Play Better at Fox Hollow #7–Knee Flex
Moving Parts #1–Knee Flex
We first talked about our knee flex when we were discussing our Posture and our 3-D Set-up Box. We saw how important it was to set up with a similar knee flex from shot to shot. But today as we continue with more full-swing tips, we take it one step further and talk about how important it is to keep our knees flexed throughout the swing until the ball is gone.
This is the first of three lessons on body parts we don’t want moving during the swing, and we start with the knees because it’s the most common moving part I see. And while these three lessons might seem exceedingly basic and simple to understand, they prove to be exceedingly difficult to put into practice consistently for beginners and long-time golfers alike.
How many of us have heard a well-meaning golfer drop this instructional gem on a playing partner: “Hey buddy, you’re lifting your head.” That well-meaning golfer is certainly trying to help, but isn’t getting to the root of the problem. The head might be moving, but there are plenty of tour-level golfers who have their heads moving all over the place. The root of the problem starts with the knees moving up and down, which causes the head to follow. When our knees move, we take all of the set-up positions we worked so hard to establish, and we throw them out the window. With moving knees, we’re relying on our timing to get us back to our original starting position. And while that timing might be perfect once in awhile, resulting in solid contact, it’s not something you want to rely on for every shot.
Instead, let’s rely on keeping our knees flexed throughout the swing and the club will have a much better chance to return to the ball to make that solid contact.
There are two times during the swing when the knees most want to straighten:
1. Right at the top of the backswing everyone wants to add a little more backswing and the knees un-flex. This pulls you away from the ball and unless your timing is perfect, you won’t get those knees flexed back to where they were. Check Photo #4 below for an example.
2. Right before impact, our brain tells our body that we need to get that ball airborne. Our body’s response is snapping those knees straight to try to help the ball into the air. This again is a problem because when our knees rise, our club also rises and we’ll hit the well-known worm-burner that never gets higher than our head. Check Photo #5 for an example.
How do we practice keeping our knees flexed?
1. To combat the tendency to lift up at the top of the backswing, focus on stopping a little sooner at the top. If you feel like you’re swinging at 80% effort, that’s probably the perfect backswing length that won’t make you want to un-flex your knees.
2. You can also have a friend gently place the grip-end of a club on the top of your head. Then you swing without having the club fall off your head (and without killing your friend). Or if your friends aren’t brave enough to stand that close to you during a swing, just imagine a teacup resting on top of your head and try to keep it there until after impact when the momentum of your follow-through makes your knees straighten.
So while the well-meaning swing guru isn’t completely right that your moving head is destroying your golf game, he isn’t completely wrong either. Because if you can keep your head still, chances are you’re keeping your knees flexed. Whichever is easier for you to focus on, the knees or the head, just remember, the head isn’t the body part initiating the movement we don’t want to see; it’s the knees. Keep them flexed through impact for consistently solid ball-striking.
Stay tuned for our next full swing tip as we talk about more moving body parts that kill our consistency. And if you have any questions about this lesson, or any of our other lessons, please talk to your local PGA Professional or give us a call at Fox Hollow.
Eric Larson, PGA
GM/Head Golf Professional
Fox Hollow Golf Club
Mike Seiffert, PGA
Fox Hollow Golf Club