The best aspects of Ian Poulter's game aren't immediately apparent in photographs. The wild-eyed passion, brash competitiveness and intense self-belief that have led Poulter to a 12-3 Ryder Cup record, two World Golf Championships and 12 European Tour titles aren't visible on the following pages. Nor can you see Poulter's ferocious work ethic, kept hidden beneath his flashy, jet-set appearance. But when you get past the attire, the prolific tweeting and a penchant for collecting high-end cars, you find a swing that is highly athletic and beautiful to watch.
Poulter is a self-coached feel player who exudes hard-won confidence. "I wouldn't say I know the golf swing better than anyone else, but I know my swing better than anyone," he says. "I'm very confident in what I'm doing. I've never had a major swing change and have stayed consistent. I feel like I'm improving all the time."
Poulter's way of monitoring his swing is intense and rather unusual. He carries a video camera in his bag and references images constantly. Plus, he's a TrackMan devotee who leaves none of its measurements unchecked. "Launch angle, descent angle, smash factor—every number that's relevant, I look at it," he says. "When a measurement reveals something less than ideal, I trace it back. That's the fun of it."
After joining the European Tour in 2000, he enlisted help from David Leadbetter. But Poulter eventually embarked on his own. A gifted short-game player and putter, he's determined to find more consistency with the long clubs. "Because I'm a feel player, it's maybe easier for me to fix my swing than it is for more technical guys."
"Ian's swing is much better than it was when I met up with him," Leadbetter says. "It's cleaner, with fewer moving parts. With that, I wouldn't call his swing super-sound, technically. But his hand-eye coordination is world-class. When he's on, not many are better at 'finding' their way to impact.
"With the clothes, cars, tweeting and so on, Ian is like a modern-day Walter Hagen, without the majors—yet," Leadbetter says. "I say 'yet,' because he could very well pull it all together in one of those major weeks. He has that kind of ability."