We have finished with the waggle and we are now back to the ball firmly and comfortably settled in the address. In the ordinary course I should now take you through the upward swing, but I have so much to say about the left foot that I must rivet your attention on it while the swing is being played. In the meantime you must not worry about what is going on, and how it is being performed. You must give all the attention you can spare to the left foot, for believe me, it has been neglected and maligned and robbed in the past, and if you wish to make your game what it should be you must see that it gets justice.
The first thing that happens with the left foot in the upward swing is that the left heel leaves the ground. This does not in any way depend on the pull of the arms as is so often stated. It is not postponed until the club gets four or five feet from the ball. It starts when it is four or five inches from it, if not contemporaneously with its leaving the ball, if the stroke is played with true rhythm. The left heel continues to rise gradually and smoothly until it reaches the highest point from the earth at the top of the swing.
Now we have to consider how it rises. This may seem at first like an excess of analysis. It really is not so; and a proper understanding of it is the key, or one of the keys, to the most beautiful movement in golf, the proper loin and hip-work that is used by Harry Vardon, the finest stroke player in the world.
Quite ninety per cent. of players go wrong right here. Directly the heel rises from the ground, which quite frequently it does too late for true rhythm, they turn the foot in sideways so that the pressure is all on one side of the sole of the foot- say, roughly, on a strip an inch wide and running from the ball of the big toe to the end of the toe. In order that there may be no mistake about this, James Braid in How to Play Golf gives a diagram of the sole of the shoe showing this strip.
This is bad golf. The pressure should be right across the front part of the foot in a line with the place where the toes join the foot; in fact, on the full breadth of the forward part of the foot. There should be no idea of "pivoting" on the left big toe. This word has been responsible for a vast amount of bad golf. It is thoroughly misleading. The left foot might be nailed through the toes across in a line with the ball of the big toe for all the "pivoting" it does in the golf stroke.
The left foot does undoubtedly assist the left knee in bending in toward the ball. Mark, not "toward the right leg," as one is usually told. This however we shall deal with later. The assistance given by the left foot in this respect is of a nature that has never been correctly set out by the great golfers. It comes mainly from a side bend of the ankle and a slight twisting of the foot at and about the instep. This movement should be most carefully studied, as on its proper performance rests the soundness of one's base at the top of the swing.
We have seen now that in the upward swing the left heel leaves the ground immediately the club leaves the ball. It continues to rise as the club goes up and at the same time the ankle joint turns inwards and the instep twists over a little. While this is taking place the left foot remains firmly planted on the ground with the weight that is on it, which will be considered in due course, distributed right across the foot, which does not in any sense of the word "pivot" or change from the position it was in relative to the line of flight of the ball. In fact, so that there may be no possible misunderstanding about it, I shall say plainly that the front third of the left foot is nailed to the earth for all the movement up, down or sideways that there is in it.
I have referred to the common error of pointing the left heel toward the hole at the top of the swing. This is a fault to which all those who indulge in "pivoting" are prone. The heel should rise and fall above its original position or practically so. It will be obvious that if the movement is properly made as indicated the heel will at the top of the swing be slightly farther away from the hole than in the address, but in no case must it be turned so that it goes nearer to the hole; in fact if the front part of the foot be kept firmly and properly placed the heel also must remain in its proper position.
In the downward swing the motions here described are reversed, and at the finish the left foot is firmly planted on the ground, as in the address, and the player finishes his drive slightly across the foot. This will receive due attention in its place.