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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Power of Powerlessness

Brian Gay is only 5' 10" and 165 lbs, so he's a pretty normal guy. He typically drives the ball between 270 and 280 yards, making him one of the Tour's short knockers. Yet his swing is a potent weapon, capable of winning him 4 tournaments thus far in his career.

His is a swing we can all learn from. First, let me give you a couple of YouTube videos. The first is a Peter Kostis analysis from 2009:

The other is from teacher James Ridyard and focuses on Brian's swing from this past week's win:

I've taken a couple of stills from these videos to point out some things that might help you if you're struggling with feelings of inferiority!

The first comes from the Kostis video. Brian Gay's teacher is Lynn Blake, who uses the Golf Machine teaching theory. There are a variety of things Brian does in his swing, such as bend his trailing elbow fairly early in his backswing, have a closed face at the top, and straighten his legs as he hits the ball. But what I want you to notice is his address position.

See how straight his elbows are at address? Instructors differ in their opinions about this technique but, if you're comfortable with it, it can help you strike the ball more consistently. With your arms extended like this at address, it's much easier to keep a consistent distance to the ball. It also gives Brian a slightly bigger arc in his swing, which may help him get a bit more distance.

This double shot I created from Ridyard's video shows Brian at the top of his swing and halfway down. What I want you to see is how little wrist cock he has. Note that the right-hand photo has lines showing Brian's position at the top of his backswing (Ridyard added those). He doesn't create any extra wrist cock during his downswing. This is a position that creates very little power compared to most of the big hitters on Tour. However, note that Brian consistently hits his driver 270-280 yards. Do you hit it that far? If not, maybe lack of wrist cock isn't your problem.

What Brian's swing proves is that consistent solid contact is more valuable than fancy technique. Granted, the three courses used at the Humana aren't the longest on Tour; they ranged from 6924 to 7060 yards. But the long hitters were unable to beat Brian, even though they should have been hitting wedges into most of these greens.

Perhaps you should worry less about power and more about consistent contact. If it works for Brian Gay against pros who hit the ball 40 or 50 yards farther than he does, it can work for you too.


  1. Brian is working with grant waite now---has been for about a year now

  2. Thanks for the correction, ReT. I only knew he had worked with Blake for several years. But the videos I compared of "old" Gay VS "new" Gay looked pretty much the same, so I'm guessing Waite hasn't changed much in Brian's fundamentals.