I was never the biggest or strongest guy growing up on the southern cape of South Africa, so from the beginning I knew I was going to have to create clubhead speed with good fundamentals and efficient technique. So those are things I've always paid attention to. At 5-11, 160 pounds, I'm still on the smaller side for a tour player, but I can carry my driver almost 300 yards and hit my 7-iron 180, and that's using what I would call a comfortable swing. Rory McIlroy hits it even longer, and he's about the same size I am. Watch a sport like rugby or basketball, and the pitch or court is filled with guys who are huge and super fast, and they're doing things you can't even try to copy. But golf is different. All golfers can improve in the basics and find more "easy power"—the kind that comes from good rhythm, stability and the right sequence of motion, not by going after the ball as hard as you can with brute force. Here I'll show you some of the things I work on to keep my swing in balance and working at optimum speed.—with Matthew Rudy
Photo By: Photos by Dylan Coulter
Keep your arms soft and make a full hinge to the top.A lot of players mess around with their grips to get more speed, but they stop there. The grip is important, but it's more important to have your arms relaxed when you start, centered under your chest and positioned with the elbows pointing down. Then you can turn back with your right arm close to your body and make an easy, full wrist hinge to the top instead of fighting yourself. Try to make a big shoulder turn, keeping your feet quiet, and feel your right hip rotate behind you during the backswing.
Start your hips first and let them pull your upper body.Clubhead speed is measured at the ball, but most players have already lost it halfway down. They try to make the club go fast from the top, rather than giving everything time to unwind. Feel like you're throwing the club underhanded as far and high as you can down the range, not like you're chopping an ax into the ball. The hips should start first and pull the upper body, which gives the club a free swing through. When you re-route the club from the top, trying to force it down, you sacrifice swing speed.
Push against the ground keeping your feet flat.As you swing down to the ball, imagine a set of dominos getting tipped over. If you push one domino out of sequence, the whole row won't fall. A lot of players go hard at the target with the body or come through early with the shoulders, instead of turning the hips out of the way first. That's like pulling out a couple of dominos and breaking the chain. Push against the ground with your feet flat, continue rotating your hips forward, and feel like your chest doesn't get back to square until you reach impact.
TO THE FINISH
Let the club speed through without forcing it.The only swing thoughts I have during my best rounds are some form of let it go. I'm not focused on my body when I play, just where I want to hit the ball. Work on these moves in practice, one by one, so you can eventually play without thinking about them. Ironically, the more you try to consciously direct the club into specific positions, rather than letting it react to your body movements, the slower and less predictably it will swing. Remember, you're trying to find power without forceful effort.