Jack Nicklaus explains how your feet are holding back your swing

Jack Nicklaus breaks down how to fix up your feet throughout your golf swing.

One of the most common misconceptions about the golf swing is the importance of the lower body. Sure, your upper body is doing the hard work — striking the ball and pulling the club through the different levers of the swing — but your lower body makes up a series of major swing components, from hip turn to the focus in today’s Flashback Jack, foot action.

Your feet might be the least of your worries now, but by focusing on a few small tweaks in your heels and toes, you can help activate your lower body throughout your swing.

“Foot action determines so many things within the golf swing that it’s almost indescribable,” Jack Nicklaus says. “Balance, timing, tempo, rhythm, all the things are necessary to be able to do all the other things you need to do on the golf swing.”

But, as Nicklaus points out, different shots require different foot action. Whereas some clubs require a great deal of movement, a wedge shot will often require very little adjustment.

jack nicklaus at 1980 U.S. Open
What it’s like rewatching a Jack Nicklaus U.S. Open win with … Jack Nicklaus
By: Michael Bamberger

“This is a pitching wedge,” Nicklaus says. “And with a pitching wedge, my heels will pretty much remain on the ground and my right heel will come off the ground just a bit at the finish.”

The same can’t be said for a long iron or wood, which has a longer shaft and requires the golfer to create more movement to achieve the desired result.

“With a 5-iron, you’ll notice that my swing is a little bit longer,” Nicklaus says. “My stance is a little bit wider and my left heel will get pulled off the ground with the swing and my right foot with my follow-through.”

And if you’re looking for the proper action off the tee, trust your instincts: a long drive requires a lot of foot movement.

“With a driver, this is about as far as your heel should get pulled off the ground,” he says.

Don’t just take Nicklaus’ word for it, begin paying attention to how your feet move throughout your swing. If you’re searching for answers to your game, it’s a good idea to start listening to what your feet are saying.

“Understanding foot action can be a really big help to you,” Nicklaus says.


James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.