The game of golf is usually about quiet. It’s about stability. It’s about being still.
Sometimes, there also needs to be some bounce.
Steve Latimer is the head professional at Ontario Golf Club and uses bounce to solve a host of lower body issues during the backswing. There are three primary problems he sees often.
The hip sway is when a player moves the hips backward during the takeaway instead of simply rotating. The reverse shift is the opposite of the hip sway: the hips move forward on the backswing. Issue number three is straightening the right or back knee.
“Those are all… flaws that can create an unstable lower body,” Latimer says.
Interestingly, the solution for an unstable lower body is what Latimer calls the bounce drill. He tells a player to continue springing on the knees while taking the club back slowly. Perhaps at a speed a bit less than 50 percent of normal.
The over and over spring in the knees helps prevent the incorrect movements in the lower body and makes the swing, as a whole, more stable.
“I can hit really good shots from this braced right side position,” Latimer says at the top of his swing. “My body weight is braced on the inside of the right foot and I can make that good move towards the target.”
The bigger picture about creating a more stable lower body is creating a better position from which to turn forward and drive the weight through the swing. The more stability and less issues going back should equal more turn towards the target going forward.
Latimer uses a device called the Pivot Pro to check that his weight is going forward properly. The device is something that can be stepped into with the back foot. A flexible pole protrudes upward just behind the back leg and reaches the top of the hip. A Pivot Pro is a good tool to check for the lower body issues listed above.
A poor turn forward could leave a player flat footed at impact. The Pivot Pro will indicate this issue is happening because the pole will stay pointed at the sky through the swing. A proper turn forward means the back foot will rise onto the toe and the Pivot Pro will end up pointed at the target.
Latimer understands most players don’t own a Pivot Pro, but he has a solution. You can also take a ball on a range or in your back yard and step on it until it’s embedded about halfway in the ground. Rest the middle and outside of the back foot on the ball, almost using it as a base to make the swing.
If there’s a hip sway, the back foot will press down on the ball and nearly cover it. If there’s a reverse shift in the swing, the back foot will come off the ball. The goal is to maintain constant pressure on that ball throughout the swing.
This tip is something that should be honed off the golf course. It’s something a player can easily do at home, in the back yard and without a club. Trying to use this for a shot during a round or even between shots can create trouble.
“We want to ingrain this good position that we start with and have that translate into the golf course instead of hitting a bad shot and start bouncing right there,” Latimer says. “That’s not going to totally translate. You’re going to continue to revert.”
Bouncing on the knees may not improve the better golfer or the low handicap that already has a proper backswing and turn, but it can help maintain those good fundamentals.
Athletes from sports like baseball, hockey and lacrosse often have the arm/hand power and coordination to generate speed at impact without a proper full body turn. However, the lack of a proper body turn often leaves the clubface angle incorrect. This is likely why the baseball player who suddenly takes up golf walks onto the course with a big issue slicing.
“Being able to strike the ball…. with your whole body will make it go farther. It’s going to bring the dispersion much closer,” Latimer says. “Now, our stinkers are much more playable. Our good shots are more prevalent. Our distance makes it a shorter golf course.”
Latimer says the bounce drill can help players get into that proper athletic position that launches into a strong turn forward. If a player can’t reach the proper braced backswing position, it’s very difficult to end up in a proper finishing position after follow through.
“If you have an athletic lower body,” Latimer says. “You can absolutely create more speed, more solidness of contact and more distance.”
Just keep bouncing.