you had to do. Unfortunately, it lasted only for one issue...
    Thank you very much for the insights though; I will certainly try them during the coming winter.

    Regards from the Netherlands,

  2. WOW! I have readers in the Netherlands too? I'm always amazed at how many players all over the world read my blog.

    Erwin, over the last year or so I've gotten pretty good at using the terms "lead" and "trailing" consistently instead of right and left so I don't have to write everything twice. Your "lead" side is closest to the target; your "trailing" side is farthest away. To help keep it straight, I just say that all players are "trailing-sided." And I've done it in all of my books except Ruthless Putting, which was written before I started the blog and realized how many lefties play golf.

    I also did a short series with Dexter and his friend Doc, where Doc was dealing with a chicken wing. Here's the link to the last post in that series, which has links to each of the previous posts as well:

    The Hand Position Drill, Part 4

    Pay particular attention to the comments in that post, because they deal directly with a chicken wing question. Maybe that will give you some extra help.