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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Inbee Park's Pause

(A quick note: Although the LPGA website says NBC's Saturday and Sunday coverage of the US Women's Open starts at 3pm ET -- and as I listed in yesterday's post -- GC says it will actually start at 2:30pm ET both days. I assume that means there will be a pre-game show.)

No doubt you've heard about Inbee Park's pause at the top of her swing. You've heard commentators talk about how unusual it is and how it gives her great rhythm. All of their comments are true except...

Inbee Park does NOT have a pause at the top of her swing. I'll concede that it looks that way from a face-on view, but that view is misleading. Today I'm going to show you exactly what happens. I'm going to show you two videos from slightly different angles that will help you see what's really going on.

The first one is a down-the-line shot. There are 4 speeds here -- regular speed, slo-mo, super slo-mo, and one more at regular speed. Pay careful attention to her club head as it reaches the top of her backswing and changes direction.

This second one is also DTL but from a higher angle. It also has 4 speeds... and the nonstop movement of the club head is even more obvious from this angle.

What exactly is happening here? Basically, it's the same thing that happens with players like Sergio. Some instructors call it "laying off the club." It's a method of rerouting the club onto a lower swing plane for the downswing... which means she has a two-plane swing.

Here's how it works: As she reaches the top of her backswing, her trailing elbow starts down just a little ahead of her lead arm. This gives the appearance in a face-on view that her swing has indeed stopped momentarily. What actually happens? The slight difference in speed between how fast each arm is dropping causes the back of her lead hand to tilt slightly skyward. That, in turn, flattens her downswing plane.

Inbee has a bit of a flying right elbow, which contributes to this move. When she starts down, her right elbow moves a bit closer to her left elbow, which helps twist the back of her right wrist upward. A flying trailing elbow is generally considered a swing flaw, but it certainly helps Inbee here.

This twisting move has roughly the same effect as bowing her lead wrist as she starts down. Hogan said that keeping the lead wrist bowed through impact helps you make more solid contact with the ball. When you hear some players talk about "covering the ball," this is what they're talking about. It helps insure that the club shaft is leaning slightly forward when you actually hit the ball, which helps you "pinch" the ball against the ground, which helps you hit the ball more solidly and even a little straighter. Players who are considered ballstrikers usually hit the ball this way.

Now you know part of the reason Inbee is such a threat at the US Women's Open this week... and why she doesn't pause at the top of her swing.


  1. Hi Mike,

    Does this mean that we 'Big' & Less Flexible people should now try to emulate Inbee '3 majors in a row' Park's upright swing now? It seems that her swing is upper body dominated.



  2. I wouldn't say you have to emulate it, Ramzi. ;-) However, if it feels natural to you -- and if you can do it consistently -- I see no reason not to. While her swing looks a little unorthodox, it has very sound fundamentals.

  3. Mike - Jim Hardy's new book "The Release" talks about a right/trail hand powered throw release (RIT) that I'd like to use instead of the roll release of Park. The RIT release uses the left/lead arm differently than most generic swing instruction, and positions the right/trail elbow differently than your analysis of Kerr/Park's swing. Your insight about the timing of the right/trail elbow drop has made a loop possible for me - mega thanks. Now if you can help with the new motion of the left/lead hand into impact, I should be on the hunt when then rains stop.


    Jean Luc

    1. Jean Luc, I haven't read Hardy's book. And when I found info on the web about the two releases he talks about in the book (at, it seemed a bit contradictory to me -- for example, I'd say the LOP motion is a swinging motion, not a leverage motion, while the RIT motion can be either, depending on your hand and arm action. With no more explanation than I found there, it's hard for me to make hard and fast statements about what Hardy's doing.

      That said, let's see if I can give you some help with what you want to do.

      Hardy is somewhat controversial among swing geeks because, although much of his material is very helpful, he makes statements that clearly contradict fact. For example, in this GC video:

      he says that Hogan's swing is a one-plane swing. But in Five Lessons Hogan himself says:

      On the downswing plane, a golfer swings on a slightly different plane than the backswing. THE PLANE FOR THE DOWNSWING IS LESS STEEPLY INCLINED AND IS ORIENTED WITH THE BALL QUITE DIFFERENTLY FROM THE BACKSWING PLANE. The golfer gets on this second plane -- without thinking he is changing planes -- when he turns his hips back to the left at the start of the downswing. p87

      Hogan says his swing is a two-plane swing in three consecutive sentences, yet Hardy says it's a one-plane swing. So I'm hesitant to get too involved with his theories in this answer.

      But I can tell you that what you picked up from my stuff is a two-plane swing. That's why you can finally create a bit of a looping motion. It's a more natural, more relaxed way to unwind rapidly on your downswing.

      But you don't have to use a roll release (or a throw release, for that matter) to use the loop move and still square the clubface at impact. Let me suggest a feel drill for you:

      1) Take your address position without a club. Set the palm of your trail hand square to your target line. An easy way to do this is to set up next to a corner wall in your house, so you can lay your palm flat against the wall. Your trail wrist should be cocked backward just a bit, as if you had just slapped the wall. That should feel pretty normal to you.

      2) Now take your lead hand and grasp your trail wrist, as if it was the grip of the club. Your trail wrist is still slightly cocked.

      3) Now "swing" back to the top of your backswing. Don't try to rotate your wrists. With your shoulders turned 90 degrees, your palm will be aimed maybe another 45 degrees farther. Again, this should feel pretty natural.

      4) Now just "swing" down and, keeping your grip on your trail wrist, slap the wall with your trail hand. (Okay, it won't be much of a slap, but that's the motion.) You won't feel any rotation in your wrists, but you'll have to turn your body all the way through. Jimmy Ballard would call this "releasing your body." And again, it's the natural way to swing. It has the added bonus of creating a natural weight shift when you do it.

      Experiment with that for a while, then start trying to make a similar move in your backyard with a club. That'll feel a little awkward at first because of the weight of the club. Just do it slowly until it starts feeling comfortable, then speed it up.

      And let me know how it goes. I'm betting that you'll start to get the motion you're looking for. Just remember: You don't have to "throw" the club to get that release. The speed you'll learn to develop with the clubhead will create that motion all on its own.

  4. Wow! Thanks for the reply. It feels like the Tommy Fleetwood swing you described in today's post -- I like it. I has drawn to the RIT because it: 1) was right arm throwing (which works for me more than left arm pulling), and 2) and the new movement of my left arm keeps me swinging left (which pretty much ends my usual push miss). I will let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again,

    Jean Luc