Driver Swing Sequence: Ernie Els

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Driver Swing Sequence: Ernie Els

October 04, 2007

Looking at Ernie's swing sequence, it's easy to see why so many players at all levels marvel at how he's able to make it look so effortless. A true swinger of the club, Ernie combines balance, power and rhythm in a package that's clearly one of the best actions of all time.At address, Ernie looks comfortable and balanced, with his arms hanging in front of him and his weight on the balls of his feet. You can see the lack of tension in his arms, which shows that he's got perfect, light grip pressure. With that tension-free grip, Ernie feels as if he's engaging his midsection at the takeaway, and his backswing starts in a smooth, synchronized way.One of the keys to Ernie's power is his wrist action. Notice the complete wrist set at the midpoint of the backswing, in frame No. 3 below. Ernie's left arm is parallel to the ground, and he has set the club at more than 90 degrees in relation to the ground. With this sort of leverage—and the club swinging in balance—Ernie can simply turn to the top and then let his swing uncoil smoothly.Like some of the great swingers who came before him—Sam Snead is the best example—Ernie begins to move his lower body back toward the target just before the club gets to the top. This dynamic change of direction creates a tremendous amount of torque. Look at the stretch across his shirt in frame No. 5 below. Torque is what produces clubhead speed, and Ernie produces it with less effort than most tour players. He doesn't rush anything, either. He lets the torque uncoil from the top of the backswing—a great thing for the average player to copy. As you can see in Frame 5 below, Ernie's wrists are still hinged late into his downswing. He really does exemplify the cliché "swing easy and hit hard."

1. READY TO FIRE

Ernie's shoulders are in great position at address: He pulls them back so his chest feels "wide," and his right shoulder is slightly below his left.

2. COORDINATION

Compare the second and third frames to see the sequencing of Ernie's club, hands, arms and chest and how they coordinate. Notice how his chest hasn't turned until frame No. 3, after the club and his arms have moved significantly.

3. THE BACKSWING

One of the keys to Ernie's power is his wrist action. Notice the complete wrist set at the midpoint of the backswing, in frame No. 3 on the left. Ernie's left arm is parallel to the ground, and he has set the club at more than 90 degrees in relation to the ground. With this sort of leverage—and the club swinging in balance—Ernie can simply turn to the top and then let his swing uncoil smoothly.

4. AT THE TOP

Like some of the great swingers who came before him -- Sam Snead is the best example -- Ernie begins to move his lower body back toward the target just before the club gets to the top.

5. IN THE SLOT

Ernie uses his right side so well in the downswing. His right shoulder is moving down and slightly under his left. Many poor players swing the right shoulder out toward the target line, or "over the top."

6. CLEAN LINE

You've heard the phrase "hit against a firm left side" -- this is a perfect picture of it. Ernie's arms and chest are uncoiling around his left leg, whipping the club through with great speed.

7. RETAIN THE SPINE ANGLE THROUGHOUT

One of the challenges Ernie faced after surgery on his left knee was to avoid favoring it -- consciously or unconsciously. He sometimes struggled in his ball-striking with the long clubs because he would come up out of his posture before impact to try to alleviate pressure on the leg.

8. THE FINISH

In these photographs, you can see how Ernie retains the angle between his upper body and lower body from address through to the finish. He's all the way back to where he was before the injury.

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