Weight on the Back Foot at Impact

Mark Oswald
Community Manager
The Highlands at Dove Mountain in Marana, AZ.
Marana, AZ
oswaldpga@msn.com

More Information

One major problem that I have seen in the majority of lessons given, is weight on the back foot at impact. The effects of this lack of weight shift can be seen with the club coming over the top on the downswing and creating the outside in path, distance loss due to the lack of power in the hitting area and the golf club getting ahead of the hands at impact, again giving up distance.

Outside/In club path. If the club is on path during the backswing, it can change quickly if the downswing is started by the arms and hands and not the lower body. Look closely at Rory McIroy as he starts the downswing.  The first movement down is with the lower body.  The right knee begins moving towards the left knee, the right foot begins moving the weight towards the left foot, the right heel begins coming off the ground. With the lower body starting the downswing, the hands will flatten slightly as the downswing begins. The downswing path will be flatter or lower than the backswing. As the weight continues to shift forward to the front foot you will continue on this inside path to the ball. At impact Rory’s right heel is about three inches off the ground; the weight is already on the front foot as the club is making contact with the ball. 

Maximum power is achieved when hitting the ball as your weight is hitting your front foot. How do you throw a ball for maximum power? Look at a baseball pitcher. In the wind up, weight is shifted to the back foot and then transferred to the front foot as the ball is released. The pitcher explodes off of the back foot as weight is transferred to the front foot and the ball is released. To generate the speeds of 80 – 100 mph it is critical to shift the weight forward when releasing the ball. If the pitcher was required to keep the back foot on the mound while releasing the ball, pitching speed would be down in the 50 – 60 mph range. This is the same motion required for power in the golf swing. During the backswing, weight is transferred to the back foot which will then explode into the ball at impact as the weight is transferred onto the front foot as impact is made with the ball.

Another common problem when the weight is not transferred to the front foot prior to impact is allowing the clubface to get ahead of your hands at impact. If this happens you will be adding loft to the club and losing distance. There is only four degrees of loft between the different irons. It is easy to add from four to eight degrees of loft by allowing the club face to get ahead of the hands, the end result is your five iron now has the effective loft of a seven iron at impact. To prevent the club face from getting ahead of the hands at impact, you must start down with your lower body and continue shifting your weight forward during the downswing.

Here are some drills to get your weight shift started sooner and to begin the downswing:

•  Right Foot, Left Foot drill.  Begin with a half swing with the club and work on transferring the weight to the right foot on the backswing and left foot on the downswing, (this is for the right handed golfer).  Advance to the full swing after you can successfully feel the weight transfer with the half swing.

•  Right Knee to Left Knee drill.  Take your backswing shifting weight onto the right foot. To begin the downswing start moving your right knee towards the left knee. Continue moving the right knee and weight forward until touching the left knee. Pick out the point where the ball is positioned, you should cross this line with your club face and right knee at the same time.

•  Fire Off the Right Foot.  Picture the track runner firing out of the starting block. This is the beginning point of the downswing. Your weight is firing off of the back foot and crossing the impact line with the club face and finishing on the front foot.

For more distance, a better swing path and better club control, bring the downswing with your weight shifting to the front foot. Look at Rory’s right heel at impact; it is off the ground as he makes contact with the ball. How is your heel?

For more help with your golf game contact Mark Oswald at oswaldpga@msn.com.