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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Get Familiar with Danny Willett's Game

Since a lot of you may not be familiar with Danny Willett's swing or approach to the game, I thought I'd pass on a few things I've either heard or found that may help you understand what he does.

Sequence of Danny Willett during the backswing

The photo above comes from a Golf Digest slideshow of Danny's swing. The slides show him from face-on, and from down-the-line from both the back and front. The most notable thing is his strong lead hand grip, which gives him a tendency to cock his wrists much earlier than coach Mike Walker would like. (Walker says in the slide sequence that they're working to make it a bit later in the backswing, in order to widen his swing.)

The slideshow also notes that Willett used to throw a javelin, and his trailing hand motion is similar to that.

Here's a YouTube video of Danny's swing, just so you can see it at both regular speed and in slow motion. The video shows both face-on and down-the-line views.

In a Golf Digest article that deals with his background as well as his win at the Masters, Danny says this about his swing:
“If you set the club correctly early in the swing, all you really have to do is turn,” says the former Walker Cup player of the swing that stood up best to the pressure of an endlessly exciting Masters Sunday. “It’s that simple. If I get the club in position with my shoulders ‘loaded,’ I can just elevate to the turn then come back down. At my best, that’s all I think about.
“I don’t think my swing is ever going to change in how it looks. But the feeling of it has changed. It feels wider. But when I see it on camera it still looks narrow to me. But I don’t have to think about it really. At first it was a conscious move, but not now.”
And among the variety of things I heard from assorted TV analysts:
  • I wrote in my book Ruthless Putting that you can learn most of the mental things you need at a good church, while in Think Like a Golfer I tried to explain how the language of sports psychology parallels theological terms and how "God talk" often sheds important light on the sports concepts. It turns out that Danny doesn't doesn't use a sports psychologist at all, depending instead on his father's advice... and his father is a retired pastor.
  • Danny is an old school putter who picks a target on his chosen line that's only a foot or so ahead of the ball. As he put it, "Every one-foot putt is a straight putt." It certainly simplifies his approach.
  • And Danny's go-to shot is a slight fade. Although he can move the ball either way, he tends to play his fade most of the time. Although it may have affected his ability to go low on the par-5s a bit during the rough weather (he was only even par for the week), on Sunday he went -2 on the par-5s. And overall, his 54-hole score was even par starting the final round, so his consistency served him well in the tough conditions.
Hopefully this cross-section of Willett trivia will get you better acquainted with Danny. He debuted in my RGWR at #3 this week with a major and two other ET wins over the last year, and he entered the OWGR Top10 at #9 Monday morning. Better get used to hearing his name!


  1. Actually he has seen the famous Sports Psychologist Dr Steve Peters (famous for his work with British Cycling) (in the Telegraph or Guardian)

    1. Thanks, 4P... but someone better tell Tim Rosaforte!