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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sorting Out the Matsuyama Downswing

So you wonder if you should copy Hideki Matsuyama's pause at the top. (Let's be blunt here. It's not a pause, it's a full stop.) Instructor Michael Jacobs over at Golf Digest says you shouldn't copy the pause, but you should copy his hand action at the start of his downswing.

I'm going to suggest a modification to his instruction, one that will give you the same sort of action but with a much simpler motion. And I give you this suggestion based on my own experience.

You see, the motion Jacobs says Hideki makes is one that Davis Love was making when he first came out on tour... and Davis himself described it as "a slippery little move."

Hideki Matsuyama

I don't have a copy of the magazine, but memory seems to say it was a Golf Magazine cover story in the mid- to late-1980s called The Secret Move. (But don't quote me on that. That kind of memory is a "slippery little" thing in itself.) And it detailed the technique, because Davis was not only long but he could create extra yardage when he needed it.

This move -- where you start your downswing by moving your hands away from both your body and the target -- widens your downswing, and does so in a way that increases your wrist cock on the way down. (I've written extensively about downcocks in this blog, often in relation to Inbee Park and J.B. Holmes.) Jacobs says you want to move your hands straight out from your body first, then start down. And if that sounds a little tricky, understand that it's basically the same move a fly fisherman makes when he casts his rod.

The reason it's a tricky move is that the fisherman casts his (or her) rod using only one hand, and in the direction he (or she) is facing. Coordinating a two-handed move away from your body IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF WHICH YOU'RE TURNING is extremely complex.

I know. I tried for quite a while to get that move down and discovered that Davis was right -- it IS a slippery little move. I finally gave up. HOWEVER...

You can get a similar effect with a much simpler move, one I use myself.

Most of you are bending your trailing elbow as you start down. DON'T DO IT. Instead, feel like you're straightening that elbow as you start down.

Instead of moving your hands out THEN down, you'll be moving them out AND down simultaneously. Instead of moving parallel to the ground and then dropping, it will feel like your hands are sliding down an incline as they move down. Then, when your hands are somewhere between shoulder and waist high, let that trailing elbow bend and smack that ball! You'll find that you get the same sort of result, but it will be a lot easier to do.

And, on the way down, you'll feel the increased pressure against your wrists as they retain their cock later into the downswing.

Just as a side note: Davis eventually said he had to reign this move in a little to gain more accuracy. So don't get upset if you pick up some distance but lose some control. There's a balance you'll have to find if you want to use this technique. But keeping your trailing elbow straighter as you start your downswing won't be as hard to control as that "slippery little move."

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