Caveat – Not Even Dunaway Was Fully Planted

This is likely never end until the Modern Golf Swing has been pierced through the heart and buried with a garlic necklace, but I want to repeat to everyone that a “low or planted heel back swing” does not mean nailing the heel to the ground.

I would bet you that even the most flexible person who claims  to be able to pivot with a fully planted heel does not actually do this, but just thinks they are doing so.

I spent ten minutes yesterday seeing how far I could turn my hips with a completely planted leading heel, and I felt it in my left hip and the inside of my knee the rest of the day – and I was being careful, OK?

So, I cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no one out there who can swing with a completely planted heel, but let’s just say that the evidence is damning, especially if I add “without eventually incurring joint problems or injury…”

Tiger Woods – completely planted, it would appear, during his amateur career:

But look at where I drew the circles on Tiger’s body at the time I posted whatever I was saying about his swing as an amateur (which I described as virtually flawless but for the heel plant), and re-read what I said about my planted-heel pivoting yesterday – I felt it in my left knee and hip, and where have I drawn the circles on Tiger’s body?

Moe Norman is known as a planted-heel swinger in his time, although he started out and won his Canadian Amateur titles as a classic swinger, but look at Moe even when he claimed to be planted:

You may think that the little separation in the heel area is so insignificant as to be irrelevant, but it isn’t – the foot is moving naturally and preventing strain on the knee and hip when you allow it to move, but when you nail it down, you’re interfering with that action and introducing the strain.

Mike Dunaway, if you can find the right angle and camera view (the pics yesterday don’t show the bottom of the shoe), had what people call a “planted heel” swing, but I show you that it was just a very, very minimal lift as I have described in the “Kinesiology of the MCS Golf Swing” video, if you watch the below clip of Dunaway at the 0:28 and 1:07 marks:

So, when I say that you can swing in a certain way with a very low heel lift, I have yet to see truly fully planted swings last very long without incurring some negative effect.

Tiger Woods did not develop knee problems from Navy S.E.A.L. training, give me a break – it may have aggravated his problem, but he was having left knee surgery as far back as before he turned pro, and no one ever talks about that.

So, I have given people a model of a way to swing with a very minimal heel lift, and I have also warned that if you are going to nail that heel down firmly with no give at all in the knee and foot, you’re going to risk issues in the long term, and that’s if you’re lucky.

The only way to reduce the strain is to move more and more weight to the left at address and during the back swing pivot, and this is what led to TW’s back issues, as I’ve covered that issue extensively.

You can’t swing properly with a planted heel, but you can swing very well, and very powerfully, with a low heel lift, especially if you’re a right-dominant swinger, but you will always be courting danger and risking injury or a deterioration of your swing model if you insist on nailing that heel down.

The problem with the Modern Golf Swing is and always has been the restricted hip turn and the twisting of the lower back, not the planted heel itself – the planted heel is the way to restrict that hip turn, of course, and the problem with the planted heel itself comes when you try for more hip turn than the planted heel will allow, and then you get into risking injury with the hip and knee.

So, keep in mind that I will never endorse a swing model where the leading foot is nailed down, and especially never a swing model with a twisting lower back and restricted hip turn on the back pivot, because they are simply not the natural way to move.

Very low heel lift?

If you can do it the way Dunaway did it, knock yourself out, but remember that he wasn’t nailed down either:


6 thoughts on “Caveat – Not Even Dunaway Was Fully Planted

  1. Laser

    “there is no one out there who can swing with a completely planted heel”

    –Well…(heh-heh)…there was Stack-and-Tilt (R.I.P.) Heel perception is an easy mistake to make from looking at face-on and DTL views. As you demonstrate, up-the-line or a rear view is much more informative.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Let me re-phrase that for you, Laser:

      here is no one out there who can swing mechanically-correctly with a completely planted heel”

      Of course, if you want to swing with a half-swing motion, then be my guest, but that’s really not what anyone is claiming.

      Modern Swing claims you can swing with a full pivot with a planted heel, and it just isn’t so.

      And the two most popular angles for looking at swingers, as you note, are woeful for observing what the leading heel is doing.

  2. Harleyweedwhacks

    I used to plant my heel mostly, though it would come up a few centimeters on my longer clubs. Didnt have back problems because i was young, mostly just grinding away at my back slowly. I’ve embraced the floating heel, where it comes up as a result of my hip turn, not deliberately pushing it up, which causes problems.

    I still want to know how to ingrain the motion so that i can use it on the course without thinking about it. Any way of doing this?

    1. D Watts Post author

      There’s only one way to do it, HWW – reps. I have made a million swings and still have to focus on the mechanics when making a change from something I’ve been doing.

      Anything that is an ingrained action (the old swing) will take time to change to another ingrained action (the new swing).

      Anyone who knows how to change a swing instantly and permanently would be worth their weight in gold if they could teach that method, but I haven’t seen that being done.

      So, once you know the action you want, it’s a matter of first performing that action passably, then working on it ’til it’s an unconscious move.

      It shouldn’t take forever though, because if you can’t do it in a reasonable period of time, then something is amiss. The proper motion for your body shouldn’t take years to bring out.

      Remember – it all starts with the address position. If something is off there, then you won’t be able to make the motion you want and still contact the ball. So that’s the first place to look if you’re struggling.

  3. buddhabob

    Dunaway is clearly lifting his heel. He hit thousands of balls in front of his teacher Mike Austin and I seriously doubt would ever have even been allowed to plant even if he wanted to. He was a football player at college and I believe the source of his power which Greg Norman said was unmatched in his time was his powerful core,his hips and the swinging leverage there in. A reedy, average size player would have hit the ball 50 yards shorter with the same swing but even then would be hitting a long way imo.

    1. D Watts Post author

      A reedy, average size player would have hit the ball 50 yards shorter with the same swing but even then would be hitting a long way imo.

      Agreed. Just as there is no substitute for technique, with all else being equal, the bigger and stronger swinger will have an advantage, and Dunaway was a powerhouse.

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