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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Smooth Moves of Shrek

Ok, first let's get his name straight. Monday night, Michael Breed on The Golf Fix put together some media clips of various South Africans saying Louis Oosthuizen's name, as well as asking Ernie Els and Gary Player on air. Here's how his name is pronounced:

The people who have been pronouncing the first syllable so it sounds like wust (rhymes with rust) are pretty close. It's actually two sounds run together -- oo-ust, which creates a kind of "w" sound in the middle, just as the vowels in Louis do:  Loo-wie. I see two possible solutions if you have problems getting that oo-ust to sound like one syllable -- either say wust, as many of the announcers are doing, or (and this is the closest English equivalent I've found so far) is saying oost so it sounds like the "oo" in hook.

As for that second syllable, Gary Player was very clear about that. "It's hay, like hay in the field" is what he told Michael Breed. And Player should know -- he not only knows Louis, but Louis's caddy came through Player's caddy school and looped for him some on the Champions Tour.

So if you say wust-hay-zen, oo-ust-hay-zen (oo-ust is one syllable), or oost-hay-zen (oo hook), you'll be pretty darn close to the correct pronunciation.

Or you can just say "Shrek." ;-)

Of course, the swing's the thing... and it was much simpler over at YouTube on Sunday when I started planning this post. There were maybe 4 videos of Louis's swing, most of them several months old -- and now everybody's posting a slo-mo of it. The irony is that Louis's swing is best appreciated at full speed. I've picked three (two slo-mos and a regular speed) that should give you a good overview of what he does.



Or rather, what he doesn't do. This full-speed shot is from the Wentworth tournament earlier this year. It's beautiful just to watch, isn't it?

I was surprised when Michael Breed focused on the one thing I decided to focus on, and even used the same word to describe it: balance. I don't just mean that he looks like he's solidly anchored during his swing; no, Louis is balanced no matter what angle you view his swing from. He doesn't move too far forward or too far back, too far up or too far down, and no part of his body seems to move more than it absolutely has to. This down-the-line slo-mo really lets you see how relaxed he seems to be... and that relaxation causes his body to be quiet, since he isn't fighting himself.



One thing you can see clearly from this angle is that he hasn't twisted his forearms on the backswing, which you all know by now is one of my pet peeves. If you stop the clip at the 5-second mark, you can see what I'm talking about; if he was to uncock his wrists, so the shaft was in line with his left arm, it would almost duplicate his setup position. Michael Breed also pointed this out, because it allows him to keep his arms and chest moving together. That's why his hands don't get stuck behind him on the downswing, as well as why he's so accurate.

One last video, this one a face-on slo-mo from the Open Championship. Again, notice how quiet and centered his body is.



There have been a lot of questions about why a guy with this swing hasn't made more noise on the world golf scene. Although he had 5 victories on the Sunshine Tour (I may have to start tracking their results on this blog, since the South African players are becoming such a force), Louis only got his first Euro Tour win back in March. After listening to some of his interviews, I think he's only begun to see himself as a real contender this year. If his performance so far is any indication, Louis's swing may become the one everybody wants to copy.

And I'm all for that. Simplicity never goes out of style.

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