Golf Instruction: Swing Sequences

Syncing It Up

June 2013
Swing Sequence: Lee Westwood

BIO: 40 / 6 feet / 205 pounds
DRIVER: Ping G25, 11.5 degrees
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
DRIVING DISTANCE (2012 rank) 288.5 yards (74th)
DRIVING ACCURACY (2012 rank) 63.6 percent (52nd)

Lee Westwood has won more than three dozen professional tournaments worldwide, played in eight Ryder Cups for Europe, and has twice been No. 1 in the World Golf Ranking (for 22 weeks total).

He's widely regarded for his consistency, for which he credits good ball-striking: "Tee to green is the strength of my game."

Golf Digest Teaching Professional Dean Reinmuth agrees, adding that few golfers know their swings as well as Westwood does. In other words, he has developed a very individual style. "At certain points he looks standard," Reinmuth says, "but he makes a few really unusual moves. Your eyes go to those idiosyncrasies."

Most notably, Westwood's right leg straightens on the downswing, and his upper body dips to compensate, Reinmuth says. It's unusual, and it requires coordination. Still, Westwood's consistency is almost robotic.

As I see it, you get leverage from your legs," Westwood says. "They're the biggest power providers, but you have to get your upper body synced with them."

When Westwood's right leg straightens as he swings down, it shifts his hips toward the target. To counter that, his head moves away from the target. If it didn't, Reinmuth says, Westwood's body would be too far forward. "He'd be right on top of the ball, so his downswing would get very steep."

Westwood is working on sweeping the ball off the tee to launch it higher and with less spin, and Reinmuth says keeping the upper body back will help produce that. But his head also moves down, which leads to another unusual move: His left elbow bends through the hitting area. Reinmuth says that shows Westwood has a great instinct for getting the club back to impact. "He has to bend his arm; otherwise he'd hit the ground behind the ball."

Considering the timing needed to sync up these moves, you might wonder why Westwood doesn't simplify his swing.

"It's just the way I've always swung it," he says. "It's something that's ingrained, and it's very difficult to change."

Much like other great ball-strikers with unusual swings, such as Jim Furyk or Lee Trevino, Westwood relies heavily on rhythm. You'll rarely see him throttle up to try to get 10 more yards out of a shot. That's because everything in his swing is so precisely coordinated.

"It's like an orchestra leader," Reinmuth says. "He has to bring in the right instrument at the right time or the whole symphony falls apart."

Swing Sequence: Lee Westwood


Analysis by Dean Reinmuth, who runs the Dean Reinmuth Golf School in San Diego.
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