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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Quick Look at Webb's Swing

The media's analysis of Webb Simpson's swing is well underway. As one example, you probably saw Michael Breed's breakdown on The Golf Fix Monday night. But if you want to know why Webb's swing is so solid, I can explain it to you real quick.

And surprise! It's not his putting. For all the talk about that belly putter helping with short putts, Webb's stat page at PGATOUR.com says he actually gets worse as he nears the hole! He's 84th when putting between 3 and 5 feet from the hole, but 2nd from over 25 feet. (That clearly helped him at Olympic, though. Nobody could get close to the hole on those greens.) If you want to find his secret, you've got to look at his full swing.

I'm going to compare him to Steve Stricker, someone whose swing I've used as a prime example of how a weekend player should try to swing. It's an extremely simple, low-maintenance swing that will stay in shape with very little practice.

First, let's look at Stricker's swing. Here's a down-the-line breakdown from Peter Kostis from the 2011 Memorial:



And here's a face-on view from the 2010 U.S. Open (it's hard to find newer face-on views that allow embedding, but this still looks right):



Now take a look at Webb's swing from just this past week at the Olympic Club:



Do you see any differences? They're minor.

In the front view, during the backswing, Webb straightens his right leg more than Steve, which causes him to raise up slightly. As a result, Webb has more of a down move to start his downswing than Steve. You can see it clearly at impact (roughly :31 in the 2nd Stricker clip and :30 in the Simpson clip), where Steve's head is centered over his right knee while Webb's head is slightly behind his. Webb's head has also dipped a bit lower than Steve's. Webb has moved slightly away from the target at impact -- a move that can be a bit hard on your back, but certainly doesn't cause an accuracy problem when it happens as late in the swing as Webb's does.

That's the cause of the primary difference between their down-the-line views as well. It makes Webb look as if he "stands up" a bit at the very top of his backswing, then you can see his head and right shoulder dip a bit more than Stricker's on the way down.

Breed said Webb has always had a slight problem with swaying away from the ball on his takeaway, and fighting this almost certainly causes his extra movement at the top. But you can see (in the front view again) that Webb doesn't move off the ball when he's swinging well, and the head movement is so small that it doesn't cause a problem as long as he avoids a slide during his backswing. He stays steady over the ball, so he hits it the same way time after time.

You don't have to have a perfect swing to play consistent golf. Webb's swing is very simple, very similar to Stricker's basic move, and he stays steady over the ball throughout his swing. That's how you hit lots of narrow fairways, land on lots of small greens, and carry off your first major trophy.

1 comment:

  1. Steve Stricker's style of swing is the same type of swing taught by Jim Flick (also the coach of Beau Hossler), anyone interested in learning this style of swing should read the excellent book "Jim Flick - on Golf"

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