Why Golf Biomechanics/Kinesiology Is Bogus

foley-tigerThis has been bothering me to no end, for quite some time now.

I watched part of the David Leadbetter swing video from the blog posting on his new “A” Swing, and I heard that he’d done tons of work with biomechanics specialists on this swing.

That figures, I thought.

Because golf biomechanics and golf-related kinesiology are so lacking in anything “proper,” it is astounding that most of the world’s biomechanics experts haven’t called out modern golf “biomechanical” work as pure bilge.

Perhaps they’ve fallen into the same trap.  Which is:

Golf Biomechanics Begins With a False Premise

And which premise is that?

The premise, wherever it arose, that the “perfect” golf swing has a planted leading heel on the back swing, combined with twisting the torso against the restricted hips to create the coil at the top.

And so what they are doing, in fact, is studying the best way to swing with a flawed mechanical action (keeping the leading heel planted).

They’re studying how best to break your back, in essence.

And doing a cracking job of it, as someone as young and supple as Michelle Wie is coming down with hip issues in her mid-20’s…

And where, may I ask, does any other athletic swinging motion require planted leading heels?


NOWHERE, is the answer.


The greatest players and swingers of all time, in golf’s history, have been swingers who let their leading heel lift naturally on the back swing.

Tiger Woods, by the way, is only “great” having played and won majors with a planted heel swing because virtually everyone else out there is now swinging the same way – and someone has to win the tournament, even if they all play swinging opposite-handed and backwards.

That doesn’t mean the way he’s doing it is the proper way.

Fact: Ben Hogan is the most widely studied swinger, and even the modern swing pushers are constantly talking about Hogan.

When Hogan was a floating heel swinger, and never swung with a deliberately planted leading heel…

Ben Hogan

Ben Hogan's Floating Heel


Go ahead – I dare anyone to tell me Hogan swung with a planted heel with his longer clubs (a half-swing with an iron or wedge might not require the heel to lift).

Go ahead and tell me Hogan’s heel is planted swinging with his longer clubs…

hogan heel lift



In golf, if someone says something enough times, it becomes fact, even if it couldn’t be further from the truth. Hogan floated his heel, and anyone who says different either doesn’t know anything about looking at video, or they’re selling snake oil packaged as “Hogan-proper.”

You want to be like Hogan?

Let that heel float.

Fact: You can’t turn the hips with a planted heel, without sliding over the leading foot.  And that is not a pivot

kuchar address top


If you aren’t using your hips on the back swing, you’re swinging with your back and core muscles.

No other sport would do that when the primary pivoting comes through the lower body, turning the hips back and forth for the rotary power production.

So, this is why I don’t have any time for “Biomechanics” when it comes to golf.

Every one, every swing, every “expert,” begins with a planted heel back swing.

Making all of it and and all of them completely, utterly, bogus.

That would be like using biomechanics to figure out the best way to run backwards, without ever considering the mechanics behind a front-facing running stride.

Ass-backwards, I call it.

But hey – that’s modern golf theory and “science.”




8 thoughts on “Why Golf Biomechanics/Kinesiology Is Bogus

  1. buddhabob

    the best way to reintroduce the floating heel is to not go to the mattresses and attack the modern idiot swing.

    It’s to bring out dozens of vids of Nicklaus lifting his left heel like a ballroom dancer and then smashing it down like a big league bomber. Nicklaus knew to add the foot stomp for additional power just like any home run hitter naturally does.

    The reason its not represented in the Hogan swing is because it isn’t nearly so obvious with Hogan and it barely floats. Hogan had a flatter,tighter swing. Nicklaus was more athletic in his approach, more aggressive.

    If you could sell that aggressiveness to young up and coming golfers you could revive the proper pivot and heel action and the power of the hips and it could become standard again. Just imagine Sadlowski with a planted heel. Not possible.

    He was a hockey player with incredibly strong legs and pivot which you need on the ice. In the end I think the planted heel more than anything is a reflection of the need by teachers to control their students and its based in the faulty logic that by reducing motion in the feet you add accuracy.

    But its really all about a psychological need to control and its being taught largely by nonathletes or one sport athletes. Nicklaus played basketball and football like all the kids back then and golf was merely seasonal for many of them.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I don’t think there’s any way to cut through the noise of the modern swing machine, buddhabob – the swing went that way right around the time he was retiring, so even while he was a living legend, people ignored the way he swung.

      I’ve shown Hogan’s heel lift, and people who read and look at this post who claim he didn’t, will continue to do so. All of their instruction has been built on that, so to admit to being wrong would be a mile too far for them.

      It’s like people believing Elvis is still alive. You can’t stop people from believing what they want to believe, all I can do is point out to the open-minded (and I know I’m open-minded because the first three years of my swing research were conducted largely with planted-heel models, until I faced the reality that it wasn’t mechanically-sound).

      If someone is offended by my calling the golf biomechanical field “bogus,” they’ll be even more offended that I say it all begins with a false premise. No one likes to be wrong, especially when they stake everything they have on being right.

      I believe I saw Chief Cowpie posting something about this over at Golf WRX, where he wrangles with people about MCS – it was either he or someone commenting to him, who used the following quote by Upton Sinclair:

      “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

      I’ve usually heard that quote in political discussions, but it rang very true to me when I read it concerning golf and modern instruction.

      But hey, if posting stuff about Nicklaus might change minds, I’ll post Nicklaus ’til the cows come home. I’ve been delayed from the Nicklaus Project due to my excitement at perfecting my personal UMCS swing, but I will definitely be getting around to Mr. 18 Majors.

      1. john1brady

        “It is easier to fool someone than to convince them that they have been fooled” Samuel Clemens

      2. jh32

        That was me posting on chief’s comment. Got it from a Doc. discussing cures for cancer. Jim

  2. Laser

    “Golf Biomechanics Begins With a False Premise.”

    –I am going to disagree with you…and agree with you. The real false premise is that you can see what’s happening by looking at video–especially face-on and down-the-line.

    The truth is, “The thing that made them [the all-time greats] so accurate and repeatable was NOT APPARENT OR READILY VISIBLE – it was their internal machine, working along it’s intended design.” ~ DJ Watts

    (Video might be good at eliminating theories, but not so good at formulating them. By the way, that back-angle view of Hogan is my favorite. If I were forced to explain golf to somebody, that’s the view I’d pick.)

    By the way, nice re-design.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Thanks, Laser. Not sure about the layout, but I am looking to change the site somewhat going forward.

      Now, the quote of mine about internal machines – the old greats swung the same way, and more mechanically-correctly, so in that regard, it would have been more difficult to see how the great swingers were doing it better than the good ones.

      Compare them to today’s swingers however, and the differences are readily visible.

      I still don’t understand how planted heel became a tool for stability and power, when (and this is my opinion, not an assertion of fact) today’s pros aren’t as straight as the old ones, even with the improved technology, and they’re dropping like flies with injuries.

      Sam Snead, Arnie Palmer, Nicklaus, Jimmy Thomson – these guys were slammers with persimmon and balata, and they could drive it further than nearly all but a couple of the pros today when you factor in technology.

      And they weren’t killing themselves to do it. Give today’s pros the same equipment, and watch the disabled list explode.


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