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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Henrik and Annika: Separated at Birth?

You've seen pictures of two unrelated people who look very similar, haven't you? Well, Golf Digest did a very interesting article about how similar the swings of Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam are, and it's something you might want to take a look at.

Stenson and Sorenstam comparison at finish

The article is by instructor Jim McLean and has several side-by-side photos of the two Swedes, like the pair of finishes above, that are really quite remarkable in their similarities. Not just because of the large movements but because of the smaller, stylistic similarities -- like the way both players swivel their heads as they hit the ball, or the vertical club shaft finish shown above.

Something that you might find interesting -- that I learned from the article, in fact -- is that both players went through the Swedish Golf Federation at roughly the same time, and that the system the SGF taught was heavily influenced by the teachings of Jimmy Ballard. For many of you, Ballard's name will be familiar because he helped Rocco Mediate recreate his swing, which helped Rocco overcome some bad back problems, but Ballard has helped a number of big names over the years, like two-time US Open champ Curtis Strange.

It's interesting because Ballard's golf book, How to Perfect Your Golf Swing, was considered something of a radical approach when it first came out in the late 1970s. It really popularized the concepts of "releasing your right side" and "connection," although I suppose both of them had been around for some time. If you hang around long enough, you'll learn that there's rarely anything new in golf mechanics -- just fresh presentations of old or forgotten techniques.

Ballard's method is yet another example of an old truism -- that, eventually, every golf swing finds an audience when it's built on concepts that solve new problems that audience is struggling with. And in this case, it resulted in two eerily similar swings by two different golfers with different teachers... who just happen to be major champions who won in dominant fashion.

I wonder if this might spark renewed interest in Ballard's approach? If you're curious about the kind of things he teaches, here's a link to one of my posts about Ballard and Mediate from way back in 2010, and another one from 2011 on how Ballard teaches students to draw the ball. If you're interested in how the Swedes do it, they might be helpful to you.

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