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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Tip from Cristie Kerr (and Inbee Park)

Cristie Kerr, like most of the successful golfers on the pro tours, has a unique swing. Since she won this past week, I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at something in her swing that most of you probably would never think about doing in yours.

In fact, Inbee Park does this as well. We'll take a quick look at both of them. I'm including some video footage of both players -- three videos in fact -- and I'll tell you what to look for. We'll start with the Playing Lessons with the Pros show that Cristie did for GC a few years back.

And yes, this is the entire show... but back then it was only a half-hour, which means it's about 20 minutes or so when you remove the commercials. There's a lot of good material in this show but we're only going to focus on about 20 seconds of it, starting at around the 1:40 mark. That section shows Cristie hitting an iron to the green.

What I'd like you to notice is that Cristie doesn't really cock her wrists during her backswing. Isn't that odd? This move is part of the reason she's so accurate. But you'd think that would make her an extremely short hitter, wouldn't you? Yet Cristie averaged nearly 255 yards off the tee this season... and Cristie is only 5'3" tall.

Now there's a little trick to this, of course, but you can't see it so well with this short iron swing. So I've pulled up a YouTube video of Cristie hitting driver at the 2014 CME Group Tour Championship a year ago. The longer driver swing makes it easier to see what's happening, especially in the slow motion part.

There! Did you see it? Although she doesn't cock her wrists on the way back, she DOES cock her wrists a little as she starts down. This is an excellent way to make a small amount of wrist cock last much longer into the downswing.

And despite what you may think, it's not all that difficult to do. The trick is simply to relax your wrists a bit as you start down. The change of direction takes care of creating that small wrist cock if you do. Take the club back slowly, and don't let the club flop around at the top. Then, as you change direction, relax your wrists and forearms for a moment and that little wrist cock will happen.

Now, if you listen to Golf Central, you've probably heard Tripp Isenhour say (many times) that he simply doesn't understand how Inbee Park creates any power with her swing. Inbee is 5'6" and she averages 248 off the tee, nearly as much as Cristie, despite having a much slower swing. Well, just take a look at this video of Inbee hitting driver. As an interesting side note, Lydia Ko's driver swing is shown here as well. Lydia is 5'5" and also averages 250, but notice how much more effort she has to put into her swing to get the same results as Inbee:

It's not just about how fast you swing the club, folks. It's about how you use it. A golf club is a tool for driving balls, just like a hammer is a tool for driving nails. This little "lag" move at the start of the downswing is very much like the way a carpenter swings a hammer. And because you cock your wrists as you start down, you don't have to jerk the club from the top in order to get more clubhead speed.

Cristie and Inbee both use this move. It's not a big move so it doesn't show as much as the clubs get shorter because the shorter shafts don't flex as much. But this also makes it much easier to deliver clubhead speed to the ball with accuracy, so you'll hit more fairways and greens.

This is something that's worth practicing. It's not hard to learn but you do have to stick with it until you get it. It's as much a mental adjustment as a physical one. But it can really help you poke that ball out there!