“Using The Ground” They Just Can’t Help Themselves

Let me begin this post by stating that I love Wes Patterson’s long drive swing action, and I’m in no way criticizing him here.

He not only eliminated the #1 Ranked swinger (Maurice Allen) the day before in the Round of 32, he’s got the classic lifting heel pivot, the awesome right-tilting spine at impact with the head behind the right knee, and a flawless left side position.

However, I have spent a lot of time de-bunking the whole myth of “using the ground,” where a swinger’s leading foot leaves the ground at or before impact due to the fact that he’s not transferring his weight from and releasing the trailing foot.

It is not a “power” boost when you’re doing this, but simply a body and swing-saving move that allows you to keep the hips turning with the right foot anchored and to keep the the leading hip, knee and ankle from rupturing from the force of the turning hips against that leading foot.

Simply, you cannot walk or run with both feet planted to the ground, because of the swinging of the hips.

In the same vein, you cannot get a full hip turn to the finish of your golf swing if you’re keeping that trailing foot planted to the ground, so rather than snap everything below the belt into a million little pieces, the swinger’s compensation is to release the leading foot.

If you watched last night’s Round of 16 at the Volvik World Long Drive Championship, you would have heard more of this nonsense of swingers “using the ground” and “jumping for power,” and I actually turned it off before it had even begun, and watched something that wasn’t going to annoy me every ten seconds.

I therefore missed Wes Patterson breaking his shaft over his shoulder on one swing, but H.K. Golf and Chief Cowpie forwarded a clip of it to me, and I just want to show something that will illustrate the point I’m making:

If you watched that clip, you’ll have noticed Michael Breed unable to stop himself from saying the word “jump” when there is absolutely no jump in the swing about which to speak:

Look at how he loads into that trail leg… now he starts to torque the lower body starting first, jumping back… and watch this shaft is gonna break…

At no point in the swing does Patterson do anything remotely close to “jumping,” but that’s the new line everyone has to hammer when analyzing the swing, along with “using the ground” whenever it happens.

And I hate to say, it’s either because the analysts are deliberately trying to mislead the viewer about a swing compensation (these guys are the best, so they can’t do anything wrong, right?) or, perhaps, they have no clue what they’re talking about.

You decide.

In fact, I can show you that the movement in Patterson’s foot does not come pre or at impact, rather post-impact, and anyone who knows anything about physics knows that nothing you do after impact will affect a ball that has already been struck and is in the air:

Look at the sequence above, which begins right around where Breed mentions the word “Jumping” and you tell me where the jump is.

Patterson’s foot is still on the ground at impact as you can clearly see, and it is only the violence of the follow-through with the continued hip turn that forces the left foot to spin on the follow, because he’s got his right foot firmly anchored and isn’t releasing it.

That’s it.

The flying foot whether it happens just before, during or post-impact, is not a power move, it’s a swing and body-saving move.

Look at Patterson below at impact compared to yours truly about 4 years ago when I was really going after the ball and getting over 8 seconds hang time with a 45″ shafted TaylorMade RBZ driver:

I’ve got more flex in my leading leg, and my hands aren’t as far forward due to the ball position difference, but the only real difference you’d see after this point would be in Patterson’s leading foot moving on the follow, whereas I have all of my weight transferred to the leading foot, allowing my trailing foot to release or “short-stop slide” on the follow.

So last night you saw a long driver snap his shaft swinging virtually exactly the way I would theorize it should be done, with the minor critiques, of course.

Patterson has a gorgeous long drive swing, and my only personal “critiques,” if you will, would be on the setup, which although just barely right-biased, could be a tad more:

… and of course the failure to release the right foot and instead spinning out on the left.

That’s it.  There’s not much to pick on with this swing, and no, he didn’t “jump” for more power, and as for “using the ground,” every single person who swings a golf club is “using the ground,” as they’re standing on it.

So, if you took away the three keys that these analysts keep reaching for:

1. “Loading Into The Trailing Leg,” 2. “Using The Ground,” 3. Some Variation of “Jumping For Power,”

… you’d notice that they don’t really have anything to offer in terms of swing analysis.

So, if you see anything note-worthy in tonight’s final, feel free to pass it along, as I’ll likely not be watching – I can only listen to so much of that stuff and by the 5th time, I’ll be gone.

Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?

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14 thoughts on ““Using The Ground” They Just Can’t Help Themselves

  1. John Marshall

    I totally agree with your analysis, D.J. I’m sure there are people every day at every range on the planet trying to jump in the air thinking it will give them more power. Simply not the case.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hello, Mr. Marshall, good to hear from you! Thanks for chipping in with your thoughts. It’s truly discouraging to see what long drive analysis is coming to.

      I thought the “double-lever” stuff about Sadlowski was bad back in the day, but this is past ridiculous.



    1. D Watts Post author

      I don’t know if it’s stronger, Chief. Everyone’s grip when neutral can look a little different, but it does look stronger.

      Interesting that you mention the levers, because I was just thinking of his great leverage coming down and through the ball.

      But they all have great leverage really, or they wouldn’t be in Oklahoma this week. Some are just a little better than the others, as Patterson is showing.

  2. Chief Cowpie

    Went back and read a few previous articles of yours. Saw the Jack picture with the weaker grip and then stepped outside in the rain and tried swinging with a very weak grip and then a very strong grip. I believe the Saugerties/Austin counter rotational swing had an extremely weak grip but Mr. Marshall would know more about that.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I don’t really have much to say about the grip except that you want to be square at impact, and if you have a neutral grip at address that has the face square, and you return to square, then you can’t really do much wrong in that area.

      So, counter-rotation and everything else just seems to be adding more motions and moves to a simple action, or one that should be.

      But, to each his own!

  3. Chief Cowpie

    Another amusing aspect of Wes’ swing is his feet are very square at address but in the course of the swing, they find the more advantageous positions. Takes a bit of dancing to get there.

    1. D Watts Post author

      He starts out square with the leading foot then, as you noted, he replants it in a more suitable flared position. Takes some heavy-duty talent and athletic coordination to do that, but then, that’s part of why half of long drivers’ balls go OB – a lot of stuff to keep track of when it’s not as simple as you can make it.

      My two cents. But still a gifted and amazing athlete.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I remember an episode of Love Boat where they guest-starred and serenaded Isaaq during the episode-ending concert with “He’s So Shy…” Am I dating myself? 😉

    1. D Watts Post author

      Isn’t that funny, I had dim sum with my eldest son yesterday and he was trying to get me to read and watch G.O.T.!

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