Over the years Jack Nicklaus has always spoken about many facets of his golf swing. One piece that Jack seemed to always speak about was his footwork that he learned from his instructor Jack Grout. He always described the “rolling of his ankles” and playing between his feet” as vital components to his motion.
As an expert player reaches the impact position and beyond, watch their trial foot and how it will “bank” inward toward the lead foot. This is an important component to a good downswing to assist in getting the golfers weight moving in a forward fashion. As the outside of the trail foot raises up off the ground, it banks or rolls toward the target. The heel should not be coming off the ground at this point. This is happening in large part because the expert golfer will move their hips in a linear fashion first. A slide, a bump or whatever you want to call it is very necessary to move the weight forward. If there is only a turning component, not enough weight is moving through the shot. This is generally what is seen in the club golfer who is conditioned to only turn. As the recreational golfer turns from the top of their backswing starting down, this will have them moving up on their trail toe and only turning their hips. In most cases this will cause them to hit across the ball. For the expert player, as the hips move forward, they can then start to rotate. As the rotation happens at this stage in the swing, their heel will begin to ascend.
So, the benefits of banking your trail foot will lead to having better linear motion and a better turning rate throughout the entire swing. Lifting the heel too early can prevent weight transfer by stalling the hips and not hitting solid golf shots.