BY T.J. TOMASI
“Leggy” players such as Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Camilo Villegas use noticeable lower-body action in their swings, and quiet players such as Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover and Padraig Harrington do not. But while each group’s leg action looks different, there are many similarities. Below is an outline of these similarities — the things every golfer should be doing regardless of swing type.
Complete motion of your core, including the hips, cannot be achieved unless your knee joints are flexed, thus the correct arrangement for the knees is bent at address. The amount of knee flex is determined in large part by your physique and your balance system and not by some arbitrary, one-size-fits-all standard. Golfers play well at both ends of the “knee bend” continuum.
To find your natural balance point for knee flex, take a normal stride, allowing your back heel to rise off the ground as you plant your front foot flat on the ground. Stop at this point and check the amount of bend in your front knee. This is your optimum balance position. Your knee flex at address should match the knee bend of your normal walking stride just as your forward foot flattens on the ground.
Preserving the angle formed by the upper and lower leg keeps your swing level. Thus the angle should be maintained from address through impact.
During the swing
Your knees “get friendly” during your golf swing. The front knee moves behind the ball on the backswing, then reverses direction to start your downswing.
During the downswing, the back knee “chases” the front one, almost catching up at impact because the front leg has stopped and straightened to form a “wall” to hit over.
Keep leg muscles in shape
If you do only one exercise to keep your leg muscles in shape, it should be the golf squat:
Assume your normal golf stance using a 5-iron, then bring the club to a vertical position, keeping the clubhead in place on the ground so it can serve as a support. Next, simply bend your knees until your thighs are almost parallel with the ground.
To avoid injury, at no time should you squat lower than parallel. Keep your back as straight as you can and use a mirror to check your form.
Do three sets of 12 reps every day.
In abbreviated form, the golf squat is an ideal warm-up before you tee off.
(And check with your doctor before you start a squat program.)