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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

German Engineering: Sandra Gal's Swing

Bio photo of Sandra Gal from LPGA.comI knew Sandra Gal (pronounced Sahn'-dra Gahl) was from Germany. But before the LPGA broadcast on Sunday, I didn't know that both she and Martin Kaymer were born in Düsseldorf or that they grew up playing amateur golf together. Martin is one year older and turned pro early, while Sandra decided to attend the University of Florida where she was an All-American twice. There were a lot of expectations for her when she finally turned pro.

According to Judy Rankin during Golf Channel's Sunday coverage of the Kia Classic, Sandra's biggest improvement has been mental rather than physical. When you look at her swing, it's easy to see why. This is a very solid swing that defies the need for improvement.

The first of these videos is from the 2010 State Farm LPGA Classic. It's just a good full-speed shot of her swing:

This one's from the 2011 Honda LPGA Thailand. It has several slo-mo shots of her swing from different angles:

If you compare the face-on views to Tiger's original swing when he first came out on Tour in the Golf Digest Tiger swing sequence, you'll see a lot of similarities.

Finally, this slo-mo's from the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship. The angle is slightly more down-the-line than the one in the last clip:

What can you learn from this swing that you can take to the course and apply immediately? Well, it's simple and balanced... but most of all, it's very free and relaxed. Does Sandra look as if she's overly worried about where the ball is going? Not to me! She just lets it fly. In an age where we worry way too much about perfect mechanics, Sandra's swing is a breath of fresh air.

Sandra says that Martin Kaymer's success has given her something to shoot for, and her win at the Kia gave her a nice boost, vaulting her from #100 in the Rolex Rankings all the way up to #44. Since she's proven she can stare down a top player like Jiyai Shin and keep her wits about her, this swing just may take her on a quick trip to the top.

After all, the women do have a major this week. Wasn't that what jump-started her friend Martin's rise?


  1. swing ? aww nuts - gotta go back and watch the videos again...all I saw was legs that just go forever. :-D

    What I liked about her swing watching over the weekend was her confidence with the driver. She looked a bit like Greg Norman, with the club bouncing off her back on the followthrough.

  2. She just flings that club at the ball, doesn't she? That's the relaxation I was talking about -- she just seems so at ease when she swings.

    The Morning Drive guys talked to her this morning and asked her where she thought she had improved most... and she repeated Rankin's thoughts about her mental strength. And she said she was just enjoying playing more lately. Again, I think that shows in how relaxed her swing looks.

    And all you thought about was her legs? I thought you would remember the nude shot from ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue:

    It's pretty classy for a nude shot, but I doubt that class is what most guys are thinking about... ;-)

  3. She does make Sunday red much more memorable than Tiger ever did, though... ;-D

  4. Nah - didn't forget the ESPN "nude" shot - but I'd rather see the bikini picture than a "nude" like that.

    Funny thing about Gal, the shorter the clubs get, the less relaxed she looks. As good as that last wedge on Sunday was, she looked...well...girlish. More of an awkward looking slash than the flowing wood she hit off the tee. Maybe it's just me, but most women look like they're slinging an anchor during their short game, lots of effort to get the club going forward, with what looks like very little control over the club around the green.

    Speaking of pictures, that glamour shot makes her look a lot like "Kensie" from NCIS: LA.

  5. I definitely did not miss the nude shot from ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue. Her swing is the issue here and what a beautiful golf swing it is. Her swing is very fluid and relaxed, without a doubt. Lets see if that swing can get her to the winner's circle. My vote is yes, we will be seeing a lot of her in the near future.

  6. I agree, IM. I commented over at Mostly Harmless that I wouldn't be surprised to see her in the Top 30 of the Rolex by the end of the week.

    And Court, that "glamour shot" is actually her LPGA bio photo. With Gal, I imagine it's hard to find a pic that's not a glamour shot.

    As for awkward short swings, I found a couple of clips of her short game. I'll post them tomorrow.

  7. should I have said glamourOUS shot ? didn't mean to imply Glamour shot, as in the place at the mall.

  8. I knew what you meant, Court. I just meant that even a spur-of-the-moment snapshot of Gal probably looks pretty glamorous.

  9. CG said: "What I liked about her swing watching over the weekend was her confidence with the driver."

    Even though she stated (and I love this part) she was playing the course, not Jiyai on Sunday, did you notice she left the driver in the bag on the back nine? She gave up some distance to make sure she was in the fairway. Shin hits fairways like a machine, so Sandra needed a way to stay competitive. It worked.

  10. That picture wasn't a spur of the moment picture, it was part of a photo shoot - she was professionally coif'd for it. :-)

    I didn't get to watch all day on Sunday, D. Nice catch.

  11. I didn't say that was a snapshot, Court, just that she's photogenic. Almost any picture of her will probably be a good one.

    And Di, you've just pointed out another element of Sandra's improved mental game. She's not a long driver -- only around 240 yards (last year's stats) -- but she was confident enough of her game that she didn't get into a driving competition with Shin.

    I'll add one more. Most teachers would advise laying back a full wedge from the green. Not Sandra! She knew that partial wedge shot of hers was money, so that's what she played to.

    I like where she's headed.