Even good golfers with sound, grooved swings come untracked now and then, especially if they lose the flex in the back leg trying for distance. If you stiffen your back leg during the backswing, your body will likely tilt out of balance, making it tough to re-flex the knee just the right amount in time for impact. If you can play some great golf, but consistency is your problem, it might be that you need a dose of Special K. Here’s how it works.
At address, the Special K is the angle formed in your back leg by the upper and lower leg. The manner in which you stand to the ball determines in large part how well you maintain your Special K during your swing.
The best advice is to establish an athletic, ready-to-move setup. Create this posture by bending forward from the hip sockets and back from the knees. When your back leg is flexed correctly, it creates room for your arms to swing and aligns the joints one on top of the other. You should be able to draw a line from the top of the spine through the tip of the elbow and then from the tip of your knee down through the ball joint of your foot.
Keeping The K
To keep your swing level, this angle should be maintained from address to just after impact. A good way to experience what it feels like to keep the Special K while you swing is to look in a mirror while you take practice swings. Start with the setup position shown in the photo at right. Hold it steady, then look in the mirror to connect the sight and feel of the correct back-leg flex for that position. Next, swing to the top. Again, hold that position and use the mirror to see if you maintained the angle in your back leg.
Another good learning method is to practice swinging with a shaft placed in the ground and angled to match the slant of your upper leg. You won’t be able to see the shaft while you swing, but you’ll sense that it’s there, and that will help you maintain your Special K.
Once you establish the Special K at address, your goal is to maintain it all the way through your swing until after the ball has been launched. In order to do so, you’ll have to start your swing by shifting your weight into your trailing hip so you can make a level lower body turn. If you fail to make this crucial weight transfer, your trailing hip will likely float upward and destroy your Special K.
A second key occurs as you start back down to the ball. Here, establish your front hip as the rotational center of your swing. By focusing on the right hip, you’ll better prepare it to receive your forward weight shift and also allow you to maintain your back leg flex through the impact area and beyond.
In the Special-K setup, the body has that athletic look common to many sports–a posture ready for action. At address, flex your back knee to discourage any up-and-down body motion while you swing. If you prepare yourself correctly, you won’t have to make any adjustments once your swing begins–all you have to do is rotate. Check your lower leg to make sure that it’s straight up and down (note that the crease in my pant leg is vertical). When the crease points toward the shaft, you know your lower leg is slanted at a bad angle. The reason the Special-K position is so important is that it unlocks the hips so they’re free to rotate. When the back leg locks and straightens at the knee, the back hip freezes, causing the body to tilt rather than turn._Ê
When you keep the Special-K position during your backswing, it allows your elbows to stay level near the top of your swing. This, in turn, keeps the clubface from twisting out of position. Staying in your K makes your backswing more rounded and, instead of elevating the clubhead suddenly and tearing it off of its swing arc, the clubshaft travels on the correct swing path with a gradual, power-gathering ascent of the club.
Notice how just before impact, the lead hand is below the waist, yet the trailing elbow is still folded at a near-90-degree angle. This retains the power until the last moment and is possible only from the Special-K position.
Through impact, the trailing arm snaps straight, releasing power into the ball as the back knee kicks toward the target, still in its Special-K flex. Just after impact, both arms are straight, with the clubhead below the hands and the butt of the club pointing toward the middle of the body.
PGA teaching professional Dr. T.J. Tomasi is regarded as one of the top 100 instructors in America. He is the director of instruction at Lyman Orchards GC in Middlefield, Conn.