When I started working with Butch Harmon two years ago, everyone assumed the "small guy" was changing his swing to get more distance.Not exactly.It's not that I'm not concerned about distance. I've never been as long as the bigger hitters, at any level, and I've always needed to be better with my longer clubs. With my old swing, so much of it was related to timing -- releasing my hands at the right time. I had good weeks but was never as consistent as I wanted to be. I went to Butch looking to build a swing that would repeat under pressure -- one that used the big muscles in my legs and back instead of my arms and hands. I wanted to keep getting better.In late 2000, I started changing almost everything about my swing. My setup was so different that I felt like I was going to hit a foot behind the ball the first few weeks I tried it. After about eight months of work, it finally felt right. I won the Texas Open in late 2001, then had a very good 2002 season. I struggled on Sunday at the PGA, but it wasn't because of my swing changes. That week was actually proof that the changes I made were ingrained.And distance? Tiger isn't looking over his shoulder, but I'm almost 20 yards longer -- a byproduct of the changes. More important, I'm hitting it higher and with more control. I also understand my swing better and can adjust when things are going wrong.
Farther and Better
By Butch HarmonJustin knew that if he wanted to be considered more than an overachiever, he needed to make some changes. Over the last two years, he's made dramatic ones.So much of Justin's swing had become about finding more distance that he had gotten away from what made him the player he is -- precision and the ability to work the ball. To hit it farther, he came at the ball from the inside and used a lot of hand action to square the clubface. His ball flight was much lower, and if his timing was off, he'd spray it all over. He didn't feel like he could rely on that swing under pressure. Justin won some big tournaments -- a British Open and a Players Championship -- but didn't feel like he was a regular threat.Justin's new setup is radically different. His weight is behind the ball at address, instead of over it or even to the left. He tended to hang on his left side as he took the club back. Now, his spine angle is much straighter and more upright. His backswing is tighter and more precise. His right arm used to be trapped behind his body. Now, he has more space back there to generate clubhead speed. He's hitting the ball much more squarely, he can work it with less effort and the higher ball flight is especially helpful on long par 3s.Justin's driving stats in 2002 were better than they've ever been. He also put himself in position to win again in a big tournament at the PGA Championship. He's got the dedication, fitness -- and the length -- to take the next step.I think he's ready to have the best year of his career this season.Butch Harmon, voted No. 1 by his peers in Golf Digest's ranking of America's 50 Greatest Teachers, oversees the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Rio Secco, in Henderson, Nev.
My arms and club are staying in front of my body.
My right arm isn't folded behind my body, and my hands are extended more, away from my head.
Getting my arms away from my body has given me more clubhead speed.
It's so much easier to deliver the clubface square to the ball now. I work it left or right more easily.
Nice, full extension here. My preferred shot is still a slight draw.
This part of my swing looks the same. You'll still be able to recognize me from one fairway over.