Another de-bunking here, as I heard a couple of times on the PGA Championship broadcast that players like Justin Thomas get “vertical lift” by having a high trailing heel and having the front foot leave the ground at impact.
Of course, I’ve made my view clear that I think the analysts on TV have no clue why a player does the “flying foot,” so you hear a lot of bunk concerning this.
Not to pick on Justin Thomas, who has won a handful of events and a major at his young age – the kid can flat-out play, and he can send that ball, but it has nothing to do with his “flying foot” (except for where he can’t hit a fairway or green at times).
This is about the stuff you hear on TV about swinging and swings from the “experts.”
In fact, the week before the PGA, at Bridgestone (which JT won), I think I dislocated my jaw when the phrase “perfect driving” and “perfect contact” came up during an analysis of JT’s driverswing – at the time, I checked his stats – he was 50% fairways for the day, and this was on the back 9!
Justin Thomas’ Final Round & Week Fairways @ Bridgestone
So, let’s look at this “vertical lift” of Justin’s that is supposed to enable him to get positive AA into the ball:
And let’s look at a Launch Monitor drive of his from Mexico City, with the Attack Angle:
There’s nothing wrong with +5.3 degrees Attack Angle, although the optimal is around 4 degrees, but let’s say it’s fine, and it is.
Now, let’s take a look at my feet during a swing when I was at the TXG Golf facility, producing pretty good Attack Angle myself:
Pretty low trailing heel and a completely flat and stable leading foot, and yet, I averaged +4.5 degrees Attack Angle on the 5 swings I compiled for my shot data, you’ll recall.
In fact, with the old Ben Hogan CS3 that I have, I hit a drive with it that day with +6.6 degrees Attack Angle:
… Believe it or not, I lowered my Attack Angle when I hit the Rogue Sub-Zero I used for the actual data, because the technician told me that around +4 degrees was the optimal (I was atcually in the 6-7 range with the CS3) – but look at my swing above again, and the footwork…
There is nothing in the “flying foot” syndrome that enables one to increase leverage, Attack Angle or anything else – it is, once again, a compensation for the swinger failing to release his trailing foot, and since the hips have to turn, the leading foot will jump and twist so that the knee doesn’t:
Not to mention, there is no vertical movement in Justin’s impact, if you watch his belt-line or his head – nothing is going up except the feet, because if there were any vertical lift, he’d miss the ball and swing over it!
It doesn’t make Justin Thomas as long as he is, other than allowing him to swing at the speed he does and not destroy his leading hip, knee and ankle with that anchored right foot.
I’ll tell you what it does, however – just like a lot of the long drivers who anchor their trailing foot and have the leading foot jumping and twisting at impact – you will pay for it in accuracy and consistency – witness Justin’s very low fairways hit percentage at the best of times, and his yanking many approach shots left of the green on a regular basis.
If he released the trailing foot and kept that leading foot firmly planted through the finish, he’d hit the ball as long or even longer, because a compensation is a swing-saver, not a swing-improver.
So, another TV analysis myth laid to rest here at WAX Golf, I hope.
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