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Friday, May 22, 2015

How an Umbrella Improves Rickie's Iron Play

It's no secret that when Rickie Fowler went to Butch Harmon for help, Butch reportedly gave him three swing thoughts to help him tweak his swing. There's an article about those three thoughts over at, called Get More Birdie Looks, and I wanted to point out one in particular that may help many of you.

Rickie now "pops an umbrella" at the top of his backswing.

Rickie's top of backswing image

As Rickie puts it in the article:
I used to suffer the same tendency that affects a lot of amateurs: My arms kept going back after I completed my shoulder turn. When the arms get disconnected from the trunk muscles like this, the club goes past parallel and can cause a bunch of issues... So to keep everything unified going back, my slow-motion rehearsal thought was, I'm holding an umbrella on my backswing. As in, I stop going back the moment I feel the shaft points straight up and down like an umbrella.
Rickie also points out that, despite what you may think, the club is going back much further than it feels like. (That little inset picture shows where his umbrella thought actually puts him.)

On a more humorous note, he says that sometimes the umbrella thought didn't work as well as it should... at which point Butch told him to pretend he was Steve Stricker. Stricks doesn't cock his wrists much during his swing, even with a driver, which helps him keep the club under control when he changes direction. (BTW, I have a short post series about that called The Deadhanded Approach Shot which you can find over on the Some Useful Post Series page.)

The purpose of this swing thought is to keep you connected at the top of your backswing, to keep your upper arms from moving too far away from your chest. That's why you overswing, which causes you to get a bit sloppy on the way down and keeps you from hitting the ball as solidly as you should.

As I said, Rickie tells all three swing thoughts in the article. There's one for the takeaway, one for the backswing, and one for impact... but I think this one is definitely the easiest to picture and put to immediate use.

UPDATE : I added one more thought about this drill at this post as well.

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