If you've seen Tommy Gainey swing a golf club, you've probably noticed it looks somewhat different than the elegant action of most tour pros. But have you really looked at his swing? Golf Digest Teaching Professional Randy Smith has, and from his reaction, you might think he just saw a yeti.
"Wow. Where do you start?" Smith says. "Let me tell you, this man owns his golf swing. I'm thoroughly impressed with what he does. There are some positions he gets into that are absolutely phenomenal."
In an era when homemade swings seem to be making a comeback--Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler come to mind--the way Gainey hits the ball might be the most unorthodox of all. But there's real genius to it, Smith says. For example, Gainey attacks the ball like a home-run hitter "waiting on a three-and-two pitch with the bases loaded," Smith says. And Gainey also keeps the clubface square to the target through the impact zone "longer than any player I've ever seen." It's reminiscent of Lee Trevino's move through the ball, Smith says, and Trevino was considered one of the game's all-time best ball-strikers.
"I know my swing is ugly," Gainey says. "I know it's unorthodox. But I feel like I'm a good ball-striker, too. And besides, look at Bubba, Furyk--no one can question what they do with their swings. It's all about hitting fairways and greens and scoring. I just pick a spot and hit it at that spot."
That philosophy served Gainey well at the McGladrey Classic in October, where he shot 60 on Sunday to win for the first time on the PGA Tour. It was the lowest score on tour this year and is even more impressive when you consider it wasn't that long ago that Gainey was working for a water-heater company and bouncing around the mini-tours.
"Back in 2007, I got through three stages of PGA Tour qualifying, including six rounds in the final stage. If you can go through that and get your card, that tells you how you stack up against the best players in the world," Gainey says. "That's all the confidence I've ever needed."
It also helps to have a swing that produces a ball flight with very little movement left or right, Smith says. The secret to Gainey's accuracy is that he doesn't rotate his forearms much through the impact zone. Gainey says he prefers to draw the ball, but everything about his swing indicates he can also play a fade.
"And he's got power, too," Smith says. "Look at that knee bend in the downswing. It's difficult to get the clubshaft on the proper path from that position, but he's doing it. He's coming into the ball on line and can really smash it."