Swing Sequence: Justin Leonard
Golf Instruction / Swing Sequence
Driver: Bridgestone prototype
Ball: Precept Tour Premium LS
Clubhead speed: 112 mph
1997 Driving distance: 259.2 yards
2002 Driving distance: 278.7 yards
When I started working with Butch Harmon two years ago, everyone assumed the "small guy" was changing his swing to get more distance.
It's not that I'm not concerned about distance. I've never been as long as the bigger hitters, at any level, and I've always needed to be better with my longer clubs. With my old swing, so much of it was related to timing -- releasing my hands at the right time. I had good weeks but was never as consistent as I wanted to be. I went to Butch looking to build a swing that would repeat under pressure -- one that used the big muscles in my legs and back instead of my arms and hands. I wanted to keep getting better.
In late 2000, I started changing almost everything about my swing. My setup was so different that I felt like I was going to hit a foot behind the ball the first few weeks I tried it. After about eight months of work, it finally felt right. I won the Texas Open in late 2001, then had a very good 2002 season. I struggled on Sunday at the PGA, but it wasn't because of my swing changes. That week was actually proof that the changes I made were ingrained.
And distance? Tiger isn't looking over his shoulder, but I'm almost 20 yards longer -- a byproduct of the changes. More important, I'm hitting it higher and with more control. I also understand my swing better and can adjust when things are going wrong.