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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Brian Manzella on How Jordan Squares the Clubface

Here's a new instructional video from showing how Jordan Spieth squares the face of his club during impact. (Alas, there's no way to embed it in this post. Just pop over to to see it.) Brian Manzella has a drill to help you understand how Jordan is moving.

But I think there's a bit more to this than Brian says, although he definitely shows what's happening. Let me explain.

Manzells demonstrates Spieth at impact

What I want to focus on is that bent lead elbow at impact and beyond. Everybody who analyzes Jordan's swing points out this somewhat unorthodox position; most players try to have the lead elbow straight (or nearly so) when they hit the ball. Let me show you how this affects Jordan's fundamentals.

The neutral/weaker lead hand position simply gets the back of Jordan's hand to face the same direction as the clubface.

While Manzella is correct that Jordan rotates the club a bit, it's not as much as you might think. Remember, Manzells's standing straight up when he demonstrates this; if he were bent over as Jordan would be when he turns, that 30-degree face angle would make the toe point almost straight up in the air. The angle is created by a bowed wrist, not a twisting forearm

The key is that bent lead elbow. When Jordan bends that elbow and pulls it against his side, it causes his upper arm to act like a hinge, swinging his forearm like a door. In essence, he "slams the door" on the ball so that the back of his lead hand -- and therefore the face of the club -- is pointed directly at the target. That bent elbow forces him to square the clubface. That's the key movement.

In fact, I bet you'll find that you can get the exact same result -- that square clubface -- without consciously trying to manipulate the clubface at all. By keeping that slight bend in the lead elbow, it's extremely easy to think about hitting the ball with the back of your lead hand, or the palm of your trailing hand if you prefer, or with both of them (that's what I do).

Here's a drill to try for comparison: Keep your upper lead arm close to your side and let your lead forearm lay across your chest, pointed back at that halfway position Brian is starting from. From there, don't move your upper arm -- just swing your forearm (and club) away from your body so it points straight out toward the ball. See how it feels like it's swinging on a hinge? That's the basic movement; it's just that your elbow is a bit farther from your body at the halfway down point in your actual swing.

(If that drill seems unclear, let me know in the comments and I'll see if I can't add some photos to illustrate the move.)

Think about backhanding a tennis shot -- most people instinctively bend their elbow when they make the swing to take some stress off the arm. Bending that elbow helps create the leverage to get the racket around their body so they can hit the ball. This is the same thing!

And if you try making swings this way, don't be surprised if you eventually start straightening your lead elbow more as you become more relaxed making this movement. The key here is that bending your lead elbow as you swing creates rotation at your shoulder joint -- not a twist with your forearm -- that helps you get the clubface squared up. It not only simplifies the motion, but it takes a lot less effort than flipping the club. Give it a try and see if it doesn't help.