It’s a popular conversation these days; using the ground. Most people probably read that and think, “what does that even mean?” It’s a concept that’s only recently been understood because of modern technology, but players have been using the idea for years to gain extra distance.
Even if you don’t understand what I mean right now, you’ve already used the trick in some way before. Let’s start off by explaining what it means to use the ground.
What Does Using Ground Force Mean?
Whoever first taught you how to play golf probably never started by telling you to use the ground. It’s not exactly a basic fundamental, but it is something that can be better utilized by golfers of all skill levels.
Now, picture yourself standing over the golf ball ready to swing. Using the ground doesn’t mean that your feet are on the ground, though that’s a great place to start.
Let’s say you weigh 150 pounds. Your feet are exerting 150 pounds of pressure on the ground at address. As you take the club back, maybe your weight shifts slightly to the back foot, maybe it stays fairly stable over the center of your stance. At the top of your backswing, you’re probably still putting 150 pounds of pressure on the ground.
The downswing is where using the ground begins. For the best players in the world who hit the ball the farthest, they find a way to exert more than their body weight on the ground through impact. They do this by creating a slight up and down movement in their swing; the up part coming through the downswing.
Think about when you were a kid and jumping on a trampoline. When you would jump, every time you landed, the pressure you’re putting on the trampoline would be more than your body weight because of the up and down movement and gravity pulling you down towards the earth.
It’s the same in using the ground in your golf swing except, normally, your feet don’t come off the ground in the backswing. Using the ground is almost as if you’re pushing against the ground in order to gain more club head speed and more power at impact. This process leads to more distance, especially off the tee.
Why Is It Important to use the Ground?
Using the ground is an important concept because it can give you more distance. As the saying goes, “drive for show and putt for dough,” but distance is becoming more and more important in today’s game.
Sure, putting is still important. You need to get the ball in the hole in order to play well, but with advances in technology players are hitting the ball farther and farther.
If you’re not gaining distance too, you’re falling behind. Not to mention, if you hit the ball farther, you’ll be hitting shorter, more consistent and easy to hit clubs, into greens instead of long irons. This will almost automatically lead to improved putting because you’ll have shorter putts.
If you look at all the top players in the world, every one of them is using this idea to hit the ball far. If they don’t take advantage of this, then they’ll get lapped by everyone else.
How To Use Ground Forces in the Golf Swing
That’s great, right? Hopefully I’ve convinced you to try using the ground more, because you really should.
Now, let’s talk about how to actually do this.
First, let’s talk about something that’s taught by a lot of teachers; keeping your head still. You’ve probably heard that too.
Basically, the idea is that if you keep your head still, especially through the backswing, it’ll make it easier to make good contact. That’s definitely true. It’s kind of like a pendulum. If you keep the fixed point (your head) in the same place the whole time, your moving point (the club) will return to the same place it started (impact). That’s all very true. If you’re looking for more consistency and don’t need to add distance, then that’s a great idea to incorporate into your game. That being said, if you want distance, which most people do, you may have to stray away for this a bit.
Think back to the trampoline example, in order to put more pressure on the ground, your head has to go up and down (jumping). So, to start putting more pressure on the ground through the downswing, you have to dip your head down a bit in the backswing.
Be sure to not overdo this though, because you can do it so much that your consistency drops. Not only do you need to drop your head a bit, but you’ll want to make sure you shift your weight to your back foot.
Then, as you start the downswing, use the extra weight on the back foot to push off the ground. This will be where you are exerting more than your body weight on the ground. At the same time you do this, you’ll be lifting your head a bit to the original position.
The key to doing this properly, is making sure your weight finishes on your front foot. A lot of times, when amateur golfers try this concept, they’ll allow the pushing off of the back foot to drift them backwards. They end up falling backwards through impact, which creates the exact opposite of what they are trying to do. That falling backwards actually leads to shorter shots and more inconsistency.
Drills To Use Ground Force in Your Golf Swing
Let’s talk about some drills you can do to better feel this concept and incorporate it into your golf swing.
Foot Against Wall Drill
This is a drill you can do in your home without a golf club. In fact, that’s preferred, so you don’t break anything.
- Wedge the outside of your back foot against a wall and address and imaginary golf ball with an imaginary golf club.
- Then, take some golf swings and practice dipping your head a bit and shifting your weight to your back foot.
- Then, on your down swing, push your foot down into the corner where the wall and floor meet.
- As you finish your golf swing, use that pushing of your foot to propel your weight forward on to your front foot and finish as you normally would.
This drill is good because you almost can’t fall backwards or you’ll hit the wall. You can also take this drill outside if you have something small and heavy to put your foot against that won’t impede your real golf swing.
Feet Together Drill
Next, this is a drill you can do on the driving range with an actual golf club.
- Set up to an actual golf ball like you normally would.
- Then, take your front foot and move it right next to your back foot, so that you’re standing with both feet together.
- Then, try hitting the ball as you step forward with that front foot. In order to do this, you’ll want to feel the pushing down of the back foot.
It’ll probably be really tough to hit the shot solidly, but if you learn to hit it well, that’ll really improve your overall hand-eye coordination as well.
This final drill is a little bit weirder, but it really helps you get the feeling. It’s not meant to be done while actually hitting a golf ball because it’ll probably mess up your swing sequence.
- Basically, take a stance without a club or ball.
- Then, make your backswing turn, focusing on dipping your head a little bit.
- As you make your downswing, push against the ground and lift your head so much that you actually jump in the air a couple inches.
- Finish the imaginary shot by balancing most of your weight on your front foot.
This is the weight transfer that you’ll want to use.
There it is; all you need to start using the ground more to gain distance on your golf shots. If you ever feel like you can’t hit the ball very far and want to catch up to your playing partners, give this a try. I think you’ll see that you’ll soon be hitting the ball farther, which leads to shorter clubs into greens and better putting.