Swing Sequence: Kevin Na

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Swing Sequence: Kevin Na

February 08, 2016

Photo By: Pro-File: Kevin Na | Age: 32 / 5-11 / 167 pounds Las Vegas | Driver: Titleist 915D3 9.5 degrees | Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Photo By: Photos by Dom Furore

Turning a bizarre swing glitch into motivation

Kevin Na might be most remembered as the tour pro who couldn't hit the ball. Witness several "whiffs" on tee shots a few years back, when he would get stuck on the downswing and pull up just before impact, purposely missing the ball. TV commentators called it the driver yips."I just wasn't confident in my swing mechanics," says the 32-year-old native of South Korea. Na knew something had to change, so he returned to teacher Don Brown of Wilmington, Calif., whom he started with at 15. Student and teacher went to work, and three years later, the results are impressive.

Photo By: Pro-File: Kevin Na | Age: 32 / 5-11 / 167 pounds Las Vegas | Driver: Titleist 915D3 9.5 degrees | Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Na credits a combination of new learning and overcoming old habits. For instance, he was taught as a kid to swing out to right field, an outdated concept they've worked to erase. "He has the opposite problem from the average golfer [who cuts across the ball]," Brown says. "I simply want him to keep his arms following his body through the shot."Brown says Na's work ethic has made the difference. He has eight second-place finishes to go with a victory at the Las Vegas event in 2011. After three top-3s in late 2015, Na is ready to win again.

SOLID CENTER

At address and starting back, Kevin Na is the epitome of balance. "Both side to side and front to back, he finds his center," says his teacher, Don Brown. "But I would like to see a little wider base." Brown says amateurs should take note: "Kevin's trunk and arms start together. That promotes consistency."

Photo By: Photos by Dom Furore

QUIET AT THE TOP

Notice you can see the butt end of the grip, indicating that Na chokes down for control. "There's a reason a baseball bat has a knob," Brown says. "It's so you don't grab it at the end." Brown notes that LPGA star Lydia Ko does the same. He says it keeps the club quiet at the top, no "bouncing" of the shaft or clubhead.

NO BALKING HERE

Making a free-flowing downswing is no longer a problem for Na. "Notice his head position has changed from the previous photo," Brown says. "He tilts back a little, which allows him to hit up on the ball." Brown says he'd like Na's right knee to stay back a little longer. "I want him to keep that stability with the lower body."

STAYING BEHIND IT

At impact, the clubface is dead square. "That's the most important thing in golf," Brown says. "Kevin does it by moving his arms and body in sync and having his left wrist flat at impact." For lower-body support, Brown says, "I like the back heel to stay close to the ground at least halfway through the downswing."

ALL TOGETHER NOW

According to Brown, most golfers would improve if they tried to swing the arms past the body. Na stays behind the ball and pushes up through impact, which boosts his swing speed. Brown says Na keeps his arms on his trunk better than he used to. "His arms follow his body through, and he's picture-perfect at the finish."

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