It’s Not The Lifting Heel That Is Important… (Updated)

**Updated At Bottom

It occurred to me that the whole idea of swinging with a lifting heel versus a “planted heel,” as I like to term it (deliberately pressing the leading foot into the ground so that the heel doesn’t lift) has become a tiresome debate.

This may be due to the fact that I don’t think a proper swing has anything to do with whether the heel lifts a lot, a moderate amount or even a minimal amount.

The heel issue obscures what the real issue is – and that is, the full and free turn of the hips on the back swing pivot.

I’ve been joking with Welshman about the phrase, but I’ll use it here just to make him smile – the full and free hip turn is the sine qua non of the mechanically-correct golf swing.

Without that, there is no mechanically-correct swing.  You’re now looking at the various modern models, of which there are too many to single out.

There is only one basic move in the optimal and mechanically-sound golf back swing pivot, and it isn’t the the lifting of the heel.

If that floors you, it should – the “Modern Golf Swing” guys talk a whole lot about reducing “moving parts” in the swing, but all they’re doing is adding more moving parts, which is ironic.

I can think of a bunch of moving parts created by the restriction of the hips on the back swing, whether done consciously or by planting the leading foot so that the hips turn only part of the natural rotation:

  • How about that head moving all over the place?
  • What about that left foot through impact?

Here’s another “great” modern golf swing, if you listen to the analysts:

These are “moving parts” that shouldn’t really be moving during this part of the swing.

I’ve actually heard analysts on the television praising that left foot moving all over the place, whether it’s twisting, jumping, or turning on the heel, all of which are compensations for flaws in the swing model being used.

The people praising this action either don’t know that it’s a compensation or worse, they fully know it and are lying to their audience.

You pick.

Compensations are not things to be praised, my friends.

They are the signs of improper mechanics, and if you don’t care about that, why are you looking at and analyzing motion to begin with?

To tell people how great improper mechanics are, and that you should emulate a flawed technique because… whatever?

So, in the simplest, optimal golf swing pivot, there is actually only one real move, and the body simply reacts to and follows that move.

Watch my little “Human Swing Machine” gif below, and you’ll see the one move I’m referring to, with the body simply following that move on the back swing:

If you see the ease with which you can perform a back swing pivot in order to swing the club, when you allow the hips to move with the pivot, then you know it’s not about just lifting the heel on the leading foot.

It’s about using the fewest “moving parts” in the swing, which is the whole notion of “simplicity.”

My own swing isn’t perfect, if such a thing can exist for a human being performing a motion.

But I’m very close to getting to “optimal,” which would be defined by the best possible way in which I personally can swing with my own body, with all of what I bring to it (being left-handed, having a spinal deformity, etc.).

I’ve been working feverishly in the eight weeks since I dropped the writ for the upcoming “E = MCS,” and not on anything you’d expect.

Sure, I’ve been recording swings on video and am currently waiting for a good light day without rain in the forecast to shoot the tutorial portion, but the real work has been behind the scenes, on the swing model.

How simple is it?

How simply can I explain it?

Can I demonstrate it in a way people will grasp it intuitively?

How simple is it?

It’s very simple, my friends.

So simple, I can’t believe no one has figured this out in all of the biomechanics and kinesiology studies on the golf swing, year over year, since the science of motion began.

Instead, they’re all feverishly trying to make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear that is the modern, restricted-hip and planted-heel golf swing pivot, which is not only mechanically-incorrect, but wrecking backs and bodies left and right.

Hey, I didn’t create this crazy world, I just live in it.

Mike Dunaway was so close, it’s unreal… this model below shows two moves on the back swing, one of which is the head shifting laterally.

The other move is the same one as in my model:

But that shifting head on the back swing – not optimal.  So, there’s a moving part that doesn’t have to be there.

But that’s how close MD was – give him a little more right-bias at the address, and he’d have been there.

It was the address.  The un-optimal address position he used created that one extra moving part that didn’t have to be there.

Just one extra part…

So, it’s not something I’ve made up out of whole cloth – there are some very good swing models out there, and I would be swinging their way, if not for this stubborn refusal of mine to accept anything that is not optimal in a motion.

Why do all of this research if one isn’t going to go all the way?

Still, I credit Mike Dunaway for having the closest thing to the optimal golf swing model that I will be presenting soon.

One move.

One conscious move, with the body simply following that move on the back swing.

It has nothing to do with me.

Swing this way, and you’ll be turning heads on the range and the course.

And it all starts and ends with the proper address position.

Stay tuned…


Nearly forgot to show the gif. of my “floating pivot” and classic golf swing that shows barely any lifting of the leading heel!

As I said, it’s not how much the heel lifts, but that you’re making a full and free hip turn, the degree of lifting will vary:


10 thoughts on “It’s Not The Lifting Heel That Is Important… (Updated)

  1. Chief Cowpie

    Good stuff. Loving these tasty morsels for the intellect of which builds the pyramid of MCS. . Will we see a return of some more “Shark and Bake”?

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hey Chief, and thanks!

      Shark & Bake

      Best Shark & Bake Between Here & Trinidad

      You won’t believe this, but since I began posting the Saturday “Shark & Bake” series, they were closed for nearly a full year (May ’16 to March this year) after a fire at the Japanese buffet next door damaged their unit.

      After renovating and repairing, they opened up again in March, and a couple of weeks ago, another fire in the same buffet restaurant has shut them down again with smoke damage, so it’ll be a month to six weeks (fortunately just smoke damage this time), and even I won’t be enjoying Shark & Bake for a while. 😦

      I’ll make to sure to throw another “Shark & Bake Saturday” posting back up when I have one in my hands, however! 😉

  2. Laser

    “barely any lifting of the leading heel!”

    –An inch is plenty, according to Hogan’s “Five Lessons.” That’s not the type of thing that a co-writer would invent.

    “Let me caution you against lifting the left heel too high off the ground on the backswing…an inch off the ground—fine. No higher.”

    1. D Watts Post author

      I’d have to both agree and disagree with him on that point – he’s obviously correct on the degree of heel lift not having to be more than an inch, as my posting virtually mirrors that sentiment.

      However, I would point out three classic era swingers who matched Hogan in ability and performance and who had significant heel lift – Snead, Nelson and Nicklaus.

      The model one uses will impact the nature of the leading foot action. So, I will continue to say that the amount of heel lift in the back swing doesn’t indicate whether one swing is better than another – but the simplest action, from the proper address position, will likely reduce the degree of heel lift.

      At the end of the day, if you get a full and free hip turn, you will be swinging properly. The degree of lift will depend on how you’re getting that hip turn.

      So, I agree that you don’t need more than an inch with the proper pivot, but that’s again focusing on the heel and foot action rather than the hip turn. That’s all I’m saying.

      1. jason

        Hi DJ. Need to send you some swings soon!

        I think Hogan also said he didn’t pay attention to the front heel at all. If it comes up, then so be it. Maybe his one inch suggestion had more to do with ensuring that people wouldn’t try to artificially lift their front heel and, thus, ‘less than an inch’ just being a check that they weren’t improperly lifting early.

        Personally, I think it’s almost better to side with the way that won’t hurt your back rather than trying to artificially restrict it by keeping it down. The heel lift should really come if you’re making full turn and there shouldn’t be any resistance to letting it come up.

        1. D Watts Post author

          Hi Jason!

          You’re absolutely right – funny you mention that, because that’s exactly what I said in shooting the tutorial yesterday – it may not be exactly this, but I something along the lines of:

          “It’s not how high you lift your heel that matters, but that you’re getting a full and free hip turn. Some may have a higher lift than others, who may have very little. But the key is the hip turn, and however high the heel has to lift to achieve it, is how high it should be…”

          And, I’ve gone from a very high heel lift to very little, while not losing any power – I’ve tightened my back swing pivot, but I have every bit of hip turn that I used to have, just from a better position and with improved mechanical action.

          So, yeah – what Hogan said! 😉

  3. lupz27

    Everyone is obsessed with getting the 90 degree shoulder turn, maybe if they were more obsessed with getting a full hip turn (you probably won’t like that phrase, more like getting your right hip behind you) they will realize how easily a completely inflexible person can accomplish the full 90 degree (sometimes further with more flexibility, and conditioning) shoulder turn, IE floating pivot. This would essentially eliminate most back issues on the tour, and in the game of golf in general.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Why wouldn’t I like the phrase “full hip turn,” Lupz? I fully agree with what you’re saying… if you want a 90 shoulder turn…

      Start with the hips! And yes, you can think of it as getting the right hip behind you – I use both terms, and see no problem with either. 🙂

      1. lupz27

        Awesome, just thought saying full hip turn was possibly a phrase that could be confused with lateral movement, I’m still learning 😀

        1. D Watts Post author

          No worries, I like to think I am as well, hopefully something new every day!

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