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Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Lydia/Leadbetter Split

Besides the new DJ Rule, the big news this past week was Lydia Ko's split with David Leadbetter, her teacher for the last three years.

Lydia Ko and David Leadbetter

Everybody has their own ideas about why this has happened, although you could say it was just par for the course. Lydia has now officially changed caddies and instructors in the last couple of months, and word is that she's going to change equipment soon (from Callaway to PXG). This kind of thing really isn't unusual in the pro ranks -- male or female -- and it's not like she hasn't done this sort of thing before.

But Lydia hasn't played all that well since the Olympics. You can read this reprint of a recent Golf World article by Jaime Diaz that speculates on a variety of possible reasons for the split, as well as a Golf Digest post from Ryan Herrington this past week that suggests declining play may be the reason.

Among those possible reasons given are:
  • dissatisfaction with Leadbetter's 'A Swing,' which was supposed to help Lydia get longer and more accurate (she declined in both distance off the tee and GIR this past season)
  • tensions with her caddie
  • increased competition from players like Jutanugarn and Henderson
  • burnout, and
  • other possible but unnamed distractions.
Are any of them to blame? It's anybody's guess. Given that she's been experimenting with swing changes that look more like her old swing, the 'A Swing' seems a likely culprit, although she did win her first two majors while using it. It may have proved too difficult for her to stay in form over a long period of time.

My own experiments with the 'A Swing' when the book came out roughly 18 months ago convinced me that it isn't for everyone. I was unable to make the swing correctly even once, despite understanding the concepts and working some with the drills in the book. With such a busy year due to the Olympics, Lydia may have simply got tired and couldn't muster the necessary concentration to perform the swing consistently. After all, the 'A Swing' is noticeably different from her old swing.

It wouldn't take much to push me toward a possible case of temporary burnout as the primary reason, given the fact that Lydia stated after the Tour Championship that she intended to get away from golf for a while. (Diaz's article includes her famous quote: “Month off. Don’t touch my clubs. I think they are sick of me too.”) And it's probably coupled with the realization that her old swing seemed to work well even when she was tired.

Perhaps it's no more than a desire to simplify. Take a month off, clear the cobwebs out of her head. Don't touch the clubs for a month, then come back to practice with the old swing that she knows so well with new equipment. Start the 2017 season with a new caddie, a fresh voice in her ear.

But then again, maybe this isn't such a mystery at all. Lydia's birthday is April 24. She'll turn 20, no longer a teenager. Maybe, just maybe these are her first steps toward reinventing herself as an adult and she feels the off-season is the best time to do it.

Hmmm... It works for me.


  1. I am surprised to hear that David is using the A swing with his professional and top students. He has been a highly regarded instructor for decades and most of his other books were very traditional in approach. Like you I bought a copy of his A Swing book when it came out. After two weeks of reading it and trying the drills, I came to the conclusion that this was engineered toward the beginning and average golfer. The main focus of the book in my estimation was to put the golfer in such a position as to eliminate the over-the-top problem found in many golfers swings. Your book on this problem solved that issue for me. For his top students I would have expected him to be using the more traditional swing.


    1. My understanding is that they used it to help Lydia create more of a draw so she could get more distance. Her old swing didn't curve very much, which was part of why she was so accurate.

      If you look at some of her swing footage from earlier this year, you'll see her club pointing across the line at the top but really laid off halfway down -- the big move in the A Swing.

  2. she was shorter with the A-swing than her old one, Leadbetter said he added 20 yards, all a lie. easy enough to give her 30+ yards but not with him.