Earlier this week, video surfaced of Tiger Woods swinging his driver during a practice round ahead of the Hero World Challenge. In taking a quick look at his swing, one thing in particular jumped out at me that I thought I would point out for you.

Notice that during his swing, his left foot spins out a bit by the time he gets to his finish.

This observation inspired me to write this article, which is a piece I’ve actually had in mind to do for quite a while.

In modern golf instruction, it’s fairly common to see setups being taught in which the feet are perpendicular to the target line. Geometrically, this sounds fine and dandy. The problem, however, is that most people in their present physical state don’t have the mobility in their hips to be able to accommodate this type of setup… even many pros.

This includes myself.

Often times, what you’ll see is that the player will have no problems in the backswing and downswing. Then at some point in the through swing and/or on into the finish, the lead foot spins out or comes off the ground because it physically is unable to stay in the same place due in part to insufficient hip mobility. This is what you see in Tiger in the above.

Were it actually to stay in the same place, it could cause problems with the shot outcome…or worse yet, potentially lead to injury.

One way of improving the mobility of your hip is through golf fitness, particularly with something to target internal hip rotation in the lead leg.

However, aside from golf fitness or just starting that lead foot out in the first place where it finishes in the follow-through, here’s a simple four-step at-home trick to get your feet better set up.

1. Face the target parallel to your target line.

Face-Target

2. Balance yourself on what would be your trail leg and then without forcing it, turn your lead foot in as far as you can comfortably and set it back down on the ground.

Turn-Foot-In

3. While keeping that lead foot in the same place, pivot back to where you would be standing perpendicular to the target line.

Pivot

4. Get into your personal golf posture.

Setup

Voila! You are all set up in a position that accommodates your own personal body’s hip rotational capabilities.

Here’s what the finishing foot position looks like face-on for me.

Setup-Face-On

Although the lead foot may appear to turned outward quite a bit when you set up, it’s not to the point that it should limit your backswing motion. Most people can turn their feet outward farther than they can inward. So most should still be able to complete their normal back swing even with the more “open” lead foot.

As for the rear foot, to me where you put that will depend on what’s comfortable for you and/or what you want to accomplish with your backswing. For example, if you want a shorter backswing, you might make that trail foot be perpendicular to the target line. If you want a longer backswing, you could turn it outward a bit. It just depends on the person.

Anyway, in my experience, there are several common benefits I’ve observed that come from incorporating this type of lead foot setup.

  1. You might get a better sense of the target with more of your body facing in that direction.
  2. You may be able to “clear through the ball” a bit easier. Sometimes this leads to more distance because your body won’t need to slow down in anticipation of running out of room to swing due to a mobility issue.
  3. Since you won’t be needing to make some compensatory move to avert injury, you might swing and finish with better balance. This could not only lead to more distance, but potentially additional consistency and accuracy as well.
  4. You’ll probably be putting yourself at less risk for long term injury.

Give it a try! Hopefully your game (and long-term health) will thank you!

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Jaacob Bowden is a Professional Golfer, PGA of America Class A Member, Top 100 Most Popular Teacher, Swing Speed Trainer, the original founder of Swing Man Golf, the co-creator of "Sterling Irons" single length irons, and has caddied on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS.

Formerly an average-length hitting 14-handicap computer engineer, Jaacob quit his job, took his savings and moved from Kansas to California to pursue a golf career at age 27.

He has since won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, won multiple qualifiers for the World Long Drive Championships including a 421-yard grid record drive, made cuts in numerous tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s, and finished fifth at the Speed Golf World Championships at Bandon Dunes. Jaacob also holds the championship record for golf score with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds using only 6 clubs.

The Swing Man Golf website has more than 8,000 members and focuses primarily on swing speed training. Typically, Jaacob’s website members and amateur and tour player clients will pick up 12-16 mph of driver swing speed in the first 30 days of basic speed training.

You can learn more about Jaacob, Swing Man Golf, and Sterling Irons here:

Websites – JaacobBowden.com & SwingManGolf.com & SterlingIrons.com;
Twitter - @JaacobBowden & @SwingManGolf & @SterlingIrons;
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11 COMMENTS

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    • Thanks, Martin.

      My wife is there now…but I’m not sure when my next trip to Zurich will be. A lot of my travel for golf and what-not comes up on a whim.

  1. Thanks for the insightful article Mr. Bowden. I haven’t read anything yet that talks to much about the minimum flare needed based on personal anatomy. I’ve always had trouble getting enough flare in my lead foot mostly due to the geometric alignment in my mind makes me feel open when i flare my foot but thanks to your article i realized how significant this needs to be in my setup. I need about double the 22.5 degrees of flare Mr. Hogan suggests in 5 Lessons. I’m really going to work on getting my foot flared 45 degrees on every shot. Thanks for future injury prevention.

  2. I typically flare both feet a bit; the back more than the front – this just feels natural. If I flare the front one too much, my hips also open too much and bad things happen. I’m not sure how people play with both feet perpendicular. That position looks very nonathletic.

    • I will flare my back foot as well if I want my back swing to be longer, which I would do for example if I were to ever train to compete in long drive again.

      Yes, the perpendicular setup is not something I would generally advise anyone to do unless they had super flexible hip rotators. Otherwise it can cause too many problems with balance, put one at risk for injury, etc.

      My guess is the “narrow” stance width, but what about this particular setup looks nonathletic to you?

      If that’s what it is, I actually do that for a good reason too…but that’s a topic for another article!

      • Thanks for the response. I did not mean “your” stance in the pictures looks nonathletic; I like narrower stances. I meant someone that sets up with feet perpendicular look nonathletic. Sorry for the confusion; great article.

  3. What about your trail foot? Most people dont have the same flexibility equally spread in their hips. Either they can make a longer thru movement and shorter coil or vice versa. This seems to address the lead foot, or am I missing something? Im one of those rare ones that actually has to setup with my trailfoot quite rotated to the right ( almost 45 deg) so as to enable me to make a good turn/coil.

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