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Chamblee: Lift your Lead Heel


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Ran across this article today while browsing golf.com (mistake, I know), but I am curious on your thoughts. Brandel Chamblee says that the key to a good swing is lifting your lead heel off the ground, which allows you to make a full hip and shoulder turn: http://www.golf.com/instruction/brandel-chamblee-has-found-holy-grail-swing

 

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On this journey, I noticed something surprising: Almost all of the greatest players -- 99 percent of them -- make an essential swing move that's now rarely taught. In the backswing, they lift the lead heel off the ground and rotate their hips, letting the shoulders make a full, power-rich turn. From that spot, they're perfectly positioned to hit the shots that made them legends. This freedom of movement creates time, rhythm, speed -- the keys to power and creativity in shotmaking.

 

It seems somewhat similar to part of key #1 - a full turn in the backswing. I'm just not sure the lead heel needs to lift to get that. A lot of threads and videos around here that show other ways of getting a full turn. Thoughts?

That article, by the way, has many problems (e.g., he contradicts himself about that 99% of great golfers quote later in the article, which is hilarious). But I'm really just wondering if lifting your lead heel will definitely promote a fuller turn.

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I believe that actively doing anything with your lead heel is bad.  Make the turn you need to make.  If your heel needs to come off the ground to make it happen, a la Jack Nicklaus or Bubba Watson, then so be it.  If your heel doesn't, like Rory or a lot of other younger guys, then that's fine too.

Actually TRYING to lift it (or not lift it) seems like more thoughts and more moving parts than necessary.

Disclaimer:  I'm not an instructor and MAY be talking out of my butt. :-P

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18 minutes ago, Golfingdad said:

I believe that actively doing anything with your lead heel is bad.  Make the turn you need to make.  If your heel needs to come off the ground to make it happen, a la Jack Nicklaus or Bubba Watson, then so be it.  If your heel doesn't, like Rory or a lot of other younger guys, then that's fine too.

Actually TRYING to lift it (or not lift it) seems like more thoughts and more moving parts than necessary.

Disclaimer:  I'm not an instructor and MAY be talking out of my butt. :-P

I agree with this. The article will have lots of people lifting their heels for no reason and still not making full turns. Not going to help unless they know how to make a full turn regardless of what the front heel is doing.

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I would say the majority of golfers tend to be in the heel on the ground club. I rarely see golfers today lift that lead heel. If it works then no need to change it. To Brandel, not a key. 

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2 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

I believe that actively doing anything with your lead heel is bad.  Make the turn you need to make.  If your heel needs to come off the ground to make it happen, a la Jack Nicklaus or Bubba Watson, then so be it.  If your heel doesn't, like Rory or a lot of other younger guys, then that's fine too.

Actually TRYING to lift it (or not lift it) seems like more thoughts and more moving parts than necessary.

Disclaimer:  I'm not an instructor and MAY be talking out of my butt. :-P

I think your talking within the realm of your butt.

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1 hour ago, saevel25 said:

I would say the majority of golfers tend to be in the heel on the ground club. I rarely see golfers today lift that lead heel. If it works then no need to change it. To Brandel, not a key. 

I agree with this as keeping the heel on the ground. However, as I look through some of the older pics, like Jack Nicholaus back in his hey day.... It appears that he and lot of others back then had that lead heel coming off the ground. Not sure... Could it be a style thing? Old school, maybe? (Shrug)

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1 hour ago, Dave325 said:

 Not sure... Could it be a style thing? Old school, maybe? (Shrug)

Generally, yea. It's an old vs new school thing. There have been and still are exceptions (Ben Hogan, Bubba Watson).

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Too hard to maintain IMO. Maybe you can squeeze a few more MPH out of the driver but when does one stop lifting? 3 iron? 7 iron? edge? I see too many folks swinging out of their shoes with a mid/short iron as it is.

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5 hours ago, Golfingdad said:

I believe that actively doing anything with your lead heel is bad.  Make the turn you need to make.  If your heel needs to come off the ground to make it happen, a la Jack Nicklaus or Bubba Watson, then so be it.  If your heel doesn't, like Rory or a lot of other younger guys, then that's fine too.

Actually TRYING to lift it (or not lift it) seems like more thoughts and more moving parts than necessary.

I think that's well said.

Maybe closer to being a key would be a soft / unweighted / unpressured lead leg that enables / does not restrict a full hip & shoulder turn.

Hogan said he didn't think about the heel lifting, it just happened as he made his turn and the pressure / weight shifted off the lead leg and foot. His '5 Lessons' swing had much less heel lift with the long clubs than earlier swings, but it was still there.

4 hours ago, jbishop15 said:

I agree with the idea of bigger shoulder and hip turn, but it can be done with or without lifting the front heel.

If you are really flexible and can turn your shoulders over 90 degrees without lifting your lead heel more power to you. IMO most of us are not that flexible in the mid-section and big muscles connected to the hips. But I agree that it's incidental to what is happening with the turn rather than a cause. I think Brandel means that you should allow the heel to lift if holding it down to promote stability is limiting your turn from muscle resistance.

1 hour ago, billchao said:

Generally, yea. It's an old vs new school thing. There have been and still are exceptions (Ben Hogan, Bubba Watson).

Do you mean Hogan was an exception to 'old school' heel lifting and Bubba is an exception to 'new school' heel down?

Hogan lifted with all his long club swings - just that it was very small and hard to spot (only really evident with driver and woods) in the swing he used after Power Golf.

 

Best example at 1:30:

 

I think Chamblee favors this swing for its power:

 

Edited by natureboy
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I am a little hesitant in weighing in on this topic, so suffice to say, I will only relate to the topic as to how it pertains to my swing now compared with one of years past.  Many years, ago (decades actually), I had a fairly upright swing to the point I was parallel or even past parallel at the top. I do recall my heel lifting and the feeling was (at the time) a natural occurance (for me) as in the lift/turn motion sort of pulled the lead heel up. (I probably was coming off center then also). I have read that for some people, they actually "push off" with the lead foot.  Now years later, my swing is much flatter, and I seldom get to parallel.   Sometimes, I intentionally go with a more upright swing and the resultant heel lift quite effectively when my timing is really good, BUT, more often than not, if I give conscious thought to it, it results in a train wreck.  When my timing is correct, my lead knee goes towards the ball and in but it is a "natural" feeling, if my heel comes up, fine, but it is not intentional.   FWIW, I have also observed in a mirror, that I can get to parallel more or less flat footed quite easily. (not withstanding, that being parallel is not something I strive to do and not  important. I simply strive to maintain connection, to wit, the towel across the chest, or glove/tee in the arm pits drills.  For me, timing and wrist cock/release are more important factors relating to power. Sometimes "I wish I did not know now, what I did not know then". 

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1 hour ago, natureboy said:

I think that's well said.

Maybe closer to being a key would be a soft / unweighted / unpressured lead leg that enables / does not restrict a full hip & shoulder turn.

Actually I think feeling more pressure on the lead foot leads to a better center pivot, less sway, and more turn. I don't see it restricting turn. 

1 hour ago, natureboy said:

Hogan said he didn't think about the heel lifting, it just happened as he made his turn and the pressure / weight shifted off the lead leg and foot. His '5 Lessons' swing had much less heel lift with the long clubs than earlier swings, but it was still there.

I do agree that if something happens in the swing naturally and is not a detriment to the swing then don't change it. 

1 hour ago, natureboy said:

If you are really flexible and can turn your shoulders over 90 degrees without lifting your lead heel more power to you. IMO most of us are not that flexible in the mid-section and big muscles connected to the hips. But I agree that it's incidental to what is happening with the turn rather than a cause. I think Brandel means that you should allow the heel to lift if holding it down to promote stability is limiting your turn from muscle resistance.

 

Most people can get close enough. I don't buy the lack of flexibility thrown around a lot. I think most of them just don't know how to turn correctly, not that they can't not turn. Honestly if you end up at 70 degrees then fine. Not all PGA Tour players turn to 90 degrees with their shoulders. Some turn less, some turn more. 

 

 

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I think the heel thing is just a matter of whatever is comfortable for the individual player, so long as it's not sliding all over the place in the process of lifting. I personally don't lift my heel, but that's just because I don't feel the need to. It doesn't come up when I swing, but I don't make a point of keeping it planted or trying to lift it.

I think the big reason that advice like this is given is so that people make a proper weight transfer. If you lift your heel you're naturally going to put the weight onto your other foot, unless you are specifically trying to keep the distribution of weight between your feet even. By lifting, and then planting, your heel you could end up more easily transferring the weight back before moving it forwards again.

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I have recently taken up golf again after about a 45 year gap. When i first learnt (aged about 15) lifting the left heal was how I  learnt. Coming back to golf after all those years I still do it by nature - but apart from assisting in helping turning in the back swing the planting back of the foot is one of the main trigures (at least I think so for me) in initiating the down swing. 

Edited by NDavis
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The only thing that confuses me is, I guess, whose "side" is he on? It's not the new school, Trackman-and-video-using guys that promote a limited hip turn, it's older guys like Jim McLean. 

So, at the risk of oversimplification, whose side is he on?

My only other thought is that he's chasing the symptom, not the cause. The heel doesn't lift because the golfer is thinking "life left heel, LIFT!!" it lifts because you've made a big hip turn and you don't have the flexibility for it to stay on the ground. It's the hip turn you should be after, not the heel lift.

Though, I suppose, it's easier to look at someone on video and notice that their heel has lifted than it is to notice that their hips have rotated X degrees.

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17 hours ago, saevel25 said:

Actually I think feeling more pressure on the lead foot leads to a better center pivot, less sway, and more turn. I don't see it restricting turn. 

Not understanding this. Feeling more pressure on lead foot relative to address when...during forward press, during backswing, at top of swing?

The image I have in my mind of your description is sort of like the vid below (without the dropped rear foot position). In terms of the relative pressuring of the legs is that what you are talking about?

 

 

I've found this to be a great drill and used it often. Clearly from Ernest Jones' experience it can work and isn't a limitation to great golf. IMO, though you can get a slightly faster hip turn as a base for pulling the shoulders if you load into the rear leg on the backswing. If you do that well and still stay 'centered' enough it should create a bit more potential power. The tradeoff on power vs. accuracy between the two styles might be somewhat specific to the individual golfer's good / bad tendencies.

 

 

 

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On January 22, 2016 at 4:52 PM, Golfingdad said:

I believe that actively doing anything with your lead heel is bad.  Make the turn you need to make.  If your heel needs to come off the ground to make it happen, a la Jack Nicklaus or Bubba Watson, then so be it.  If your heel doesn't, like Rory or a lot of other younger guys, then that's fine too.

Actually TRYING to lift it (or not lift it) seems like more thoughts and more moving parts than necessary.

Disclaimer:  I'm not an instructor and MAY be talking out of my butt. :-P

Very true.  I have found that my flexibility is good enough to not have to lift it at all. 

But for those of you looking for further verification, here is a quote directly from Hogan's Five Fundamentals: 

"Let me caution you against lifting the left heel too high off the ground during the backswing. If the heel stays on the ground--fine.  If it comes one inch off the ground--fine.  No higher than that, though.  It will only lead to faulty balance and other undesirable complications."

Bubba is his own breed of golfer, and wouldn't use him as an example of this.

 

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3 hours ago, TheDIYGolfer said:

Very true.  I have found that my flexibility is good enough to not have to lift it at all. 

But for those of you looking for further verification, here is a quote directly from Hogan's Five Fundamentals: 

"Let me caution you against lifting the left heel too high off the ground during the backswing. If the heel stays on the ground--fine.  If it comes one inch off the ground--fine.  No higher than that, though.  It will only lead to faulty balance and other undesirable complications."

Bubba is his own breed of golfer, and wouldn't use him as an example of this.

I think it could depend how you deal mentally with the tradeoff between some extra distance and a bit more waywardness that may come with it. Hogan was highly competitive and could be seen as a bit of a control enthusiast and when in the mix a loose shot may have caused him intense anguish.

He won about 15 PGA individual medal events in 1946 & 1947 lifting his lead heel very high, including his first major. Probably a couple loose shots in tournaments in 1947 got under his skin in a way that Bubba may just shrug off. Without strokes gained analysis Hogan may not have appreciated the way his distance relative to the field with the high heel lift swing offset the occasional hook into trouble.

When Hogan used his new '5 Lessons' swing in 1948 he won 9 times - but only 1.5 events more than the average haul of the prior two years. But he nabbed two majors, including the U.S. Open, which is an event that tends to put a big premium on tee shots in the fairway. Bubba tends not to do as well on those setups as at the Masters (avg of ~ 27 places different) which is a bit more open off the tee.

Hogan may have found a shift in approach that worked best for his approach, temperament, swing tendencies, and goals - an optimum balance between distance / accuracy / consistency. I think he did say he had to practice less with the '5 Lessons Swing', but he had already put in a ton of time grooving a powerful pivot and 'educating' his hands.

But both swings earned him a bunch of trophies and medals.

Edited by natureboy
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Note: This thread is 1856 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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