quick coaching

A Little Leg Action Goes a Long Way

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Hudson Swafford set himself apart from his peers this week in Palm Springs with the putter and his iron game. He gained over four strokes on the field with his approach play at The American Express. The 2017 champion won for the second time on Pete Dye’s Stadium Course this past Sunday. Take a quick look at this swing which led to an eagle on the 16 th hole in the final round.
Swafford is an impressive iron player. One way to increase your impact is to loosen up your
lower body in the takeaway. Watch Hudson’s swing again. Pay attention to his knees and legs. Do you see how much movement he creates? So many players have a stiff lower body in their swing. The result of a lack of leg action is an excessive amount of arm swing. When the arms take over, then the classic over the top impact position cannot be avoided.
Do not fear a little knee bend in the lead leg. Flexing that knee allows for the trail hip to turn and get out of the way. This allows the pelvis to pivot and create more balance in the backswing. It sounds somewhat opposite of what you may think, but the truth is if those legs stay locked the body cannot turn properly. This causes the beltline to get very level and upper body to raise.
PGA Coaches like myself love a good demonstration exercise to help our students feel the
correct movement. Get in your normal address position. Take an 8-iron and hook the club head around the back of your lead knee. This will point the grip end of the shaft up toward your trail hip. The shaft should fit very nicely in the area between your trail thigh and hip. Very slowly grab the grip end and begin to push against your trail hip.
You will instantly feel that lead knee start to bend. This is the feeling Swafford shows us in the video. Return to the start position and try again. Go very slow and push carefully against the handle of the club. The trail hip goes back, and the lead knee bends. The relationship between these two movements is very important. Trust me, that hip cannot go back unless the lead leg moves.
When we keep our legs stiff, it promotes a swaying motion rather than a turning one. For many of you this feeling will be new. Another quick demonstration you can do to feel this sensation starts by taking your address position again. Hold the same iron across your pelvis or beltline. Point the grip toward the imaginary target. Hold the club at the end with each hand. This time push back the trail side and feel that hip go back. The grip end should be turning back toward where the ball would be and pointing at the ground.
If that grip end is not pointing toward the ground, you haven’t turned properly. Look at Hudson’s move again. See how his beltline is at an angle? That’s the move we want to copy. Too many times we all don’t turn our torso and pelvis enough and the results speak for themselves. Train your turn with these two demonstrations. Take those specific feelings to the practice range and start loosening up that lower body. You’ll be amazed what a little leg action can do for your game.