Straight Right Leg in Golf Swing (Right or Wrong?)

Golf instruction can be confusing.  We understand your pain and frustration with the many different pieces of advice that you often hear or receive!  

Here at golfjourney365, we attempt to provide insight into many of the common golf tips over the years.

I understand that the golf tips can be oftentimes different from one instructor to the next.  Here, I try to give you the benefits of each movement that is often recommended. 

Today, I dive into the straight right leg approach in the golf swing.

A great deal of time has been spent lately on the legs in the golf swing.  

We have seen an increase in distance on tour in the last decade that has been quite impressive and many golf instructors would give credit to the use of the legs and the ground forces to produce more speed, resulting in longer drives from the increased speed.

Every golfer wants more speed and distance, resulting in shorter clubs into greens, which leaves us with shorter putts and a better chance to make the putt.

The analytics on distance don’t lie and distance is vital, that is why it is important to understand the benefits of the straight right leg in golf.

The golf swing has many possible variations, check out the benefits of a straight right leg below.

Should I have A Straight Right Leg in My Golf Swing?

Yes, the straight right leg in the golf swing, specifically at the top of the golf swing, can provide a significant increase in the ability to turn and increase your range of motion on the backswing, resulting in potential additional speed in the downswing.

I would recommend this approach in the golf swing and say it is the right way to swing based on the benefits below.  

Teachings of the Past – Wrong Approach!

I believe we have moved past the X Factor approach to swinging a golf club, which is where the shoulders turned, but the lower body stayed stable with the thought process of creating more resistance in the back swing to produce more speed. 

The right knee was recommended to stay flexed so the golfer could push off of this leg.  I believe this could be difficult on the back and the timing takes many repetitions.

5 Benefits of the Straight Right Leg in the Golf Swing:

  • Increase in hip rotation
  • Increase in shoulder turn
  • Increase in swing speed
  • Increase in the ability to swing freely without restrictions
  • Increase in the ability to use ground forces

In every section, I will highlight the former method based on the X Factor and then talk about the new learning.  Much of the new learning is actually based on studying the swings of the greatest golfers of all time including: Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Jack NIcklaus, and Bobby Jones.

When many people started studying these swings they noticed a more free flowing swing that had a straight right knee at the top of the backswing with plenty of rotation in the hips and shoulders! 

My favorite golf instructors including Shawn Clement, Mike Malaska, George Gankas and the Stack and Tilt Instructors all promote a free flowing, complete turn in the backswing to let the swing flow and to maximize speed and distance!

Benefit #1: Increase in Hip Rotation

The X factor swing would have the golfer restrict the hip movement.  I remember tying to swing like this and struggling to generate speed or constituency. 

Once I discovered the Stack and Tilt learnings and teaching, I realized the importance of having a quality hip turn.  The swing became much easier to replicate and the compression of the ball increased significantly!

The straightening of the right leg in the backswing, allows the hips to rotate fully and generate speed in the downswing.  It used to require plenty of flexibility to complete the turn with the X factor approach, but now the golfer is able to get a complete turn regardless of mobility! 

This free flowing approach and full turn back can be seen in the greatest of all time.

Check out the hip turn by Ben Hogan below:

Benefit #2: Increase in Shoulder Turn

The previous method would have the golfer try to turn the shoulder against the hips.  As previously discussed, this took a lot of flexibility and core strength to complete successfully. 

The golfer would try to turn over a flex back leg and get the front shoulder over the back leg.  It hurts to even think about this move!  And then the golfer was somehow going to make an athletic move from that position? 

Wow, I wish I knew of the awesome teachers mentioned previously prior to about 5-10 years ago!

Instead, with the straightening of the right leg, the golfer can turn the shoulders and hips behind the ball.  It no longer takes incredible flexibility or core strength to make the “newer” move.  C

Check out this Sam Snead video to understand the full turn in the backswing with both the tips and the shoulders:

One thing to point out is the motion of the front leg.  Watch how the left leg or front leg flexes in the backswing.  This can create some incredible speed with the legs working in collaboration like Mr. Sneed does. Truly a swing to replicate even if simply just the full turn and flowing nature of the swing!

Benefit #3: Increase in Swing Speed

The X Factor swing had the right intentions and it made sense at the time.  The restriction by the lower body would help the shoulders swing fast and the arms and club would then fly through the hitting zone. 

If you were flexible enough to make this happen, you could have a great swing with impressive speed.  However, for the majority of golfers, it was a difficult swing.

By completing a full turn and straightening the right leg you are creating space.  This space provides the opportunity to generate speed.  Without a full turn, a golfer limits his or her ability to generate speed, simply by reducing the time gravity has to take over!

There are many ways to create speed, but it starts with the full swing.  I would also highly recommend training for speed through the SuperSpeed Golf Training System.  This system can help you see an increase of 5-8% in swing speed as early as the first training session.

Check out our full review of SuperSpeed Golf here.

Check out Brandel Chamblee talk about a full turn and utilize space:

Benefit #4: Increase in the ability to swing freely without restrictions

The X Factor had golfers trying to get to certain positions and thinking about moving portions of the body here or keeping certain other parts in place.  This can lead to an unathletic swing.

The quality instructors of today such as Mike Malaska and Shawn Clement allow you to make an athletic move at the ball.  One free of limitations and worry about the positions of your arms, shoulders or hips in certain places. 

Instead, you take a full swing with a full turn back and through and worry about your target or directing the momentum of the club.  It is a free flowing motion that allows your athletic ability to take over.

The Brandel Chamblee approach to the golf swing is based on the studies of the movements made by the greatest golfers of all time.  He used to swing his club using this approach, but was shaped into the X Factor type of swing as he entered the PGA Tour. 

The free swinging approach helps you utilize the athletic ability you have and maximize your distance!

Here is a video of Shawn Clement discussing the new approach to teaching:

Benefit #5: Increase in the ability to use ground forces

The previous approach to golf, had a golfer with two bent legs.  From this position, it is difficult to get a quality push from the ground as the legs are already flexed.  Think of a basketball player for a second, they start with straight legs, go down to a flex position and then spring up when jumping or shooting.  

The golf swing is similar. You can extend in your backswing, flex in the early parts of the downswing and use those forces to spring up, resulting in impressive speed.  Check out the Sam Snead video below for the slight squat that happens early in the downswing. 

While the right knee straightens by the top of the backswing, it will flex early in the downswing.  You can practice this by taking a driving range basket and putting it between your thighs and dropping it early in the downswing.

This will help you activate ground forces and straighten and flex your knees for maximum speed!

The Sam Snead Squat Move:

Final Thoughts: Straight Right Leg in Golf Swing (Right or Wrong?)

While there aren’t necessarily right or wrong movements in the golf swing, the moment of truth ultimately is what happens at impact.  As we have seen in our post on the weirdest swings of all time there are a lot of different ways to get to impact.  There are movements that work for a higher percentage of golfers.  

I wish I had a greater understanding of these movements during my junior playing career.  Today we are fortunate to have awesome access to the top instructors in the world and much effort has been put into studying the greatest swings of all time and truly finding out what was taking place!

For the majority of amateurs, a free flowing swing that involves a straight right leg at the top of the swing, will give you the benefits listed above. 

Make sure you check out the videos above to grow your knowledge of the game and SuperSpeed Golf if you want some extra distance. Here are some great online instructors that come highly recommended:

Best Online Golf Instructors – Top 5

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About three years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage. 

I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

So many hours of un with a SkyTrak package from Rain or Shine Golf!

One last thing that has helped me gain significant distance is the SuperSpeed Training System.  This overspeed based system where you train every other day for about 10-15 minutes with different swing sticks can help you increase your swing speed by 5-8% which can be 20-30 yards.  Who wouldn’t want an extra 20-30 yards.  Plus it helps improve your mechanics.

SuperSpeed Golf – Use Discount Code Golfjourney365 for some savings!

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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