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What makes G-MAC tick? - Graeme McDowell Swing Sequence

From the moment he arrived at Pebble Beach, Graeme was totally relaxed with his swing and he loved the golf course. He was ripping it in practice – he played with Rory McIlroy and I didn't see him miss a shot. A lot of players go through the motions in practice, but Graeme is one of the best practice round players out there – he and his caddie Ken Combie really put in the effort, they dissect the challenge and plot a game-plan.

Winning majors is all to do with eliminating errors, and they stuck to their task. At the end of the week G-Mac proved to all of us – himself included – that he had the head and the heart to withstand the heat of a major. Let's take a look at the swing that won the US Open. By Pete Cowan

Graeme McDowell tuned up for the US Open at Pebble Beach with a performance in the Wales Open at Celtic Manor that he described as the ‘best of his life'. Rounds of 63 & 64 on the weekend, over a demanding 7,300-odd yard layout represented phenomenal golf – and it was a significant endorsement of all we have been working on for some time. As his coach, I am especially satisfied that the hard work we have been investing in the short game is finally paying dividends in the full swing – make no mistake, the better your understanding of impact, spin, compression and flight control around the green, the better the golfer you will become from tee to green.

Looking at this sequence the first point to make in the set up is that Graeme appears nicely relaxed over the ball and the arms are comfortably placed to create a good ‘sweep angle' (i.e. the angle between the clubshaft and the arms). I wouldn't suggest this is a perfect posture, as I'd like to see him holding his mid section a little more – that's an area in which he can get stronger. But it's pretty good.

Graeme likes to keep the clubhead outside his hands as he makes his first move – that's one of his key thoughts and one that prevents the swing getting too far inside. In the sequence generally you get a good sense of the way Graeme works around his centre, and (looking at frame 3) this gives him the feeling that he can make his arms work up on plane as the wrists hinge. This helps him ‘load' the left shoulder, which you can see is already in a strong rotated position as the left arm reaches parallel with the ground.

One thing I would like to see a little more of is flex in the right knee and thigh through the half to three-quarter back positions. This flex gives a player ‘control of the ground', as I like to term it. Lose the flex and you lose pressure (control). This is something I emphasise to all my players. The downward pressure you feel through your feet and lower body is what enables you to interact with the ground and use it as a power source – the key is that you keep the ground.

At the top we can identify a good right arm position which keeps the right shoulder nice and stable. And I like the 90-degree angle that is created between the arms. I like to see that as a constant. I also like it when the right shoulder sits ‘down' – i.e. it doesn't get behind the player. A lot of golfers lose control of the right shoulder at the top, which can lead to the club getting behind them. Graeme doesn't do that.

A lot of people pass comment on Graeme's ‘bowed' left wrist at the top, but this is a constant in his swing. Since he was a boy, Graeme has built his body action around this particular characteristic. It's natural and I see it as a positive rather than a negative.

If you want proof, just look at the delivery position: he has worked out how to get the clubhead square as he approaches impact, and that's the secret to playing good golf. Through the ball, his transfer of energy is fantastic. I don't think there is any doubt he has ‘got the ground' as he shifts into the downswing with a very powerful ‘squat' motion and then displays fantastic stretch rotation of the torso as he unwinds through the ball.

You can almost feel the force of the leverage as he rotates a firm left side and applies the pressure on the ball with the right side of his body. It is the quality of this body rotation that stabilises impact for consistency – there is no ‘flip' of the club. And this is a valuable lesson to take from this sequence: if you focus on turning the inside (i.e. your body – the hub of the wheel) its impossible for the outside (i.e. your arms, hand and the club – the spokes and rim) to overtake.

The faster and more efficiently you rotate the inside, the further and straighter you hit the ball.

In a balanced set-up, relaxed arms/hands create this desirable ‘sweep angle'

To keep the clubhead outside the hands is one of of G-Mac's key swing thoughts

Left shoulder ‘loads' while the wrists work the club up on plane

The bowed left wrist is a characteristic of G-Mac's technique; he has built his body action around it

And the quality of that body action explains the consistency of G-Mac's delivery position – on plane, on target

Rotation and leverage – the secret to generating speed and power

Free-wheeling to a finish, the shaft exits through the left shoulder – again, on plane

Totally balanced, the arms fold over to a finish – the consequence of what has gone on before

Hands passive as the shoulders and the arms create the early momentum

Graeme works the club ‘around his centre' – this is a swing controlled by rotation of the body

Here you appreciate the value of ‘keeping the ground' – i.e. feeling the pressure through the feet and using the ground to ‘squat' into a strong hitting position

Quality of the body rotation stabilises impact as right side applies the pressure

 

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine




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