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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bob Grissett on Straightening Your Trail Knee

There's a fairly long article over at about whether you should straighten your trail knee during your backswing or not. As you can see from the photos below, both Palmer and Nicklaus did it.

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus at top of backswing

In fact, the article shows photos of 14 different players who won 44 majors making this very move -- including not only Palmer and Nicklaus but also Snead, Player, Hogan, Trevino and Watson among their number. So why have we been taught to keep flex in both knees during our backswing when so many of the greats have not?

Instructor Bob Grissett says it's because we erroneously believed a theory that said hip turn should be restricted during the backswing. He says it is the single most damaging idea in golf instruction ever.

One reason I'm pointing this out is because he says this is a major cause for back problems in the golf swing. He writes:
An article published in February 2019 by Michelle Roberts, health editor for BBC News online, warns of how this restricted type of golf swing could play havoc with your back and put extra strain on your spine, according to U.S. doctors at the Barrow Neurological Institute.
Dr Walker [from Barrow] said: “We believe Tiger Woods’s experience with spinal disease highlights a real and under-recognized issue among modern era golfers. Tiger was using the mechanics of the modern day swing and that places a tremendous amount of strain on the back. It’s still a theory but we are starting to see the late stages of this in some of our patients. We are seeing younger and younger elite level golfers with degeneration in their lower back.”
He said any golfer, elite or not, who experienced pain should seek expert help.
The right knee extending and the left leg flexing forward on the backswing gives the hips freedom to turn by creating “hip slants.” Another benefit of the back-leg extending is that it helps you maintain your inclination toward the ball established at address.
For those of you interested in reading the entire article, here's the link to it at It has many illustrations to make the explanations clearer.

But the point of this post is that if you want to avoid back pain, you should start by allowing your hips to turn freely in your backswing. I learned long ago that just turning your trail foot outward rather than keeping it perpendicular to your toe line allows you to turn your hips more and it takes a lot of stress off your back. That's something that many instructors have recommended to older players for a long time.

Ironically, it also tends to encourage a straightening of your trail knee as your hips turn. Who knew?

Well, now you do. Live and learn!

1 comment:

  1. Good idea to write on this topic.
    Avoid back problems.
    Palmer, Nicklaus and Sam Snead did it too !