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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

K.J. Choi Keeps His Hands in Front of Him

How cool is it that the winner of The Players does exactly what I've been talking about for the last week? Not only that, but his swing coach has some instruction about this very topic!

Coincidence? I think not...

Anyway, let's start with a quick look at K.J.'s swing. Here's Peter Kostis explaining the move. Note that if you drew a line straight out from his chest, it would pretty much intersect his hands from nearly shoulder-high on the downswing all the way through to shoulder-high in his finish:

I also hope you notice how "together" his swing looks. It looks that way because his hands stay in front of him. For you purists out there, his lower body is clearly moving first, but you almost have to watch in slo-mo to tell. Again, that's because his hands stay in front of him; it sort of "camouflages" the move.

That lifting action Kostis mentions can be seen more clearly in this footage from the Masters this year. Obviously it's more pronounced with the longer clubs:

See how K.J.'s hands move a little up-and-over at the top of his swing? Michael Breed also showed some footage of K.J.'s swing on The Golf Fix Monday night and talked about this. Last week I mentioned in several posts how the hands should line up with the middle of the shoulder at the top of the swing. Note that K.J. swings his bent elbow slightly outward at the top of his backswing; that brings his hands up just in front of his shoulder, and then he bends forward to start his downswing. That gives him the little over-the-top movement that helps him hit that little cut of his.

But even without that OTT move, K.J. still swings more up than around. He makes a good one-piece takeaway -- which simply means that he turns his shoulders early in his backswing -- and then lifts his arms up a little to get them to the top. This ensures that his shoulders turn fully and his hands get on plane. Let K.J.'s swing coach Steven Bann explain it a little more clearly. In fact, you may have heard a similar explanation before but didn't take it seriously. Notice that after he makes this move, his hands end up in front of his shoulder:

Am I running this into the ground? Perhaps. But I can't stress strongly enough how radically this simple concept of an early shoulder turn with a simple arm movement can streamline and improve your ball striking. Even though K.J. doesn't perform it perfectly, it still makes him a very consistent player who is respected for his game.

Keep your hands in front of you like K.J. -- you won't regret it!


  1. Very interesting. I've never seen it demonstrated like this, but it makes sense. Reinforces what you were saying about Lucas Glover a few post back. It makes the swing seem so simple when explained in this way.

  2. The swing is simple, Dex. One seven-year-old can teach another to swing a baseball bat; the golf swing is easier than that. We just make it hard.

    I had seen this demonstrated before -- I think it was David Leadbetter -- so I was really happy to find this video. The implications of this are important for most players, pro or weekend. I'll be coming back to this later.

  3. Sounds good. This swing thought really helped me during my round today.

  4. I'm glad, Dex. Simple is usually better. ;-)

    And I have to correct myself. I said K.J. doesn't do the move perfectly, but I meant he doesn't do it the way most of us would expect. K.J. intends to cut the ball, so he makes that little "out-to-in" move on purpose. Most of us are trying to eliminate a larger-than-desired slice, so we would want to make the move more on plane than K.J. does.

  5. hi mike!

    would just like to thank you for all these informative and helpful articles. i can't tell you how much money you have saved me from spending hahaha!

    this video showing the golf swing as a samurai-like chop has been unbelievably helpful in simplifying my mental process and my visualizing of how a golf swing actually looks like.

    i wish my dad had the patience to read your articles (he doesn't) i think it would be helpful for him as well.

    i recently finished 1st runner up in a small amateur tournament here in my country. i broke 90 for the first time. the one-piece take away that you preach has been God's gift to my golf game.

    anyways, more power to you and your blog.

  6. Thanks, enova. You just made my day! And congratulations on such a great showing!

  7. mike!, my name is actually NICK. sorry i didn't know how to make my name appear.

    anyway quick question, on soft pitches and chips, are we still doing it one piece or is it more "hand-sy"?

    i'm having some trouble applying the techniques i've learned here on the site to quarter and half swings. easier to do them on full swings.

    hope you do some pitching/chipping lessons also.

    thanks man!


  8. Thanks, Nick. Don't sweat it -- it's not unusual for me not to find out a person's name until they actually post it... and I understand that some people don't want to show their actual names.

    As for your question, the quick answer is "it depends," which doesn't help you much, does it? ;-)

    I've done some posts on pitching and chipping, so I'll do a post for you with links to them. Watch for it in the next day or two.

  9. thanks dude! i go to your blog at least once a day anyways...