Ask any pro these days what is the weakest part of an amateur's game and I guarantee that at least one out of 100 will say it is footwork! (Probably more than that, but I have to leave some room for CYA, ya know.) The footwork involved in the golf swing is critical to ensure proper balance, weight shifting and release.
Because each person's golf swing is different it would be foolish for me to give a strict edict on what your feet should be doing. But I can offer some helpful nuggets of wisdom that should begin to make you the Ali of the fairway.
- Stretch for ten minutes before each round. Your legs — which are held up by your feet — must be limber enough to support the strain you are about to place on them. By stretching your hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles before each round you are effectively lengthening the amount of extension you will get from each muscle.
- Fan your feet. Instead of squaring up your feet to your shoulders, try fanning your feet out 5 to 10 degrees (opposite of pigeon toe). This will give you greater extension in your back swing and also help to get the club face back to square at impact. This is done by the left hip being given permission from the feet to clear before impact is made.
- Do not slide or tiptoe. The slide or dreaded tiptoe usually occurs during the back swing. It is generally a result of physical restriction in the hip area from older golfers looking for more distance - or from lazy editors who simply don't follow their own advice. They attempt to get too far in their back swing and inadvertently begin to slide or tiptoe their left (right handed golfers) side. If this is happening to you, don't panic. Just reference the first tip and accept that it might be time to move up one set of tee boxes.
- When in doubt, always play the ball toward the back of your stance. Doing this promotes a subconscious message to shorten the back swing and hit down on the ball. Much less emphasis is put on the lower body from this position, and footwork becomes much less complicated.
Footwork may not be the glamor topic of a golf lesson, but well... uh... it sure is important! So change your spikes regularly and don't wear too much Tiger Balm (it's not Tiger's secret stuff anyway). Good luck this week on the fairways across our great globe and remember, if none of this works it's because you didn't do it right!