I have been looking for some examples of how many of the greatest swingers to play pro golf got properly into the leading side and foot through the ball rather than hanging back, and you’ll likely be surprised by some of the names that had a “short-stop slide” at one point in their careers.
That move is sorely lacking in today’s swingers, most of whom release a foot on the down swing alright – the leading foot, which is supposed to be the foot on which one plants when swinging through!
Usually, it was early on rather than than later, if they didn’t have it all the time, and I’d attribute this to simple age and physicality – you swing harder and faster at a younger age, so if you’re swinging vigorously enough to need a “short-stop slide” to avoid injuring yourself, it will be the younger version and not the older, for the most part.
Did you know that Ben Hogan, in the days before and even after his crippling car wreck that damaged his hips and legs, had a slide? I bet many don’t, but I point it out in my video “The Ben Hogan Project” back in the 2014, and it’s as big a slide as I’ve ever had in my swinging days:
Now that is a proper transition into the down swing and full transfer to the leading leg and foot, wouldn’t you say?
How about the man they called “Lord Byron,” Mr. Byron Nelson, who won 11 straight Tour events and 18 that season, both records that will likely never be broken, and for whom the “Iron Byron” swing robot is named?
Of course – and it was seeing this in Nelson’s own swing early in my swing research days that led me to the conclusion that my own short-stop slide at the time was not a mechanical flaw.
Once I saw that Nelson had a slide, I thought about it and realized that, of course, if you’re going to move aggressively onto the leading foot with a hip turn to the target, you can’t have both feet nailed to the ground if they’re more than a few inches or centimeters apart!
Now, if you know that Hogan and Nelson both did something in their swings, wouldn’t that be enough to make you think about it, without anyone else having done it?
What about the man Jack Nicklaus said had a “million dollar swing,” one George Knudson, who likely would have won a fistful of majors had he not had a “ten-cent putter” to go with that swing?
Might be hard to catch for some with less-than-sharp vision, but it’s clear that as he moved aggressively into his leading foot, that trailing foot released – and it would have been more pronounced but for the fact that his trailing foot was pretty square to the target line. A flared foot would have had more toe drag than one with the toes closer to the target line…
We know of course about Greg Norman’s slide, which was probably the most pronounced I’ve seen in great swingers, and this was the man largely considered today and then to be the greatest driver in the persimmon club era:
Now, the next swinger didn’t play on the PGA Tour, he was only the father of modern long drive and was hired by Callaway Golf in the 80’s to be their proto-type tester for what became the Big Bertha driver – Mike Dunaway, who had either a slide or a “step-through” with his action:
So, there are five swingers just from the list of swingers I’ve posted about in my days of looking at swing mechanics, and they are showing how, if you swing with vigor, you need to release that trailing foot to avoid seeing this:
There are great swingers who didn’t release the trailing foot, like Jack Nicklaus, but my criticism of Nicklaus has always been, if he had any swing flaws, that he got sloppy with his footwork, and who knows, perhaps he wouldn’t have required hip replacement in his 50’s if he’d released that trailing foot instead of letting his lead foot twist that way it did at times.
How do you get that slide? Well, it’s not a matter of a “slide,” the point is to release the trailing foot at some point so you don’t have to twist or “jump” the leading foot to allow the hips to complete their turn.
And if you work on your “One Exercise” with the Kettle Bell (the Release & Finish phase exercise), and make sure you’re doing the same thing when you do your speed work with the swing stick or SwingRite… you’ll see how natural it is when you get into that leading foot properly.
This is the key, my friends, to swinging as hard as you can without worrying too much about injuring yourselves – I’ve never injured myself swinging a club in my golf swing research, and while it’s no guarantee, it’s another insurance factor in swinging as mechanically-soundly as you can to reduce the risks of injury, and that’s a whole deal better than saying, “I’ll swing hard and take my chances…”
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