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Zeph

Straightening the Right Knee on the Backswing

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You... Are... Ignorant.
Ok fine. Let's use ME as an example. Would that be enough proof? Or how about we use Mr. Erik? Or another single digit handicap golfer on here?

My knee straightens slightly.
I'm sure Erik's does.
Phil Mickelson's does.
Tiger's does.
VIJAY's does.
Jack's does.
You're great great great great grandfather twice removed's did.
Get over it. Stop trolling.

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For a right handed swing, the right leg does appear to straighten, but not necessareily as much as the left leg appears to bend. Some straightening allow for easier rotation and more torque, but to say a person can't rotate without the leg straigtening at all is also not quite correct. Stand with both legs perfectly staight and bend over slightly. Rotate your shoulders as if in a backswing - awkward but possible.

Vijay Singh is not a good example of a straightened back leg - at least in the pictures posted. Whether or not the photo on the left has been taken out of context, it doesn't illustrate the leg move as well as the earlier, exaggerated photos, from earlier in the thread.

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Rotate your shoulders as if in a backswing - awkward but possible.

Anthony Kim also doesn't decrease flex ("straighten") his rear knee much in his swing. He's incredibly flexible.

The simple fact is that for the hip to rotate the rear knee should straighten somewhat. As Butch said, and as I've said before, it has to - the distance from the ankle to the hip joint increases, and the knee straightening slightly is a result of that. And even Vijay's and AK's knee straightens a little. We may be talking about a few degrees, but it's there. (And they accomplish hip turn by pushing their front knee towards the ball a bit more than you'd propose - it moves your lower center. If you want to turn your hips in a circle the lower center should remain in the same spot. It's rare that it moves towards the ball.)

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I will say this. It is possible to swing without straightening the knee. I had to do it one time.
Stuck in between a thorn bush and a tree. If I straightened my knee, I'd get a nice rip in my pants.
So, You CAN do it. But it's not a good idea, IMO

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You can "straighten" the right leg and still maintain "flex" -- one is not dispositive of the other.

Correct. I think (hope?) we've made clear that nobody's endorsing locking the rear leg at any point.

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A video demonstration.



In this video I exaggerated the flex of the knees to make it obvious. I start in a twisted position with, oh, 60° of shoulder turn. When I finally turn my hips - right knee flex be damned - it straightens (decreases flex) - because it HAS to.

You can't physically rotate the hips on their inclined plane without the rear leg straightening somewhat.

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I don't straighten my right leg and I have no issue driving the ball.
Most of those pictures CLEARLY show flex in their knees, Hogan never told ya to straighten it, IIRC it was more along the lines of loading it, using it as a brace to resist against( which I find useful btw)....last but not least most of these guys know just a smidge more than a 15 handicap.

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I don't straighten my right leg and I have no issue driving the ball.

So, at your current handicap level, you have no driver issues? What issues do you have?

I outdrove my playing partners on every hole yesterday, but still almost put one OB on #10 (so close to the fence I had to pitch it one handed back to the fairway) and put that ball into the water three holes later. We all got issues.

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the only way your knee doesn't flex is if you are not bi-pedal or you have some funky motion in your swing that is not very consistant with other swing teachings. To men hogan was a man who created the modern swing that was built around ball striking. which meant eliminating the polar sides of golf, left and right, he espeically blocked the left. He hated a hook. So it would be good idea that he would not like to see much in the ways of extreme movements in the swing, and to him he probably thought a complete straightening of the leg was not good, it isn't. But he probably knew as well as many golfers when you need to fix a problem you must over exagerate the fix to get it right. Its the way golf is, so for him in his book he would tell you not to have your leg straighten at all, but its not a litteral translation its a swing thought to keep your legs under control. If you fight a natural motion in the golf swing you are going to fight the golf swing it self.

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I don't straighten my right leg and I have no issue driving the ball.

You're a 20. You have issues, and this isn't just a driver issue at all.

Most of those pictures CLEARLY show flex in their knees, Hogan never told ya to straighten it, IIRC it was more along the lines of loading it, using it as a brace to resist against( which I find useful btw)....last but not least most of these guys know just a smidge more than a 15 handicap.

You need to read the earlier posts wherein "straighten" was defined several times. Nobody said "lock the knee." Many specifically said NOT lock the knee. Hogan "straightened" the right leg on his backswing. He didn't lock it, but he straightened it.

and to him he probably thought a complete straightening of the leg was not good, it isn't.

What are you talking about? Hogan straightened his right leg on the backswing.

To everyone, READ THE THREAD. "Straighten" = "Decrease flex; make straighter". It does NOT mean "make perfectly straight; lock out." Again:

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After reading through 10 pages of point-counter point on this, I'm wondering why it even matters. Straighten a little, straighten a lot, don't straighten, what does it matter as long as you don't shift your weight to the outside of your back foot. The back foot has to be braced, period.

Makes me wonder whether the OP was really interested in anything except bad-mouthing Kostis and Faldo (a common occurence here).

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After reading through 10 pages of point-counter point on this, I'm wondering why it even matters. Straighten a little, straighten a lot, don't straighten, what does it matter as long as you don't shift your weight to the outside of your back foot. The back foot has to be braced, period.

Well, you certainly don't want to lock it, and you certainly don't want to maintain the exact same flex. I think the OP just thought Kostis and Faldo were saying you had to keep the exact same amount of flex through the whole swing, which just isn't true. Odds are, these two know a thing or two about the golf swing.

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Well, you certainly don't want to lock it, and you certainly don't want to maintain the exact same flex. I think the OP just thought Kostis and Faldo were saying you had to keep the exact same amount of flex through the whole swing, which just isn't true. Odds are, these two know a thing or two about the golf swing.

If the quotes of Kostis and Faldo used in the original post had said that, I would agree. But they don't. Kostis says maintain some flex, Faldo says to keep the knee solid. Both are good advice, especially for those who don't stay balanced and lose their weight to the outside of their back foot. That's the killer move, in my opinion. It takes some real athletic ability to get back centered over the ball on your downswing if your weight gets outside your back foot.

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After reading through 10 pages of point-counter point on this, I'm wondering why it even matters. Straighten a little, straighten a lot, don't straighten, what does it matter as long as you don't shift your weight to the outside of your back foot. The back foot has to be braced, period.

Why it matters? Try turning your hips 45º without the right knee straightening. Can't do it? Because it is impossible. Not straightening the right knee prevents the hips from turning properly. As demonstrated by Erik in the video below. It also force you to move the body back on the backswing, something very few good players does, and those that do, are able to get it back forward again on the downswing.

Makes me wonder whether the OP was really interested in anything except bad-mouthing Kostis and Faldo (a common occurence here).

I couldn't care less about Kostis and Faldo, I just don't apprechiate them giving people bad advice. This forum is about learning how to play golf, straightening the right knee is a part of that.

Well, you certainly don't want to lock it, and you certainly don't want to maintain the exact same flex. I think the OP just thought Kostis and Faldo were saying you had to keep the exact same amount of flex through the whole swing, which just isn't true. Odds are, these two know a thing or two about the golf swing.

If the quotes of Kostis and Faldo used in the original post had said that, I would agree. But they don't. Kostis says maintain some flex, Faldo says to keep the knee solid. Both are good advice, especially for those who don't stay balanced and lose their weight to the outside of their back foot. That's the killer move, in my opinion. It takes some real athletic ability to get back centered over the ball on your downswing if your weight gets outside your back foot.

Who says you should move the body back, away from the target? That is when the problem happens. If your body stays centered, you won't get the weight on the outside of the back foot. In fact, doing what Faldo and Kostis perscribes is the perfect way to get the weight over to the outside of the back foot. Just look at the pictures below. If you maintain the flex in the back knee, you have to turn the entire body over that knee, which means shifting it back over the back foot. If you keep your centers still, and straighten the back knee, there is no way you can get the weight to the outside of the back foot. You will have moved less weight to the back foot.

If you were to look at 99% of the golfers in this world, people shooting 90-110 a round. You can be sure that something most (99.9999%) high handicappers have in common is that they shift the weight back on the backswing and never get it forward on the downswing. Some say you should rotate the body back over the back foot, and from there just turn and unwind. Well, could someone please demonstrate to me how on earth that is possible and at the same time get the bottom of the swing 4 inches in front of the ball, like everyone on the PGA Tour does?

Source: Paul Casey and Peter Kostis 3 Top of the backs swing See how I've retained the flex in my right knee and a release of my left knee has allowed the left thigh to move behind the ball. This is a classic power position. Jack Nicklaus used to move his left knee back even more than this. It helps me to get ready for the transition to the downswing.

Source: Nick Faldo Simply swing back, keeping your right leg as solid as you can, loading your weight onto the right side.

Source: Nick Faldo To do this successfully you will need (a) to swing very smoothly, building up momentum gradually and (b) to support the turning motion with a firmly flexed right knee and thigh, absorbing the full weight on the ball of the foot.

Some pictures. Upper left: Real nice position there...not. Almost no hip turn because the has restricted the right knee. Upper right: Paul Casey, a student of Kostis. He don't straighten the right knee enough. His left heel comes off the ground on the backswing because he is turning around the right knee, and his impact position is not pretty. Middle left: Nick Faldo demonstrating the proper backswing where the right knee stays flexed. Does anyone really think that looks good? Lower left: Luke Donald, again a player that does not straighten the right knee enough, so the right foot comes off the ground too early. Lower right: Again, a terrible position there. You have to shift the entire body all the way over to the left side again. See how many Tour pros you can find doing that. The golf swing is all about getting the club from the address position and back to impact position, with the highest possible club head speed, a forward swing bottom and forward leaning shaft at impact. The body is not a spring, you can't wound it up and let it magically bounce back. The muscles stretch, but there is no way they will unwind with enough speed to hit a golf ball. The kinetic sequence is far more valid. Legs pulling hips, hips pulling torso, torso pulling arms, arms pulling hands, hands pulling club. There are two ways to do a backswing without straightening the right knee. One is to prevent the hips from turning, which Kostis showed above here. The other is to rotate the body around and over the right knee, showed by Faldo. If we look at the Tour players, how many do any of the things those two tells us to?

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That is also why Faldo couldnt play that good, he became shorter and shorter and less athletic and dynamic.
People in golf (guru´s/instructors) are trying to solve the golfers fears, and the idea is to avoid faulty minds that cant play good under pressure.

Instead of looking at what works.

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That is also why Faldo couldnt play that good, he became shorter and shorter and less athletic and dynamic.

To be clear - Nick Faldo didn't always swing the way he prescribes you swing now.

I made this picture for another reason entirely but you'll see what I mean: Nick's right knee straightens on the backswing. His spine remains fairly vertical from this view throughout the backswing, and he probably has the sensation of favoring his left side. Compare that to the picture Zeph posted of the Golf Channel logo. This one's also good: The image on the right is a big part of the reason why he hit the ball farther and higher in his good days. It's simply a biological and anatomical fact that in order to turn your hips, your right knee straightens relative to your left knee (you could turn your hips a little by only increasing the flex in the left knee, but that'd be bad). My video demonstrates this. I take an extreme position to make the flex in the knees more obvious, but you can see how much I can turn my shoulders and hips when the knee is flexed versus straightened. If an instructor tells you not to LOCK the right knee, I'd agree with him. But if they say anything that could be misread as or which actually says to maintain the same flex in the right knee, that's no good. And again, it's not an S&T; move. The Arnold Palmer picture is a great one.

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Note: This thread is 1963 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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