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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When Sakura Yokomine Swings

If you were watching the International Crown this past weekend and you had never seen Sakura Yokomine from Japan before, you may have done a doubletake when you saw her swing. Terry Gannon and Judy Rankin compared her super-long backswing to both John Daly and Jamie Sadlowski. Here's the clip from GC (the comparison to Daly and Sadlowski isn't included in this clip):

However, they only showed her swing from down-the-line once -- and that at regular speed. There's something very important that they don't get quite right but you can only see it from that angle. I found a Japanese video that shows her swing DTL in slo-mo, but embedding has been disabled so I've just included the link and captured this key position at the extreme of her backswing.

Sakura at end of backswing

See where her club shaft is pointing? Her shaft is pointed at the ball or even above it, not down at the ground as Terry and Judy implied. (I believe Terry said it almost disappears when it's parallel to her body. It does look that way from the front view but not from DTL.)

I think this is a critical reason why Sakura has been able to make this swing work despite being only 5'1" tall. (Sadlowski is 5'10" and Daly is 5'11".) Being so much shorter than the other two, her swing plane is much flatter. If she didn't keep the club on plane so well, she'd have to reroute the club quite a bit to hit the ball solidly.

As it is, she was reaching some of the par-5s in two, as she did on #12 in the GC video above.

If you're determined to get more distance by overswinging, make sure you keep your club on plane the way Sakura Yokomine does. I can't guarantee you'll be a great ballstriker if you copy her swing, but I'm pretty sure you'll struggle if you don't.


  1. Combine Kerr at the top and Ko down