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Saturday, May 25, 2013

More Poor Knee Action

I thought this was an interesting coincidence, albeit a very instructive one. So let us proceed...

As you know by now, Rory missed the cut over at Wentworth. The weather didn't help, of course, but he was having swing problems as well. Brandel Chamblee detailed several of them -- it's one of those "this happened, so this happened, so this happened" things -- but one thing in particular jumped out. I snagged the first still from Golf Central. Brandel was comparing Rory to Byron Nelson, and this photo shows the two just after impact. However, Rory is farther into his finish than Byron in the GC version, so I patched together the second version.

Even though Rory's shoulders have turned farther around in the original GC version, please note that his lower body looks the same in both:

Rory and Lord Byron - GC version

Rory and Lord Byron - my version

The thing to note here is the amount of knee bend at impact. A couple of days ago I ran a post featuring Butch Harmon's advice about keeping that trailing knee bent at impact to improve your contact and consistency. Look at how straight Rory's right knee is -- especially compared to Byron Nelson!

I've read several critiques of Byron Nelson's swing, and they all agreed that part of Byron's success came from that knee action. See, Byron started out with hickory shafts like most of the players of his time, but he developed that knee action as an adaptation to steel shafts. (Bet you didn't know that!) Part of the reason Byron set so many records is that he adapted to the new shafts faster than anyone else.

What's so important about knee flex? I'm glad you asked.

When you retain your knee flex longer in your swing, it does a lot of things, like help you hit down on the ball and maintain your posture longer. However, it also helps flatten out the bottom of your swing so your club head travels toward the target a bit longer. That's why Byron was one of the straightest hitters on Tour.

I'm not saying you should emulate Lord Byron and play with that much knee flex -- you can overdo anything in a golf swing. But there's a big difference between what you see from Rory and from Byron in these photos. I'm sure you can find a satisfactory balance. (BTW, Brandel mentioned that Rory's stance was wider than normal in this swing. If your swing is too wide, you'll find it harder to keep your trailing knee flexed. Just something to bear in mind so you don't hurt your back.)


  1. Great insight. Your ability to explain what happens in a golf swing is amazing. My handicap has been cut in half 18 to 9 and I attribute it to your teaching. Thank you.

  2. Just glad I can help, Jeff. Congrats on the improvement!!!