At 48, Fred Couples still makes it look effortless
By Jaime Diaz
It's hard to believe it has been 16 years since Fred Couples won his Masters, and the fact that his golf swing looks as smooth and powerful today as it did then only adds to the confusion. In a word, his action is relaxed, starting at address and remaining so all the way to his perfectly balanced finish.
Working with Butch Harmon, Couples has lessened the distinctive lift in his takeaway with a lower and wider sweep back that starts the club more along the target line, rather than outside. This allows him to accomplish a deeper, fuller turn.
"We had him setting up with the clubhead a foot behind the ball, getting a head start on the takeaway," says Harmon. "He even played some rounds like that."
Couples' improved takeaway also has reduced the amount his driver shaft goes across the line, pointing right of the target, at the top.
The result of these changes is that Couples now swings down on the correct plane, with the club more in front of him, not trapped behind his right side. When Couples was prone to dropping the club behind him, he had to release his hands aggressively through the hitting area to square the clubface. That pronounced inside-out action held the threat of a hook, which he counteracted by opening his stance and playing a fade. But he still missed too many fairways.
Now with a more on-plane swing, Couples clears his left hip -- a move he still executes as quickly as anyone in golf -- and he's free to fully release his body and swing the club down the line. He hits one fearless draw after another.
"We also watch his ball position, keeping it back, which squares his shoulders to the target," says Harmon. "From there, he can turn it over for more distance."
For the guy who has always made it look ridiculously easy, it seems easier than ever.