We’ve all done it. Spent weeks on our grip and thousands on new clubs, chasing a better connection with the ball. Which makes sense—connecting with the ball is how we drive distance. But there’s a crucial—and often overlooked—second connection in golf. And if you’re not paying attention to it, you’re giving up power and distance without even knowing it.
That second crucial connection in golf is between your feet and the ground. Simple as it seems, the majority of your power in a swing comes not from your club, but from something called ground reaction force.
Ground reaction force—sometimes called ground force connection—sounds complicated, but it’s actually simple. As your body progresses through the backswing and then the downswing, you are unleashing a powerful kinetic chain of activity. You will have felt your feet and legs drive forcefully into the ground, but what you may not have known is that if your feet have adequate support and stability, the ground will actually return that energy back up through your body, where it passes through your legs, torso, arms—and then ultimately to the club face. This is ground reaction force, and if you can harness it, you will see immediate gains in your game.
To maximize ground reaction force, you need to maximize support and stability through your footwear. Throughout golf’s history, shoes have often been seen as an accessory. But in recent years, clinical exercise physiologists like Phil Stotter, Director of Sports Science at V1 Sports, have been doing ground-breaking research that has shown just how powerful the right shoe can be—because shoes help create stability and balance. According to Stotter, “maintaining your balance is often the difference between consistency, club velocity, distance or lack of it. If you are able to maintain good balance, you will have a better chance of being able to make an efficient swing where you can transfer energy more efficiently throughout your body’s different segments. That will help you to generate more speed and more distance.”
When you’re purchasing shoes, look for not just for comfort and style, but also insist on shoes that deliver stability and structure. While a flexible sole sounds appealing, that flex will allow your foot to roll, meaning that some of the force you are looking to harness effectively leaks out, rather than transferring back up the legs. For peak stability, your heel should be properly wrapped by the heel cup, and laces should ensure a snug fit.
So the next time you’re feeling frustrated with your game, look not at your club, but at your feet. Or as Phil Stotter says, “the bottom line is that without good balance, golfers are relying on compensations from coordination and a little bit of luck. So the question is, do you feel lucky or are you going to do something to improve your odds?”