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Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Look at Brendan De Jonge's Swing

There's been a lot of talk about Brendan De Jonge's "over-the-top" swing and how well he hits a golf ball using it. And Brandel Chamblee made a good point about it -- he said that millions of weekend players were all watching and wondering why their OTT swing didn't get the same results.

I'm going to answer that question for you in this post. First, let's take a down-the-line look at Brendan's swing since that's where the OTT move is so evident.

Although you might think Brendan's swing is unusual, it really isn't. Just look at this old slo-mo footage of the great Bobby Jones -- you'll see a very similar motion.

Part of what gives Brendan's swing such an odd appearance (and the swing of Bobby Jones, as well) is that neither has a one-piece takeaway. Both pull the club dramatically to the inside on their backswing, which puts both the club and their hands waaaaay under the proper backswing plane and gets their hands extremely close to their trailing hips.

Because of that takeaway, their backswings are extremely flat. (Brendan's is actually flatter than Bobby's because Brendan delays bending his trailing elbow even longer than Bobby does.) And because of that late elbow bend, both are forced to lift their hands -- and consequently the club -- almost straight up to the top of their backswings.

But here is where both Jones and De Jonge depart from the standard OTT swing motion.

In a standard OTT swing, the hands reach the top of the backswing AND CONTINUE UPWARD, arcing up and forward, far above the correct swing plane and never touching it again until the club head reaches the ball.

But as both Jones and De Jonge reach the top of the swing plane. THEY START DOWN ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. As a result, both actually succeed in coming down ON the correct swing plane! Here, take a look at this still I snagged from the video of Brendan's downswing. At this point, most players making an OTT move would have their hands well out in front of their bodies. Brendan's hands, however, are pretty close to the correct position for an on-plane swing. A line drawn from the head of the club down the shaft, if extended to the ground, would point at or just inside his aim line (the line drawn from the ball to his target).

And yes, I know that it looks as if his stance is closed from this angle, but that's distortion caused by the camera lens. See how the dark grass stripes on the left of the tee and the ones on the right of the tee both point inward? Look at the one running under Brendan's feet and you'll see that his feet are parallel to his aim line.

De Jonge starts his downswing

Although Brendan De Jonge appears to have an OTT move, he actually makes that move much lower than most weekend players do. As a result, his downswing is on plane -- actually, at impact his hands are just slightly above the plane and the club head is traveling slightly out-to-in, which is not the same as an OTT move. An out-to-in path impacts the ball at a much shallower angle than an OTT path, like an on-plane swing does. It's what gives him that slight little cut shot that he plays so well.

It's not a move I would recommend, simply because I think the backswing feels much too cramped with my hands so close to my trailing hip. I also think it's a bit difficult to keep from lifting my hands too high at the top of the backswing, which creates that bad OTT move. But now you know why it works for Brendan and not for you. If you can get your hands on the correct plane for your downswing, this can be a very dependable move.

After all, it worked for Bobby Jones and it works for Brendan De Jonge. It works very well indeed.