What Really Starts Your Downswing? by Sue Kaffenburg


I  spend time at the start of a lesson gathering information from my students about what they think about prior to two important moments of the golf swing motion: the start of the backswing and the start of the downswing.  I am amazed at how non-specific their answers are. While there is great merit in having a quiet mind to play your best golf, that doesn’t mean you can be without a specific plan on the range when you practice.  To play your best golf, you must be able to answer those two questions.  1) How do you start your backswing and 2) how do you start your downswing? The most important of these is knowing how to start your downswing!! While it is important to have solid beliefs about the start of your backswing, Gary Player emphasized to me that, “…you don’t hit the ball with your backswing!!” I spoke of the important start of the backswing feelings in a previous article. Concepts like using the big muscles rather than the small are the best approach. Case in point, left shoulder down and pushing away is better than right hand pulling the club back. But, my advice to you is to put more attention in your practice time searching for the answer to what starts your downswing!

Chances are you’ll say hips do something, or shoulders, core, knees, hands, etc. The truth is those body parts are involved for sure. But, you will be a slave to timing if you believe one of these INITIATES the downswing.  CLUE: What does the baseball pitcher use to initiate power for his pitch? What does the basketball shooter use to start his jump shot? How about Brady, for the touchdown pass? The answers are all the same!!!! They use THE GROUND. I’ll bet you don’t. For power in the golf swing, PAY ATTENTION TO THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR RIGHT FOOT!!!! Notice how you can use it to PUSH off the ground. Notice also how you CANNOT get your weight fully on your left side, nor be fully extended at the finish (think standing tall like the Tour Players) unless that right foot has done his job! Just like the other sports, golf power is generated from using pressure against the ground! Go to the range and put your attention on that neglected right foot. First, set your right foot a bit flared out at the toe. This helps you push off better. Hit small, slow motion shots where you can be AWARE of the FEELING of that foot pushing you left and up. (For right handed players). Then increase your speed. Notice also how your right shoulder goes down (rather than around!!), helping your club path come from the inside. You’re on your way to shots that fly farther and straighter!!! More POWER to you…RIGHT (foot) ON!!


Sue Kaffenburgh, PGA/LPGA, 
Bayberry Hills Golf Course, Yarmouth, MA.
susiepga@comcast.net  508-364-GOLF (4653)