Dale Lynch got the call in the winter of 2009. It was his old mate and student, Aaron Baddeley, looking for some advice on an ailing golf game. Lynch had coached Baddeley since the age of 13 before Aaron began taking lessons from Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer. Baddeley was one of several tour pros who tried their restricted-weight-shift swing known as Stack & Tilt when it first became popular around 2007. "Aaron wanted my opinion on it," Lynch says. "I told him I wanted the setup mirroring impact and the body reacting to the shot he's trying to hit, rather than relying on the same mechanics every time."
Borne out of that conversation, the two began working together again, trying to rebuild the swing that helped Baddeley win back-to-back Australian Opens when he was a teenager.
Since those early days, Baddeley has won three PGA Tour events (two under the tutelage of Bennett and Plummer), but he's still trying for his first major championship.
Under stress," Lynch says, " there have been periods when the swing he's had on the range and the swing he's had on the first tee are completely different."
Neverthless, Baddeley's victory at the 2011 Northern Trust Open was a "huge step" in the transformation.
"Now I set up with more of an angle, I get more behind the ball, and I try to mirror my set-up position at impact," says Baddeley, who averaged 296.2 yards off the tee in 2011 compared with 291.9 yards in '07. His driving-accuracy percentage, however, has dropped from 60.42 percent to 55.67 percent.
"I'm more of a reactive player, hitting shapes as opposed to being limited by a one-shot swing," Baddeley says.
Bennett says the changes in the swing are noticeable. He's a lot more free-wheeling.
"We encourage our players to hit the same pattern of curve as much as possible," Bennett says. "I believe Aaron likes to play by curving the ball both ways as
he sees fit."
Baddeley says his goal is to get his body to release through impact, keeping his left arm soft to restrict hand action. The easiest transition from Stack & Tilt, he says, has been shifting more weight into his right leg during the backswing.
"The overall swing is still there from what I was doing as a kid."
-- Ron Kaspriske