ORLANDO, Fla. – Down with duck feet!
That was the message of the anti-duck man, a.k.a. Mark Verstegen, at the World Golf Fitness Summit.
Although many golf instructors tell their students to flare one or both feet outward at address, Verstegen believes this creates a power leak.
And he is backed by a measure of support among fitness experts. Pete Egoscue, who has advised and trained Jack Nicklaus, among others, has said the same thing. So has golf instructor Roger Fredericks, known as one of the world’s foremost authorities on stretching.
Still, it pays to be careful.
Some golfers, because of physical limitations, cannot play with their feet aimed straight ahead (at a 90-degree angle to the target line). They cannot rotate their bodies without turning their feet outward at address.
Others are simply not comfortable following Verstegen’s philosophy, which he outlined Friday during the three-day Summit at the JW Marriott Orlando Grand Lakes.
Here is Verstegen, who is founder of the network of Athletes’ Performance sports training centers: “With your feet turned out, you are robbing yourself of the potential for hip speed. You are limiting your ability to store energy in the powerful muscles of the glutes and hamstrings.”
“If your feet are already maximally out, you’ve taken the range of motion out of the hip. It’s like being at the end of a stretch. It goes no farther.
“It has everything to do with the pelvis and how you create and store energy.”
Verstegen and other trainers talk endlessly about kinetic linking, in which different parts of the body work together effectively to deliver energy and power to designated athletic tasks.
In an ideal world, perhaps all golfers would avoid duck feet at address and would keep both feet flat on the ground at impact.
In the real world, though, golf instructors seem to be more realistic than trainers. Peter Kostis, talking about workout fanatic Paul Casey, one of his students, said very seriously, “Every golfer, including Paul, has to earn the right to keep his left heel down (at impact). You have to learn to play with the left heel up before you learn to play with the left heel down.”
Kostis was referring to balance and symmetry during the swing.
The role of the feet in the golf swing has become something of a preoccupation in modern golf. While nobody argues about the need for proper footwork, there is plenty of dispute about how to achieve this.
The anti-duck man has one idea, and we can be reasonably certain the Aflac duck (scoop: this duck can play) has another.