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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's Not Over Till the Flat Man Swings

Yes, I admit that I'm overly pleased by that clever little title.

But I'm probably not as pleased as Matt Kuchar is by his performance this year. The #1 guy on the FedExCup points list has been a model of consistency this year... and some recent slo-mo video of his swing has finally made it to YouTube. These videos are from the 2010 PGA Championship -- a mere three weeks ago!

First, a down-the-line shot showing that notoriously flat swing plane:



You can see from this angle that the top of his left forearm is just barely below the top of his right shoulder at the top of the backswing. You can also see how he uses a one-piece takeaway. But did you notice that little forward move his shoulder makes at the start of his downswing? It's barely visible in slo-mo.

It's much clearer in this video:



See how he comes slightly "over-the-top" to start his downswing? Again, it's only noticeable in slo-mo. His swing is so flat that his shoulder actually has to move forward just a bit to start his downswing. Technically it's an "over-the-top" swing, but from a practical standpoint it makes no difference; his hands are still far enough below what most teachers would consider a proper swing plane that he's still on line when he hits the ball. This isn't too different from Bobby Jones, who had an actual up-and-over loop in his backswing that never got high enough to result in a pull. I'm pointing this out for only one reason: If you have a flat swing, this shoulder movement is normal. If you get your swing videoed and this move shows up, it's not a flaw in the swing.

While I would never tell somebody to swing this flat, I don't think it's a problem if this is a natural move for you. Kuchar's swing allows him to create a lot of clubhead speed; if you stop the video at :25, you'll see how much flex he's created in the shaft. At the :27 mark, you can see how the shaft has snapped forward to unleash that stored-up energy against the ball.

So that's Matt Kuchar's super-consistent but extremely flat swing. And now that we've seen the flat man swing at least twice, I guess this post is over. ;-)

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