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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dustin Johnson's Swing

It occurred to me, while thinking about next week's Tour Championship, that it might be interesting to look at swing footage of the Top 5 -- the guys who can win the FedExCup if they win the tournament. I've done posts about #1 Matt Kuchar and #5 Paul Casey, but not the others.

Today we'll take a quick look at #2 Dustin Johnson. According to the YouTube blurb, this is "Driver 14th hole Pebble Beach 2010 US during Wednesday Practice round":

Actually, I find that front view more interesting than a down-the-line shot, but here's one of those from the same week:

I want to point out a few things, primarily in the front view.

One thing that quickly becomes noticeable when you slow his swing down (in both views) is how much Dustin "dips" during his downswing -- a move that's common with players like Tiger, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, and Morgan Pressel. Dustin stays very steady all the way to the top of his backswing, where he gets an absolutely HUGE shoulder turn, and then he moves downward toward the ball. When he does that, it's no surprise at how much his lower body moves toward the target -- it has to get out of the way if it's going to turn while he squats like that -- but notice that he still does a pretty good job keeping his spine perpendicular to the ground. Even though he is very tall and gets down very low, he still manages to keep from going into a big "reverse-C" finish -- even with his driver. That's pretty impressive, but Dustin is much more athletic than the average player; I don't think it's something the average player can do with any consistency.

But what I really want you to notice is how close his elbows stay together throughout the swing. This is something Ben Hogan was really big on; the picture below is from, and it shows an illustration from page 49 of Hogan's book "Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf" together with a photo of Hogan's actual position.

Pictures of Hogan's elbows, taken from his book

Click here to see the Hogan pic above on the site; there's also a video of Hogan demonstrating this "elbow tuck" thing. Hogan believed this position helped players keep their arms better "connected" to their chests; it's what players are working on when you see them tuck a glove between their chest and left forearm during practice.

I think Dustin makes the most exaggerated version of this move I've ever seen. Does it help him keep those long arms of his (he's 6'4" tall, you know) from swinging way out from his body when he whips that club down from the top? I don't know, but it seems to work for him; he's awfully accurate, considering how far he hits the ball.

If you've been struggling with your arms separating from your body on your follow-through -- and especially if you've tried that "glove in the armpit" drill and it hasn't helped -- you might want to try Dustin's move. While I don't think I'd carry it quite to the extreme Dustin does, you might want to try the drill Hogan demonstrates in that video at the golfwrx site. In case that link gets changed, here's the video:

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