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Monday, August 20, 2012

A Couple of Swing Thoughts

Since the Limerick Summary is rain-delayed (GC will broadcast the rest of the Wyndham today at 9am ET) I thought I'd pick out a couple of interesting things I saw players do this weekend.

First up, from the U.S. Amateur... the eventual winner Steven Fox had a rather unusual way of starting his backswing. Some of you have heard of swing triggers, which are just a small movement of some kind that players use to help smooth out their takeaway. A common one is called a forward press, where you lean the grip of the club a little toward the target before you start swinging the club. You might think of it as a bouncing motion -- you move one direction, then rebound in the other direction.

Fox uses a very unusual trigger. He bends both of his knees toward the ball to start his backswing! It's really kinda weird-looking when you first see it because it looks like he might fall over. However, it works well for him. He "rebounds" upward as he starts the club back -- not something I would recommend, since I think it would get most players out of position. In Fox's case, both of his knees are still bent at the top of his backswing, so he doesn't "lock them" the way some players might.

However, flexing just your trailing knee might work as a trigger for some people. A slight downward "squat" with that knee, then returning to your original flexed knee position after you've started your backswing, might be just the ticket if your lower body feels too stiff when you start back. The important things here are to (1) make sure you don't straighten your knee during your backswing and (2) don't let that flexing turn into a sway away from the target.

The other thing was a strategy move Inbee Park made at the LPGA's Safeway Classic to give her a chance to win. (Mika Miyazato got her first win instead. Did you see the trophy? It's bigger than Mika!) Anyway, on the 17th hole, which the LPGA shortened to play as a 217 yard par 4 -- I know that sounds short but the green was really hard, it was surrounded by water and thick rough, and the only bailout was the back bunker -- Park was one of the few players who gave herself a decent putt at eagle. (She lipped out but it was a good try.) How did she do it?

Most of the women had to go at the green with a hybrid. Park would have too... if she had tried to fly it to the hole like everybody else. Instead, she took a 5-iron and landed the club well short of the green, running it up the front and getting closer than the approaches of any of the players I saw. Granted, not all holes allow this sort of shot -- and Park had to hit the ball accurately to get the result she wanted -- but even if she had missed it, she would have left herself a decent chip shot. Why didn't anybody else try it? Because we're conditioned to always try and fly the ball to the hole. Sometimes good strategy means that you don't do what everybody else does.

So there are two helpful things I saw during the telecasts this weekend:
  1. use a swing trigger to help smooth out your takeaway and
  2. look at all your options on a hole before you plan your shot, especially on tricky holes.
These small things just might save you a few strokes next time out.

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