Exactly How to Start the Downswing

By | on May 27, 2012 | 33 Comments | Array


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Paul Wilson is the creator of Swing Machine Golf and founder of Ignition Golf. Paul's golf swing technique is based on the Iron Byron swing machine. YouTube Channels: Paul Wilson Golf and Ignition Golf Tips. Please Join me on Google+

33 Responses to “Exactly How to Start the Downswing”

  1. Great reminder Paul, I sometimes do the late straightening. It is so great having you remind us of the correct sequences. Have a great Memorial Day weekend?

    • This is very important and very few people do it right. Once you get it though this is a major move in the golf swing.

  2. This tip comes at the right time to correct my late straitening of my left leg.

    • Glad I could help. Please keep working on it. Just remember to start doing it as soon as you start down. It takes little coordination but within no time you should be able to master the move to

  3. Great tip Paul!! Is this straightening done smoothly or with a “snap” or some type of force/exertion with left foot? I think I may be doing it too hard?

    Also…I sole my driver and as a result line the ball up toward the toe (which I’ve heard you should do if you don’t hover the driver). However I’m still hitting a bunch on the heel/hosel side of the face even lining it up toward toe. Any suggestions? Thanks!!

    • At first the move is just done smoothly. As you get better at it you can incorporate a snapping action of the left knee. Please don’t do it so hard that you hurt yourself. This takes getting used to because human nature doesn’t like to straighten the left leg. As your body gets used to it you can go a little faster.

      The left foot will be firmly planted at the three-quarter through point. It doesn’t roll to the outside edge until after this point.

      If you are getting the heel you are still coming over the top. This means that the little arms in your swing. Keep focusing on taking the arms out of the downswing and initiating with a lower body. If you get the snapping action of the left leg the body easily get ahead of the arms coming down which will flatten the plane.

      Next time you hit golf balls just relax the arms a little bit and you should see the ball start moving towards the center of the face.

  4. Great tip again. I sometimes forget to turn. Most of the time I do touch my legs on turning but I may be doing this late. I also cannot bring my short irons to take a divot causing me to at least concentrate on the grass in front of the ball to make sure I don’t hit a fat shot or hit the ground before the ball. I’ll try the above tip as it may get me to turn sooner and get my right heel off the ground. Your the best. Have learned a lot from you and having a lot more fun golfing. Cured my yipps on pitching and chipping with now great results. Have a great driver now from Bronson and hitting that well. Also purchased a 3 wood from him and that’s where I am having problems. I’m always hitting the ground and/or fat shot. I’ll try the straight leg tip to see if that works. If you any other suggestion to fix this, please let me know. All the best. Gerry

    • If you forget to turn you are not thinking about the touch the leg position plus you have not touched the legs together enough to make it repeat 100% of the time. So make sure you are doing tons of practice swings around the house on a regular basis looking for the pressure of the right leg physically touching the left. If you always feel this pressure you are always doing the exact same movement. That is the whole point of feeling the pressure.

      If you are not taking a divot you are hitting with your arms. This is a tell-tale sign. So you need to loosen up your arms so they fully extend past impact. This will widen your swing arc and allow the club to enter the ground. At times, you may get the ground behind the ball but this is the sign that the arms are stretching out and the arc is widening. Sure, you may have a little too much weight on the right foot but at least the ark is getting wider. A lot of people avoid the fat shots because they don’t turn out very well when really they should be looking at them thinking this is a good thing because the ark is getting wider. All they have to do is get off that right foot a little better in the ark will clear.

      So I would keep trying to stretch the arms out and keep trying to turn them off while working on the lower body move to hit the ball. It will come into the future if you keep working on and thinking about not trying to get anything.

      That’s great that you cured your yips. I usually have great success in doing this because they are caused because you are trying to hit or help the shot. As soon as you take your mind off of the ball it is easily cured.

      I really think you need to be working a lot on the straightening of the leg and the touching of the right leg to the left trying to feel the pressure between them. It sounds like this is really holding you back. For the sake of a little work you should see great improvement in the future.

      • Hi Paul, regarding your 2nd paragraph here (to do with fat shots), you mentioned people who suffer from fat shots just have to work on getting off their right foot a bit quicker/earlier. My feet are slightly flat so to spring off them quickly sometimes is a little difficult; do you think it’ll be ok if throughout my backswing I loaded my weight onto the balls of my right foot (knuckle area) rather than being flush flat footed. Thanks for all your tips!

        • August 25, 2012

          Paul Wilson

          Michael, yes you can load on the balls of your feet. To me that gives an image of the toes this is why I say load on your laces. By getting off the back foot I am saying the heel should be coming off the ground about 3-4 inches with irons and 5-6 inches with woods. This is coming off the ground because you are turning your body. In doing so the heel should be pulling off the ground. Most people don’t use the lower body enough so they end up flat footed at impact. Just do practice swings feeling the heel coming off the ground and you will be fine.

  5. Thanks Paul, great reminder, came at a good time

  6. Hi Paul, sorry to comment again,however just had to share trip to the range today. I was working on straightening the left leg and after hitting quite a few shots, realized that I had quit focusing on the ball. If I start the downswing by straightening the left leg, everything else just happened. I touched the legs together automatically. Suddenly I was at the follow-through watching the ball through tilted eyes. I have improved so much with SMG but the sequence was slightly off. Will continue to work on this and can’t wait for my next round.
    Thanks again for this timely tip, Mike

    • Not a problem Mike.

      This is what I’m trying to explain to everyone the ball is the problem. You need to be thinking of the end of your swing. If you swing through to point B you cannot be thinking of the ball. The ball is hit because it gets in the way of you moving to point B. So, the follow-through is actually more important than the backswing.

      You can have a pretty wild backswing but if you make the move to the follow-through correctly the body starts rotating (circular rotation), the shaft plane flattens (powerless arms) and the angle is maintained. This explains how you can get a swing like Jim Furyk’s to end up in the exact same follow-through position as other pros even though his swing seems pretty wild.

      Glad you are starting to understand it. Just keep that it.

  7. I hope finally to have the sequence right! I’ve always been lead to believe that the lower half moves before the top half, causing in my case spin-outs, and have had many teachers tell me to move the legs/hips first. So can I at last believe that it is really all one movement? With a quarter of a second to play with, one can hardly separate the two. Continuing to make progress, but am at times plagued by golf amnesia – got it and then it’s gone again! Glad you have your own website – all the best Julia

    • It is one movement. You just need to keep the stance narrow enough and straighten the leg in the downswing. When you do the right leg will come around to touch the left leg. That means the right leg can only come around so far. If you are spinning out your stance would have to be wider and you’re right knee would have to go behind the left leg which causes the right heel to lean too much right. This of course puts you out of balance and is not the correct way to start the downswing. Just keep the stance narrow enough that when you do this move the right leg touches the left. To watch yourself in the mirror to make sure it is perfect. I know you can do this because you are very close to doing it anyway. Just make the move precise and in no time he couldn’t stop thinking about.

      I like people to do it in two moves when they very first are trying to understand the movement but it becomes one movement a few minutes after they have had the initial feeling of the straightening of the left leg. So after you have done it a few times it becomes one movement. As you said, it’s only a quarter of a second thought how can you think of two movements.

  8. Paul
    I notice at address your club face is about an inch behind the ball
    Is this what you suggest we do and why?

    • I do this so I do not touch the ball. If you touch the ball and move it you will incur a 2 stroke penalty. This is really up to you. You do not have to do this.

  9. Thanks, Paul

  10. June 13, 2012


    On the finish touch the knee position, how much weight is left on right toe,is it just enough for balance. Great website.

    • Yes, you want just enough weight to be balanced. If you are crunching your big toe or leaning back you have too much weight back there. In reality you should be able to lift this foot off the ground as you are watching your ball.

  11. February 19, 2014


    Excellent tip thanks Paul.

  12. Hey paul
    Was wondering if you have any tips on how to shift weight on a severe up hill lie ?
    I have a lot of trouble with these.
    Many thanks.

  13. Hi Paul,

    Are you able to make this move when you practice/workout with your UST?

    I’m struggling (post-school) to drive my UST (and my downswing) with balance and a downswing trigger. This move (left leg straightens) is the trigger that I have always liked the best.

    Thanks, Craig

    • Craig,

      Good to hear from you. Hope you are doing well. By now that backswing should be looking good.

      I did a tip on using the UST for leg drive here:

      DRILL: Faster Hip Rotation (UST): https://ignitiongolf.com/drill-faster-hip-rotation/

      Yes, you can lock the leg doing this. As you do, feel how the hips turn as well. If you keep doing it with the UST you will feel a huge increase without it.

  14. October 1, 2018



    This tip helped me understand what I was fuzzy about. I can start the downswing by straightening the lead leg but I thought I had to touch the legs before or at the time the resulting swing hits the ball. Through your explanation and the slo mo in this video I see that the legs touching happens after impact. The club was beating me to impact and I thought I was doing something wrong.


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      October 2, 2018

      Paul Wilson


      The downswing to the ball take .25 seconds. If you start from the top making the move to the touch the legs position they wouldn’t actually touch to until near the end of your swing because you can’t touch them that fast in life. You need to start the motion though from the top knowing you are ending up in this touching position. Sounds like you get it now. Keep trying to perfect this downswing transition in your swing. It should really help.

  15. October 12, 2018



    Went to the range today to try out my swing and I learned a few things. Maybe what I learned will help some people. First thing was I was having trouble getting my hips to turn fully as I was just trying to straighten the left leg and it wasn’t happening, my hip turn stalled. I learned that I needed to pull my left hip back as I straightened my left leg. I was just pushing the hip up, not back. Once I turned the left back my hip turn was much better and I gained some speed in the release.

    This led to the second thing which was my swing felt clunky. I was turning that left hip back quickly but the swing felt labored. After a while I tried slowing everything down trying to start a little slower so I could build up the speed. This is where I got surprised. I took the club into the backswing slower and turned the left hip back slower. Instead of coming through slower the club actually swung faster than before. I hit the ball a little farther and the swing felt smoother with less effort. I could actually feel the dynamics in my hands whereas before it felt labored. Maybe I hit upon a true rhythm for me, I don’t know. I only used a wedge and a 7 iron. I will try other clubs in the next week before I head off to Hawaii for a golf trip.


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      October 15, 2018

      Paul Wilson


      The slower move worked because you did it right and you didn’t tighten the arms. Just stick to this pace for a while until you get good at it. Then turn a little faster for a little more distance. Too many times people do it slow then go top speed and lose it. Gradually build it up.

  16. Hi Paul,
    can you let me know the cost and times available for your school?
    Brian Van Haselen
    [email protected]

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